Service number 76537
Born: January 12th 1914
Died: November 11th 1942
Mark was born in London, the eldest of the four sons of Hubert Carlisle Pilkington and his wife, Ruth Honor Leslie. His father was a member of the Pilkington glass family and her father was a ship owner. Both fathers were well known amateur cricketers.
He was educated at Eton and Matriculated in 1932. He was up at Christ Church for two years in which time he was Whipper-In for the University Drag Hounds.
He married Susan Violet Henderson on February 25th 1936. A son was born in 1938.
Mark joined the Life Guards Special Reserve in 1938. In February 1940, they went to the Middle East. He was, posthumously, awarded the Military Cross.
“For conspicuous gallantry in action over a prolonged period in April 1941 to 27 November 1941.
This officer entered Ethiopia in March 1941, in command of an operations centre composed of Ethiopians from the Sudan. He was directed against the Debra Tabor area in April. Together with other Ethiopian forces under British officers he led many harassing attacks against that place until its surrender in June 1941.
Taking over a complete unit known as the Vollo Banda, consisting of 1,500 Italian-trained irregulars who volunteered to serve against the Italians after the surrender of Debra Tabor, Captain Pilkington continued to set an example of a high order in his raids and harassing attacks on the Italian lines of communication between Kulkaber and Gondar.
With the arrival of regular troops in the Gondar area, Captain Pilkington and his Vollo Banda took part in the attacks on the Kulkaber position on the 13th and 21st November, giving particular valuable assistance in the latter action in spite of heavy casualties to his troops. On 27th November he led his troops in the final attack on Gondar with great dash and gallantry, taking all objectives assigned to him.”
He served in Palestine, Abyssinia, Transjordan and with the Long Range Desert Group in North Africa where he was killed on Wednesday November 18th 1942 when spotted by Italian aircraft & machine gunned. At the time he was returning machine gun fire.
He is buried in the Tripoli War Cemetery Plot 10. H. 3.
He is commemorated on the War Memorial at Offley, near Hitchin, Hertfordshire where his parents lived. His youngest brother Charles Leslie is buried in the churchyard, there. He was killed in a flying accident on March 11th 1942, aged 20. Their father died soon after.
Mark’s widow remarried in 1943.
Mark Pilkington: Some Letters 1939-1942. 1st Ed., xvii+218pp., portrait frontis., 56 photos. (mostly East African campaign), portrait at end from painting by Francis Hodge, maps. No imprint/date (printed by Clowes & Sons, evidently for private circulation, c.1947). Contains excellent, detailed letters from the Abyssinian campaign, with many unusual, photos., followed by extracts from letters of condolence from other officers &c. Orig. blue cloth, gilt