Service number 191/A1
Born: October 20th 1909
Died: June 16th 1944
He was born at Woolwich to Colonel Frederick Hugh Langston Oldham, D.S.O., D.L., and his wife, Christabel Josephine Burd. Col Oldham was the eldest son of the Archdeacon of Ludlow. From 1919 until 1936 the Oldhams lived at Overley Hall, near Wellington. They moved to Leaton Grange, Wrockwardine.
Wilfrid was educated at Shrewsbury and Matriculated in 1928. He graduated in 1931 and joined the 4th Prince of Wales' Own Gurkha Rifles
On November 7th 1936, he left England on the Viceroy of India, en route for Bombay. His promotion to Captain was gazetted on January 29th 1939, and to Temporary Major on September 30th 1943.
He married Felicity Marion Gilbert. [Not traced and, possibly, in India.] She was a teacher and had spent time in the United States and Canada in the 1930’s.
In late 1943, the Japanese command in Burma decided to invade India. The Allied forces had a substantial base in Imphal on the Burmese border. In April 1944, the Japanese attacked the Imphal Plain from several directions.
In a battle on the southern flank on May 27th/28th desperate fighting took place at short range. The battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Wingfield, two company commanders and the adjutant were killed. Lieutenant Colonel Oldham, from 1/4th Gurkhas who were forming the firm base for the attack, took command. It became clear that further progress could not be made and the attack was called off. [Casualties in the 3/1st Gurkhas were 19 killed and 55 wounded.]
On the 29th the 1/4th Gurkhas attacked but there was no opposition and they captured three prisoners and a lot of abandoned equipment including two 75 mm mountain artillery guns and one 70 mm battalion gun thrown into a pond. The battle was over and the few survivors withdrew into the hills.
Wilfrid had been awarded the Military Cross in September 1943. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order on June 15th. It was gazetted on July 27th.
He was killed on June 16th.
He is commemorated on Face 61 on the Rangoon Memorial and by two windows and a tablet in St. Peter’s Church, Wrockwardine, Shropshire
Papers of Gen Sir Douglas David Gracey, KCB, KCIE, CBE, MC (1894-1964)
Typescript notes on operations against 'Plateau 5151-Pimpi Ridge [Burma]', by 1 Bn, 4 Prince of Wales's Own Gurkha Rifles, 63 Indian Infantry Bde, 17 Indian Light Div, 28 Nov 1943, written by Lt Col Wilfrid Henry Burd Oldham, 1 Bn, 4 Prince of Wales's Own Gurkha Rifles. 6pp, 2 maps
In 2011, Wilfred’s nephew was handed back binoculars lost by his grandfather in Italy in 1919, just after the First World War. They were engraved with the words “H L Oldham Royal Artillery” and belonged to Col Hugh Langston Oldham who lived.at Leaton Grange until 1965.
Dr Werner Sorg, an Austrian Surgeon, inherited the binoculars after his father found them in an Italian ditch shortly after the First World War but returned them to the family when he moved house following a newspaper appeal. Dr Sorg had a friend in England who helped him track down the Oldham family via the internet and writing to local papers.