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Photo of Irene May Wilkins

Irene May Wilkins

Birthplace London Chelsea Place of Death Bournemouth


Full name of worker at H.M. Factory Gretna (and any other names they are known by) : Irene May Wilkins
Gender: Female
Date and place of birth: 1891, Chelsea, London
Date and Place of Death: 22nd December 1921, Bournemouth, brutally murdered
Nationality: British
Childhood: 3rd of 6 children, affluent upbringing
Parents: Harry and Grace Marion nee Shields [Shiel]
Parents occupations: Secretary of London Water Company
Schools / universities attended and years of attendance:  None known
Occupation: Cook
Place of residence at Gretna: Not known
Marital status: Unmarried
Children: None known
Travels: None known
Awards/recognitions: None known
Positions held: None known
Trivia / any other information: Yes

Books published (Title, year of publication, publisher):
Books written about the individual or mentioning the individual (Title, year of publication, publisher):


Blogs about the individual:
Websites about the individual:

The Alibi That Never Was

Further links, notes, and comments:

Mini Biography

Irena May Wilkins 1891-1921

Irene May Wilkins was born in 1891 at 89, Edith Crescent, Chelsea, London  to Harry and Grace Marion nee Shield [Shiel]. Irene was the 3rd of 6 children.

1901- living at 24, Christchurch Road, Streatham, London

1911- same address, 13 rooms. Father the retired secretary of the London Water Company. There are 6 children and several staff.

WW1 – served as a cook at H.M.Factory Gretna. Described in article below

Irene May Wilkins at Gretna

1921- address was 21, Thirlmere Road, London West.

“On December 22, 1921 Irene Wilkins advertised for a position as a school cook. She received a telegram the same day asking to meet in Bournemouth to interview for a position. She immediately caught the afternoon train to keep the appointment. The next day her body was found in a field just outside Bournemouth. She had been beaten to death with a hammer. Her murderer turned out to be  a chauffeur who was caught several months later, based in part, on tyre tracks left at the scene. He had also telegraphed an additional three women the same day. His handwriting was compared to the telegrams and some betting slips found in his pockets the day was picked up for questioning. He was tried at Winchester and  found guilty of Irene’s death in July 1922. The night before he was hanged (19 August 1922) at Winchester Prison he confessed to the crime.”

Irene May Wilkin’s murderer

“The young woman, Irene May Wilkins, who was so brutally murdered in lonely field near Bournemouth a week ago, served during the war as cook at the Gretna Ammunitions Factory. The murder is one the most mysterious in the annals of crime. The victim was decoyed from her home in London ‘a bogus telegram sent by an evidently illiterate person. In the original draft message certain words were wrongly spelled. The spelling was corrected in transmission. If the message had been delivered verbatim et litteratim it is more than probable that Miss Wilkins, an educated woman, would have had her suspicions aroused and this terrible tragedy would not have occurred.

Southern Reporter – Thursday 29 December 1921”

This murder was reported nationwide in varying degrees of detail.

She was murdered by Thomas Henry Allaway.

Irene was buried at Streatham cemetery on 31st December 1921.

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