Walter was born on 27th December 1899 probably at 24 Wilmer Gardens, Hoxton Street, Hoxton, in the Shoreditch area of London to parents Alfred and Lucy, his birth registered in the following quarter, in 1900 and baptised on 4th February 1900 at St Andrews Parish Church, Hoxton.
He was aged one on the 1901 census, the youngest of four children. The family lived at 8 North Street, Mile End Old Town and Alfred supported his family by working as a belt maker, having previously worked as a commercial traveller. 10 years later, on the 1911 census, Walter was aged eleven and attended school. He had also, by then, two younger siblings, both girls. The family were recorded living at 8 Victoria Place/Cottages in Slough.
Walter worked as a carman before joining the Royal Marine Artillery on 25th July 1916 aged sixteen. If he would have been old enough he would probably have been conscripted, but his enlisting details gave his year of birth as 1897, making him two years older than he actually was. As he was 5’7” on enlistment he also seemed tall so was accepted as a Private.
He had basic training until 17th January 1917, rising to Gunner 2nd Class the following day. He remained at the depot until 25th May 1917 before embarking to his first and only ship the following day. He headed to Scapa Flow and joined HMS VANGUARD, spending just 44 days aboard before he was killed, aged just seventeen years old.
His pension was awarded to his father as were his Victory and British war medals. He is remembered on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial as well as locally in Slough.
#298 - 659/843
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915 Free BMD
London, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906 London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Reference Number: p91/and/004
1901 & 1911 England Census
ADM 159/90/15054 National Archives Royal Marines Registers of Service Index, 1842-1925
British Army and Navy Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1730-1960 National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Admiralty: Naval Casualties, Indexes, War Grave Rolls and Statistics Book, First World War.; Class: ADM 242; Piece: 010 (1914 - 1919)
Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll, 1914-1919 TNA Series: ADM 242/10; Scan Number: 0198
Photos courtesy of Kathy Blythe and Nicholas MacDonald