Walter was only 16 when he enlisted into the army in August or September 1914. He must have lied about his age or, at least, a blind eye was turned.
His father, Herbert William Harper, had been born in Flintshire around 1864. By the time of the 1901 Census, he had married and was living in Stockport, earning a living as a joiner. Walter is recorded in the Census, as is his older brother Percy. However, there is no mention of Ellen Harper, who is recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as being Walter's mother.
After joining up, Walter spent a year in training before going overseas with the Battalion in early September 1915. They spent a few weeks in France before moving to the Salonika theatre of war in Greece. Here they would spend the next three years fighting the Bulgarian Army.
In the summer of 1916, Herbert and Ellen received news that Percy had been killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme (1 July), whilst serving with the 19th Battalion, Manchester Regiment. (Note: Percy's name is recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as William Percival Harper). A few weeks later, they would learn that their younger son, Walter, has also died.
On 21 October, the Battalion was in trenches at Ardzan. The unit's War Diary records "Wind light. Weather dull. Heavy rain from 0200 hours until 1300 hours. One man wounded at Deux Ravines - serious in the head."
This wounded man, possibly shot by a sniper, was Walter. He died soon afterwards. Walter had acted as "batman" for his platoon lieutenant and the other officers. The lieutenant later wrote to Mr & Mrs Harper "He was one of the best of my platoon and a better hearted boy it wasn't possible to find. Always willing and always doing his share of the work. While he acted for me and the officers of the company, he was always willing and able. He did his duty like a man, although young, and was liked by all his comrades."