The 1901 Census records that Walter had been born in Handforth and, at the time of the Census, he was living in Stockport, aged 9. His service number indicates he enlisted into the army, at Stockport in September 1914, although not as a member of the 6th Territorial Battalion. The number is consistent with him joining one of the newly established “Service” Battalions – formed for the duration of the War. At some later point, he was probably wounded or otherwise away from his unit through illness for quite a while. When he had recovered, the 6th Battalion must have been in greater need of men and he was transferred to them. Prior to 1 January 1917, soldiers transferring Battalions in this way were allocated new service numbers, so it must be that Walter had been with the 6th for very long when he died.
Regimental records indicate Walter died of wounds he had received and he is certainly buried next to a military hospital facility (a Casualty Clearing Station). It cannot be known exactly when he was wounded, but soldiers did not spend long at a CCS. They were either stablised and passed along the casualty chain to a base hospital or they died!
On 1 November 1917, the Cheshires were in reserve to the east of the Belgian town of Ypres (now Ieper) at positions known as Canada Street and Tower Hamlets. The Battalions’s War Diary notes that they were “generally engaged in supplying carrying parties for front line Battalions and repairing and strengthening reserve positions. Considerable artillery & aeroplane activity. 9 O.R. (other ranks) to hospital wounded”.
The next day was much the same “all available ranks engaged in supplying carrying parties for front line activity and generally repairing and reconstructing present billets. Considerable hostile artillery activity. Weather very inclement. 3 O.R. wounded, 2 gassed.”
Walter would have received emergency treatment from the Battalion’s medical officer and would then have been evacuated the several kilometres to the rear to the Casualty Clearing Station at Poperinge, where military surgeons would have done all they could to save his life.