Walter was the son of John Rowbotham, 66 Grenville Street, Edgeley, Stockport. The 1901 Census records him, aged 14, working in a mill as a "cotton doffer".
Walter's original service number, 2401, indicates he was a fairly early volunteer for the army, joining at Stockport in the autumn of 1914. He will have gone overseas early in 1915. At the beginning of 1917, all Territorial soldiers were allocated new six-digit service numbers , as above
After a few days in a reserve camp, Walter and his comrades moved, by train, to the "Grange Station" near the Belgian town of Ypres (now Ieper). They then marched to a position, known to the Tommies as Stirling Castle, approximately 6 kilometres east of the town centre. Here they relieved the 16th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters, in the front line. The Battalion's War Diary records that "1 O.R. killed". Walter was that Other Rank and he was probably killed by shellfire. Originally, Walter was probably buried very close to where he was killed. After the War, many of these very small front-line burial areas were closed, as the land was returned to civilian use. The bodies were moved to larger cemeteries, like Hooge, where Walter is one of nearly 6000 burials.