Walter was reported to have been one of seven brothers who served during the War. It has not been possible to establish with certainty if Abraham, Edwin, James, John and Joseph did serve but, only a few weeks after news of Walter’s death reached Stockport, news would come that his younger brother, Herbert, had also been killed in action.
John and Margaret Scowcroft had started their married life in Bolton and their first three children – Joseph, Ann and John – had been born there. The family moved to Stockport in about 1888 and a further five children – James, Abraham, Walter, Herbert and Edwin - were born in the town. When the Census was taken in 1901, the family was living at 179 Portwood Street. John’s occupation was as a manager in a cotton mill. This may have been the local Bee Hive Mills where Herbert and Walter are known to have been working before they enlisted into the army. At the time of the War, the family was living at 53 Holly Street.
The 245th Brigade was a pre-War Territorial unit and Walter’s original service number, 2138, is low enough to suggest that he might have been a pre-War member. If not, then probably he joined up very soon after War was declared. Assuming he was a very early recruit, then he will have been on active service from the late spring of 1915, when the Brigade went overseas. He was, however, in Stockport, perhaps on leave, in 1916 when he married his fiancée, Leah Lloyd, at St Mark’s Church, Bredbury. It’s not known how long they had together or where they lived – Leah was later known to have lived at 111 Redhouse lane, Bredbury. After he died, the local press reported that they had a four month old son. However, the family history website, FreeBMD, confirms that their child was a daughter who they had called Olive.
On 15 August 1917, Walter and his comrades were at the northern end of the whole Western Front – near the Belgian town of Nieupoort. The Brigade’s War Diary records that the “Battery positions again shelled. “C” Battery have two guns put out of action. Five casualties. 2nd Lieutenant J Thomas and two telephonists badly gassed with new gas shells in OP (observation post) in Nieuport.” Although the casualties are not named, Walter must have been one of the seven mentioned. His Battery is recorded by the War Graves Commission as being “D” and, whilst it is possible he was temporarily working with “C” Battery, it is more likely he was one of the two telephonists and had succumbed to the effects of the gas.