Walter was the son of George and Margaret Smith of 90 Buxton Road, Stockport. The earliest mention of him that has been found in records is the 1901 Census when he was aged 20 and living, as a boarder, in Stretford. He was working as a railway carriage cleaner, but must have had a sense of adventure as he later emigrated to Canada where he found work as a miner in British Columbia.
On 25 August 1915, he enlisted into the army at Prince Rupert, BC. His attestation papers can be viewed on-line at the Canadian National Archives and these confirm his date of birth as 14 May 1880. He must have been of quite striking appearance - fairly tall for those days, at nearly 5 feet 10 inches, with auburn hair, blue eyes and a fair complexion. The examining doctor recorded that he had a scar on the left side of his back. Walter had noted his religion as Church of England.
The 47th Battalion had been raised locally, at New Westminster, in early July, as one of the later units formed in British Columbia. Due to lack of recruits, it was "topped up" with recruits from Ontario and redesignated as a unit from the province. It arrived on the Western Front in October 1916.
On 1 March 1917, Walter and his mates started another tour of duty in the front line trenches near the village of Villers-au-Bois, north west of the French town of Arras. It was a rare time of relative quiet in this sector. On the 3rd, they were relieved and went back a short way to man the support trenches and two communication trenches (called Gabriel and Holloway).
The next day, the Battalion's War Diary records that it continued to be quiet, with wind coming from the direction of east-south-east. As always, there will have been intermittent shelling with the risk of casualties and this day was no exception. Three men were killed, including Walter. The other men were George Griffiths and William Mitchell, the latter originating from Aberdeen.