Charles Henry WALKER
Rank: Private
Number: 244756
Unit: 4/5th Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
Date of Death: 31st May 1917
Age: 33
Cemetery: Merville Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord, France

Charles was born in the Moston area of Manchester, the son of Augustus and Sarah. It's believed the family moved to the Stockport area when Charles was quite young. He was educated at Brentnall Street School and, later, at Stockport Technical School. In 1901, the family was living at 152 Grenville Street, Edgeley. Augustus and Sarah were both aged 54. Charles was 17 and his older brother, William, 19. Living with them was Augustus' father, 85 year old Shelah Walker.

When he had completed his course at then Technical School, Charles went to work for the Vulcan Boiler Insurance Co. Ltd, 4 King Street, Manchester. He would remain in the Company's employment until he joined the army. By this time, he had married Alice (known to everyone as Daisy)) and they lived at 58 Stockholm Road. The couple had no children. In his spare time, Charles was an active member of the local Conservative Party and had been honorary secretary of the Conservative Club.

Conscription of married men was introduced in May 1916 but six-digit army service numbers were not issued until after the beginning of 1917, suggesting that Charles could not have been on active service for very long when he died.

On 31 May 1917, the North Lancashires were in front line trenches near the village of Fleurbaix (approximately 5 kilometres south west of the French town of Armentieres). In the early hours of the morning, Charles was part of a group of sentries holding the small "Boutillerie Salient" which pushed out into No Man's Land. The Battalion War Diary describes what happened:-

"Enemy raided Boutillerie Salient with party of 2 officers and about 40 men. Sentry groups in apex of Salient saw 12 of the enemy in No Man's Land and threw bombs at them. NCO in charge sent back two men for assistance, while he and the remainder of the group continued to bomb the enemy until heavy casualties had reduced his party to himself (wounded in the head) and one man. The NCO then ordered a retirement and had to be assisted out of the bay by the remaining man. At this moment, the next sentry group arrived on the scene followed by the battle Patrol and accepted the surrender of one German officer and three Other ranks (2 wounded). Our casualties were 2 Died of Wounds and 2 wounded."

Charles was one of the two men recorded as having "died of wounds", as recounted by his Lieutenant in a letter to Daisy . "Your husband and some others saw a German raiding party coming up to our lines about 3am. They gallantly stood ground and threw bombs among the Germans and broke up the raid but, unfortunately, your husband was badly wounded in the leg by a bomb. He had very little pain but expired on his way to hospital. I know how great your grief must be. It may yet give you pride to know the gallant manner of his death. He was one of my best men, a splendid fellow and we all feel his death very much. Allow me to offer you our heartfelt sympathy in your great loss."

Charles is buried in the Cemetery used by the field hospital then based at Merville.

When the War Graves Commission collated its casualty information in the early 1920s, Daisy was living at 33 Hardcastle Road, Edgeley. Augustus and Sarah had also moved and were then living at 18 Adswood Lane East.

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