Richard Wilbraham WALTON
Rank: Private
Number: 81922
Unit: 2nd Battalion (Eastern Ontario Regiment) Canadian Infantry
Date of Death: 13th April 1917
Age: 25
Cemetery: Vimy Memorial, Pas de Calais, France

Wilbraham Walton had married Elizabeth Ellen Moxon in the Sheffield area in the late autumn of 1884. When the Census was taken, in 1901, they were 39 and 37 respectively and were living at 66 Grenville Street, Stockport. Richard was their fourth child and had been born locally, in Woodley, on 3 September 1891. His older siblings were Herbert (15), Mildred (13) and Miriam (11) and those younger Oliver (7) and Edith (2). Wilbraham was a rolling stock inspector for one of the railway companies.

Richard trained to be a telegraph operator when he left school and, in spare time, he was a member of the 6th (Territorial) Batatlion of the Cheshire Regiment, which he had joined in 1909. In 1913, he emigrated to Canada making his home in Manitoba. He probably lived in Winnipeg, where he enlisted into the army on 14 December 1914. His service papers are available on-line at the Canadian National Archives and from these, the reader can see Richard was a tall man for the time - six feet. His chest size was 35 inches (with a two inch expansion). He had a dark complexion, dark brown hair and hazel eyes. He had given his religion as Church of England.

After training in Canada and the UK, Richard went on active service on 2 May 1915. On 9 April 1917, Canadian forces captured Vimy Ridge in northern France. The 2nd Battalion was in support of the leading units and does not appear to have been engaged in combat. The next day, it took over front line positions in the captured German trenches at Farbus Wood, putting patrols out into No Man's Land during the night.

On the 12th, the Battalion's War Diary records that the enemy bombarded their positions and, in the evening, they were moved back to the support line. The next day (the official date of Richard's death), the Diary notes "Nothing of importance occurred during the day, the men were given as much rest as possible and, late in the evening, orders were received to move back to Maison Blanch."

Although it is possible that Richard was killed during the move back into reserve, it seems more likely that he was killed in the artillery shelling of the 12th. If he took a direct hit, it may explain why he has no known grave - he may simply have disappeared and there was nothing to bury. His name is now commemorated on the nearby Memorial to the Missing which honours 11167 Canadians who died in France and have no known grave.

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