Walter WEST
Rank: sergeant
Number: 1405
Unit: A Company, 1/6th Battalion CHESHIRE Regiment
Date of Death: 26 January 1915
Age: 19
Cemetery: Wulverghem-Lindenhoek Road Military Cemetery, Kemmel, Belgium

Walter had been born in the parish of St George's C of E Church, Stockport. Later, he lived at the family home, 55 Adswood Lane West, with his father, James. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission does not list his mother, suggesting she had died by the early 1920s when the Commission was collating its casualty information. Walter had at least two brothers, Tom and Robert, both of whom later emigrated to Canada.

Walter's service number indicates he was pre-war member of the Territorial Army and would have been mobilised when war was declared in August 1914. An account of the Battalion's early weeks of service is here.

On Christmas Day, 1914, Walter and his comrades were in front line trenches near Wulverghem (south of the Belgian town of Ypres - now Ieper) and took part in the famous Truce that lasted all day. On 28th December, they came out of the front line for two weeks rest, returning in mid-January.

On the 26th, two companies were back in the front line at Wulverghem. Sergeant Boardman, in his diary published in the Battalion History, records Walter's death "He was looking through a pair of field glasses when he was killed by a bullet from a sniper". His Company Commander, Captain F A Leah, wrote to Walter's family expressing the sympathy of his comrades and noting that he was the first non-commissioned officer to be killed.

In the booklet "Stockport Lads Together", David Kelsall records that Walter was buried in a "lovely little garden" and that Sergeant Major Naden placed a wooden cross over the grave. He promised to get the company carpenter to engrave his name. The garden will have been very close to the Cheshires' front line positions and, after the war, many of these small burial grounds were closed as the land was returned to civilian use. Walter's body was dis-interred and reburied at a "concentration" Cemetery which continues to be properly maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

In 1916, Walter's brother Tom was living in Toronto and Robert was in Niagara Falls. It is not known if they served with either the British or Canadian forces, but both appear to have survived the war.

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