Walter was born in Glossop but had lived in New Mills for a number of years. He was a Roman Catholic, worshipping at St Mary's Church, in the village. When he married, in 1911, it is possible that Annie Meakin was not of the same faith as their wedding was a civil ceremony registered at Stockport. They would have three children together. After his death, Annie moved to Marple to be near her family and, there in 1919, she met and married John Longden at All Saints Anglican Church.
He worked at the nearby Birch Vale calico printing works (and is commemorated amongst the Company's employees listed in the entry of the Calico Printers Association in the Manchester City Battalions Book of Honour). In January 1915, Walter travelled to Buxton and enlisted into the local Regiment - the Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Regiment (known as the Sherwood Foresters). His medal entitlement records, at the National Archives, show that after training he went overseas on active service on 17 August. Two months later he would be dead.
On the evening of 11 October, Walter and his mates moved from billets at the Belgian village of Brielen into the support trenches on the banks of the canal which runs north from the town of Ieper (then Ypres). They arrived about 7.15pm and took over from a battalion of the West Yorkshires and spent a quiet night. The next morning, the men started work improving the dugouts. 150 men from "A" Company were sent off to undertake work parties carrying stores from the rear areas. Work on improving the trenches was stopped owing to enemy shelling, but not before two men had been killed and another 8 wounded.
Walter was one of those wounded. He will have received some treatment from the Battalion's own medical officer but this will have been little more than first aid. Further treatment to stabilise his condition will have been undertaken at the Main Dressing Station a few hundred yards behind the trenches. Walter was then evacuated to a field hospital at Lijssenthoek where military surgeons will have done all they could for him, but without any success. Men rarely spent much time at a field hospital - either their condition was further stabilised allowing them to be moved to the fuller hospital facilities on the Channel coast - or they quickly died. The fact that Walter spent 6 days at Lijssenthoek probably indicates that the doctors knew there was no chance of his survival. He will have been made as comfortable as possible and given large doses of morphine but there will have be no further treatment.
In the early 1920s, Annie Longden was living with her new husband at 15 Elmley Street, Marple. No doubt it was she who arranged for his name to be inscribed on the Marple War Memorial (abd the one at All Saints Church). Other friends or family must have arranged for his name to be included on the New Mills War Memorial.
Further information, including a photograph of Walter, can be found in the book "Remembered" by P Clarke, A Cook and J Bintliff.