Reginald Walker (1878-1917)

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This page is part of a project by David Verguson to research the lives of those who appear on war memorials and rolls of honour in the Lindley area.

Biography

Son of the late Charles Henry and Mary Ann Walker, of Lower Park House, Lindley, Huddersfield.

Reginald and John Walker were the twin sons of Charles Henry Walker and his wife Mary Anne, formerly Mary Ann Dixon of Cowling near Skipton.

From the end of the 1860s, the Walker family lived at Lower Park House, 29 Occupation Road, which stands on the corner of Victoria Street and comprises some eighteen rooms.[1]

Charles Henry's father, Joseph Walker, built the mill on Plover Road in the centre of Lindley in the early nineteenth century and this soon became perhaps the biggest employer in the village with over 250 workers. Joseph also farmed 38 acres, employing two labourers, no doubt part of the estate at Low Hill House, off Plover Road, where the family lived in 1861. The ornamental pond and the gateposts are still there on Plover Road.

Reginald and John were twins born on 21 April 1878. In 1881 the Walkers had a nurse, a cook and a housemaid to look after them. Charles' great aunt, Agnes Dixon, also lived with the family. By the end of the decade the mill on Plover road had been sold to Smith and Calverley and so in 1891 Charles could describe himself as a "Retired Manufacturer". At that time the family consisted of Charles, his wife Mary, who was five years his junior, and four daughters and five sons, ranging in ages from twenty-two to eight years old. They employed two nurses and a cook.

From May 1894 to December 1895, the twins attended Giggleswick public school in North Yorkshire.

By 1901 Reginald, now aged 22, was working as an estate agent; his brother Jon was an engineer. Their older brother, Charles, was a "Traveller Woollen", maintaining the family connection to the textile industry. It was Charles who dealt with the census enumerator – their father, Charles Henry, was taking the waters at a spa hotel in Grange-over-Sands with his daughter Lizzie on the night of the census. Their mother, Mary Ann seems to have died in the 1890s.

Mary, their sister, had married Benjamin Prior Allen, a cotton yarn merchant, in 1896 and both, with their four-year-old daughter Alice, were living in Lower Park House. With some eighteen rooms they had plenty of space. However, they employed only two living-in servants.

In November 1904 Reginald sailed 2nd Class from Liverpool to New York on board the SS Baltic, giving his occupation as "salesman".

Ten years later only Charles and Elizabeth were still living at home and apart from their father, Charles Henry, the household also consisted of three domestic servants and a male secretary. Mary and her husband had moved to a house of their own on Mountjoy Road, not far from the town centre.

When the war broke out, Reginald crossed into Canada and enlisted in the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force in September 1914, just weeks after the war began. At his medical at the army base at Valcartier in Quebec Province, on 21 September, he was said to be 5' 10" tall, with a 35½" chest. So was considerably taller than most men who were enlisting back home in Lindley. The Canadian medical report also says he had blue eyes, fair hair and a fresh complexion; in addition, he had four vaccination marks and acne scars on his back and chest. Reginald's profession was given as "clerk".

He was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 2nd Brigade.

The Canadians arrived in England on 14 October 1914 and sailed for France the following February. Sources show that Reginald joined the Hampshire Regiment in Devizes, before the Canadians went to France. Probably soon after training he was transferred to the Worcestershire Regiment.

The 2/8th Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment arrived in France in May 1916 so Reginald may have served fifteen months at the front before he was killed in action in the Ypres area. He has no known grave but is remembered on the memorial to the missing in the Tyne Cot Cemetery, in the Oakes Baptist Church at the top of Wellington Street and on the family grave in the churchyard at Salendine Nook Baptist Church. He is also remembered on the memorial at Giggleswick School.

Reginald's brother John — who had served in the Imperial Yeomanry in South Africa in 1900 — also served in the Great War but fortunately survived and his name is on the Roll of Honour at Oakes alongside his brothers. Oscar Walker, a cousin, also died in the War, and is remembered in St. Stephen's. The twins' brother, Joseph, a solicitor, married Mary Winifred Sykes, the daughter of F.W. Sykes, card manufacturer of nearby Greenlee.

Charles Henry Walker, the boy's father, died on 15 November, 1916, months before Reginald's death in August the following year. His estate was valued at over £27,000 a not inconsiderable sum for that time.

Huddersfield's Roll of Honour: 1914-1922

The following extract is from Huddersfield's Roll of Honour: 1914-1922 (2014) by J. Margaret Stansfield:

WALKER, REGINALD. Private. No 260303. 2/8th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment. Born Lindley, Huddersfield, 21.4.1878. Son of the late Charles Henry and Mary Ann Walker, Lower Park House, Lindley. Educated Giggleswick Public School from May, 1894, to December, 1895. An estate agent. To New York, U.S.A. Enlisted in Canada and came over with the 1st Canadian contingent. Transferred to the Worcestershire Regiment. Killed in action, 27.8.1917, aged 38. Has no known grave. Commemorated TYNE COT MEMORIAL TO THE MISSING.
ROH:- Oakes Baptist Church; Giggleswick School; commemorated in Salendine Nook Baptist Chapel yard, D308.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Links

Notes and References

  1. This had previously been the home of Jabez Walker, woollen manufacturer, who died in August 1867, and was probably Charles' uncle.