Thomas Arnold Walker (1899-1918)

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An ongoing project to commemorate and research the lives of those who appear on war memorials and rolls of honour in the local area, who served in the military, or whose deaths were linked to conflict.
Thomas Arnold Walker

Biography

Thomas Arnold Walker was a grocer's assistant working for the local Wallace's chain that among other places operated a shop at the top of Lidget Street, no. 121.

William Greenwood Walker and Alice Coates were married in Leeds at St. Luke's, Beeston Hill on 2 March 1893. William was the son of a foundry worker, Alice was the daughter of a police constable. Their first child, christened John William was born the following year while the couple still lived in Leeds. He was baptised at the same church they had been wed and they gave their address as Horbury and William's profession as "engineer".

By the time the Walkers' next child — George Greenwood — was born they were living in Huddersfield and had probably moved for reasons of employment. Thomas Arnold was born on 2 March 1899 in Huddersfield but William and Alice took him back to the Beeston Hill church to be baptised, no doubt because one or more grandparents was still living in the area. The couple had another child that died in infancy,

In 1901 the family were living in the Moldgreen area. Ten years later William was working for the Sykes card works on Acre Street, Lindley, and they had moved to 36 King Street and Thomas had attended the school at the top end of Wellington Street. Another brother, Henry, was born in 1904.

In April 1911 Thomas was still only twelve years old and was at school. His older brothers were working: John was a brass finisher, George a woollen piecener.

Thomas probably left sometime after his thirteenth birthday in 1912. He may have started as an errand boy in one of the local shops. By the time he enlisted in the army in 1915 — before conscription — he was working at Wallace's on Lidget Street. By this time the family were living in three rooms at 8 Wellington Street.

Thomas must have walked everyday from his home in Oakes along Acre Street and Lidget Street to the shop and been a well known figure around the village, no doubt being involved with home deliveries.

Thomas's enlistment date may start from the moment he put his name forward under the Derby Scheme and he was probably not actually taken into the army until early in 1916, which may explain why he did not serve in the Duke of Wellington's Regiment. In fact he was taken in to the 277th Graduated Battalion, based in Clipstone in Nottinghamshire, for training and only afterwards posted to the Lincolnshire Regiment for active service. Given his age Thomas should not have been sent to the Front before March 1917.

Joseph Walker, Thomas's eldest brother, was married in September 1916 at the Thorncliffe Street Chapel in the centre of Lindley. He married a former neighbour from King Street, Eva Lockwood. Thomas may have been too young to have been a witness.[1]

The 2/5th Battalion, the Lincolnshire Regiment, only arrived in France and then on to Belgium, from service in Ireland, in February 1917 and it seems likely that Thomas arrived about that time. If so, he would have seen significant action in the Ypres area and eventually further south in Flanders.

The following spring saw the German offensive. Nineteen Lindley men died in the five weeks from 21 March to 25 April 1918. The 2/5th were moved south. Thomas is presumed to have died on 15 April when 79 men of his battalion were killed south of Bailleul, when a company 2/5th were surrounded and fighting at very close quarters ensued.

In a situation when the front line was fluctuating and the British in retreat, it is not surprising that Thomas has no known grave, but is remembered on the Ploegsteert ("Plugsteet") Memorial eight miles from Ypres and two miles north of Armenitieres. Locally Thomas is remembered in St. Stephen's church.

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, THOMAS ARNOLD. Private. No 44650. 5th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment. Born Moldgreen, Huddersfield, in 1899. Son of William G. and Alice Walker, 8 Wellington Street, Lindley. Educated Oakes Council School. Employed as a grocer's assistant at Messrs Wallace's Limited, Lindley. Single. Enlisted in 1915. Reported missing, presumed killed, 15.4.1918. Has no known grave. Commemorated PLOEGSTEERT MEMORIAL TO THE MISSING.
ROH:- St. Stephen's Church, Lindley.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

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Notes and References

  1. That Joseph's profession is given as "marine engineer" may explain why he does seem to have later served in the forces.