Remembered Today:

Julianw

Pte William Walker 6th Bn AIF. A mystery and help required

4 posts in this topic

I am posting this note on behalf of my relative, Private William Walker, in the hope that members of the forum my suggest the best way that I should proceed in getting his headstone replaced.

 

Briefly William Walker was twice wounded in action and while recovering from wounds was found drowned floating in Bristol Harbour. The coroners report attached does not give any reason for this so this still remains a mystery as he must have been well enough to leave hospital. Was this an undiagnosed example of PTSD?

 

The initial questions are: is there a War Diary for the 6th Bn AIF and what actions was William Walker fighting in to be wounded on the 4th October 1917 and 23rd August 1918. These are gunshot woulds so this must be some sort of front line contact.

 

William Walker was buried in Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bristol and on visiting the grave i was upset to find it in the condition you will see in the photograph. It is clearly his headstone as the plot is identified in the letter to his mother - attached. The cemetery is owned by a trust who tell me that the soldiers plot in the Cemetery is managed by the CWGC who maintain the plot and headstones. When I brought to their attention the condition of the headstone they said that because he is mentioned on the wall behind the plot they do not have any responsibility to maintain the headstones on the plot as apparently they do not double commemorate and that was the end of the matter. They were most unsympathetic and would even give me a name of someone to speak to. I am not sure such a situation would be tolerated in France.

 

I don't think this is right and  I believe that William Walker is entitled to the same headstone marking as his comrades in arms, all be it should be horizontal rather than vertical in this case.

 

I appreciate that this may be a resourcing issue for CWGC and I am sure the English and Australian branches of the family , and perhaps the general public, would contribute to the cost of repair.

 

My objective is the have the headstone repaired and the normal soldiers details, such as regiment, etc ,r recorded by the 100th anniversary of his death on 11 December 1918

 

I would welcome the advice of forum members as how I should go about achieving this objective.

 

Julian Walker

 

 

 

William Walker.1.1jpg.jpg

Rear, L-R Elizabeth Walker, John Walker, Hugh Walker, William Walker, Albemarle Henry Walker Front Edward Walker, Martha Jennings, George Walker Sen. George Walker Jun..jpg

William Walker Headstone.JPG

Arnos Vale Cemetry.JPG

William Walker Service record.1 JPG.JPG

William Walker letter regarding burial process (2).JPG

William Walker statement from Coroners inquest. (2).JPG

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To me on looking at the photos and the CWGC website, the grave and those around it are clearly War Graves.  

 

The lettering on the headstone, look like the lettering on a headstone you would find in France. 

 

Its the duty of the CWGC to maintain the headstone and clearly this one needs repairing and some of the others around it.  

 

Catch 22 the cemetery is owned by a trust and the plot is maintained by the CWGC.  

 

The trust will say its the CWGC problem and the CWGC will say it's the Trust problem.  

 

All I can say is that contact the Australian embassy in London,  The Australian Defence Force and bring this matter to their attention, I don't know where you are I.e. Living it would be ideal to speak to your local MP and if any member of the forum is living in Bristol, bring it up with the local MP.

 

 

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It must be stated that these are not CWGC (IWGC) headstones, these headstones were laid over the graves by the Bristol branch of the British Red Cross Society to replace the wooden crosses that had been used during wartime and I suspect that since the graves had headstones the CWGC (IWGC) deemed it better not to replace these but to commemorate those buried in the cemetery on the Memorial Screen. There are some useful and relevant links relating to the cemetery here and here

Diaries for the AIF can be found here

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Interesting reading on the Trust and the Bristol British Red Cross Society.  

 

 

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