RFA West Lancs Bdes
680410 DVR. W. BATTLE. R.F.A.
Walter Battle was born in 1896 in Preston. His father was Thomas Battle (b. 1860 in Preston), an oiler in a cotton mill. His mother was Margaret Ann Booth (b. 1859 in Lancaster), a darner in a cotton mill. Thomas and Margaret Ann were married at Preston St Peter’s on Christmas Day 1880; Walter was their only child, born 16 years later. In 1911, they were living at 25 Brookfield Street, Preston. Walter was also working in a cotton mill, as a weaver.
He must have done some time in the Territorials, so when he joined the Artillery he was initially given service number 1561, which was later changed to 680410. He was posted to “A” Battery of 276 Brigade and landed in France with 55th Division on 30 September 1915 (he was 19 years old).
55th (West Lancashire) Division fought at Guillemont and Ginchy (on the Somme) in September 1916, suffering severe losses especially at Guillemont. They also fought at Flers-Courcelette and Morval later that month, and then in October 1916 they were moved to the Ypres Salient, at the time a relatively quieter part of the front. Although there were no major engagements at this time, there was constant harassment, shelling and raids.
In January 1917, 55th Division were first in reserve at Houtkerque, on the French/Belgian border, and then, on 25 January, they were moved up to support the defence of Ypres. In March 1917, 276 Brigade were engaged in the bombardment of St. Julien (Sint Juliaan) in retaliation for German shelling of St Jean. 5 men from 276 Brigade died during the period 3-9 March. Walter was not killed in action or as a result of wounds, his military record states he died of tonsillitis at General Hospital No 2 in Le Havre on 7 March 1917. He had just turned 21.
Service No: 680410
Date of Death: 07/03/1917
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, “A” Bty, 276 Bde.
Grave Reference: Div. 3. I. 12.
Cemetery: STE. MARIE CEMETERY, LE HAVRE
Additional Information: Son of Thomas and Margaret Battle, of 25 Brookfield Street, Preston, Lancs.