RFA West Lancs Bdes
681990 GNR. E. C. WALTER. R.F.A.
Edmund Cole Walter (sometimes Walters) was born in the final quarter of 1892 in Ditton, near Maidstone in Kent. His father was Alfred Walter (b. 1872 in Maidstone), a scavenger (i.e. refuse collector) for the local council. His mother was Florence Ellen Vinten (b. 1875 in Malling, Kent). Alfred and Florence were married in 1892 and Edmund was born later that year. He was their only child as Florence died (still only 19) in 1894. After Florence died, Edmund was taken in by her parents, Joshua and Julia Vinten, and the extended family lived at 1 Jubilee Terrace, Ditton. Edmund was a labourer in a cement works.
In early 1913, Edmund married Emily Phyall (b. 1890 in Wrotham, Kent. They had two children: Edmund Albert (b. 1913) and John Charles (b. 1915).
It’s not clear how Edmund came to be in the Royal Field Artillery. He may have been conscripted in 1916. His service number, 681990, is relatively late in the sequence and he may never have served with the West Lancashire Brigades. I do know that in 1915 and 1916, during training, the West Lancs Brigades spent some long periods in billets in Kent, so that may be a connection. Or not… Edmund was eventually posted to 81st Battery in 5th Brigade. It’s difficult to know what action Edmund was engaged in. From The Long Long Trail we learn that in July 1917 5th Brigade became an Army Brigade and served with the following: Second Army in October 1917, Third Army in December 1917, First Army in February 1918, Fifth Army in July 1918 and finally returned to Fourth Army in October 1918.
The Allies launched an offensive on 21 August 1918 which would later become known as the 100 Days Offensive, aimed at retaking the land lost in the German Spring Offensive and pushing the Germans back out of France and Belgium. The first phase of that offensive took place between Arras and Albert. The Allies retook Albert on 22 August and Bapaume a week later. Edmund was killed during this fighting. It is indicative of the chaotic nature of the fighting during this phase of the War that the military records say that Edmund’s death was “on or shortly after” 24 August and that he was “killed in action or died of wounds”. His body was recovered and taken for burial at Bailleulval, about 10 miles south west of Arras. He was 25 years old.
Service No: 681990
Date of Death: 24/08/1918
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, 81st Bty, 5th Bde.
Cemetery/memorial reference: III. E. 6.
Cemetery/Memorial: BAC-DU-SUD BRITISH CEMETERY, BAILLEULVAL