Life Before The War
Walter was born in 1893 in Southampton, his parents were Henry Hallett and Mary Ann. Henry was born in Bridport in 1845 and Mary Ann was born in 1850 in Southampton, they married in 1870.
Henry’s father was baptised on 2nd January 1846 in Whitechurch
Walter was one of 15 siblings, there were 9 sons and 6 daughters.
His brothers were: William b.1868, Albert E b.1876, George F b.1879, Arthur L b.1881, Bertram b.1885, Ernest S b.1890, John b.1890 and Leonard b.1895.
And his sisters: Matilda b.1870, Louisa b.1873, Ada M b.1883, Ellen b.1883, Nelly b.1884 and Ethel M b.1886
In the census of 1871 Walter’s parents were registered as living at 35 Priory Road, St Denys, Southampton with children William and Matilda. Henry was working as a Shipwright.
In the same year, living next door at number 34 were Walter’s Grandparents Aaron Paul (b.1823 d.1884) working as a Labourer, and Mary Ann b.1826, together with Walter’s Uncle Albert b.1851, uncle William Charles b.1856 – both were Labourers, Aunt Mary Ann b.1852, Aunt Tabitha b.1857 and employed as a General Servant/Domestic, Aunt Ellen b.1859 and Uncle George b.1861.
The 1881 census shows Henry and Mary Ann at 4 Lower Cliff Road, St Mary’s, Southampton. Henry is still a Shipwright. Also registered there were William, Matilda, Louise, Albert, George and Arthur. William was living there with his wife Emily and their daughter Kate, William is a Greengrocer. William and Henry are both registered as Head of House.
NOTE: Lower Cliff Road no longer exists. It is likely to have run from The Avenue to Peterborough Road, both of which still exist. Looking at a current map of Southampton it would appear that Lower Cliff Road has been renamed Southcliff Road.
By the 1891 census Henry and Ann are living at 59 Priory Road, St Denys. Henry continues to work as a Shipwright, Matilda is a Dressmaker, Louisa a General Servant/Domestic and Albert is a Blacksmith’s apprentice (his place of birth is given as Cowes) and Walter.
At the 1901 census the family were still living at 59 Priory Road. Father Henry was now a Shipwright/Journeyman, mother Mary was at home along with Arthur, also a Journeyman, Bert was an Apprentice Shipwright. Ethel, Nellie, Walter, John and Leonard were at school.
The census of 1911 gives the information that the family have moved to 71 Priory Road. Walter’s father Henry was working at Vosper Thorneycrofts as a Shipwright. Also living in 6 rooms at this address was his mother Mary with Ethel and Nellie, they had no occupation, John was working for the council school’s as a Caretaker, Walter was a House Decorator and Leonard was working for Thorneycrofts as a Shipwright. It is recorded in this census that Walter’s parents had had 15 children but 2 had died.
Walter joined the Hampshire Regiment and served as a Private in the 1st battalion which was part of the 4th & 6th divisions. The 1st Hampshire Regiment was in the 4th Division and arrived in France in August 1914 to serve in France and Flanders until the Armistice.
Walter left for France with the 1st Battalion on 20th July 1915 and saw action in France and Flanders as he was serving with this battalion. As it is recorded that he died in France and Flanders he would have taken part in the Battle Battle of Albert, including the capture of Montauban, Mametz, Fricourt, Contalmaison and La Boisselle and also the Battle of Le Transloy including the capture of Eaucourt l’Abbaye, Le Sars and the attacks on Butte de Warlencourt.
The Battle of Transloy took place between 1st October and 5th November 1916 with the capture of Eaucourt L’Abbaye. Le Sars was taken and also Hazy, Dewdrop and Spectrum Trenches in the afternoon but troops were forced back. Then nightfall came and the Germans reoccupied Rainy Trench which had been left empty.
The battalion made a failed attempt to take Stag Trench but were able to get posts onto the Eaucourt l’Abbaye–Warlencourt Road, connecting with the 23rd Division which had attacked Flers Trench at dawn and establishing a post 750 yards (690 m) north-west of Le Sars. The weather was rapidly deteriorating and the battlefield, which had been hit by relentless artillery bombardment over the preceding three months, had turned into a quagmire. Further attacks were made on 12 October, 18 October and 23 October but there was little chance of a significant gain. The last push came on 5 November 1916 despite protests from some commanders who believed continued attacks to be futile. Walter was injured during this action and later died of his wounds.
Walter is remembered on the Grove Town Cemetery Meaulte reference II.C.35. The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. How fitting that Sir Edwin Lutyens designed the Cenotaph for Walter’s home city and upon which his name appears.
On his death Walter’s parents were still living at 71 Priory Road, St Denys, Southampton.
Walter was entitled to the Victory Medal, The British Medal and the 15 Star.
The 1st Battalion was moved from Aldershot to Colchester and transferred from the 2nd Division to the 4th Division. On August 17 1914 the Special Reserve was on coastal duties and the Territorials were also mobilised taking over their stations. This relieved the 4th Division from its temporary role as spearhead of the Home Defence Force duties. The 4th Division then followed the rest of the B.E.F. Overseas and on the 21st-22nd of August 1914 the 1st Battalion loaded onto ships at Southampton, the right wing on the Braemar Castle and the left wing together with the Rifle Brigade sailed on the Cestrian, all then sailed for Havre, France. When the 1st Battalion arrived the B.E.F. was already fighting with the Germans at Mons. The 1st Hampshire detrained at Le Cateau.
Researched by Lona Fryatt and Brenda White June 2014.
We would like to thank Sue Hickman – Walter’s great niece for providing us with and allowing us to use the photographs, we give her our appreciation.
NB. Please note copying of these photographs should not be done without the permission of the family.