Sunday, 19 September 2021

Memorial service for WWI soldier on centenary of his death

MORE than 20 people attended a memorial service in Henley for a teenage soldier on the centenary of his death.

MORE than 20 people attended a memorial service in Henley for a teenage soldier on the centenary of his death.

The service took place at Holy Trinity Church on Friday, exactly 100 years since Capt Arthur Walker was killed in action. It was conducted by the vicar Rev Duncan Carter.

Capt Walker was the son of John Cecil Walker, a bank manager, and his wife Mary Ann, who lived in Rotherfield Road, Henley.

He was educated at Wellingborough School, Northamptonshire, and was a member of the school’s Officer Training Corps as well as the cricket team.

At the outbreak of war he was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the Yorkshire Regiment. In June 1915 he was selected for service at Gallipoli and arrived there with the 11th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment on July 16, 1915, having already attained the rank of captain. He was attached to the 6th Battalion Manchester Regiment.



Capt Walker was killed on August 7, 1915, aged 19, having been in Gallipoli for just three weeks. He was buried in Redoubt Cemetery in Helles, Turkey.

Following his death, Capt Walker’s parents donated the land on which the former Henley War Memorial Hospital was built and a memorial plaque was placed in the grounds.

Mayor Lorraine Hillier attended the service, along with fellow town councillor Will Hamilton and the town’s Poppy Appeal organiser Shirley Lees. Rev Carter led prayers and hymns and talked about Capt Walker’s life. He said the soldier had been due to study at Oxford University before the war and had hoped to become a member of the clergy.

Rev Carter said: “As we remember him we remember the many others who lost their lives in that great conflict and many more since. We also remember those who remained anxious at home.”

The Last Post was played and Brian Hughes, standard bearer for the Henley and Peppard branch of the Royal British Legion, led a minute’s silence before actor Martyn Read, of Mount View, Henley, read In Flanders Field by John McCrae.

A wreath was then laid on a chest topped with a hat from the First World War by John Green, chairman of the Henley and Peppard branch of the Royal British Legion, and Mike Willoughby, of the Lest We Forget project, who traces details of local victims of the War whose names are not included on the existing war memorials.

There was a notice board at the entrance to the church which had pictures and newspaper cuttings about Capt Walker.

Mr Willoughby, from Woodcote, said: “He is one of many.

“The first thing that made me aware of him was the fact that his father saw fit to donate the land for the hospital. It’s especially pertinent at this time with Townlands Hospital in the public eye.

“We even got in touch with a relative of Capt Walker in Australia who said he would have a beer or four for him.”



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