Valerie Slater of Coverdale provided this story about her grandmother, Catherine Walls – a happy and unusual tale wherein all 5 of her sons survived the Great War.
In 1883, Catherine Louisa Polden, then living in Dorset set eyes on George Walls for the first time. It was love at first sight. George was twenty years older than Catherine and arranged the wedding with all haste – the marriage by licence took place at Hampreston near Wimborne.
Catherine left the county of her birth, never to return. After journeying north, Catherine and George made their home in Carlton at Coverdale Cottage. The couple had three daughters and five sons born between 1886 and 1898. George died in 1908 so Catherine had to face the anxious war years supported by her daughters. She was a religious woman, so her faith combined with her respected and busy life as unofficial midwife in the village helped her to get through. Her prayers were answered.
William Walls (born 1898) served in the Machine Gun Corps; George (born 1889) was with 21st Kings Royal Rifles, being wounded by shrapnel at the Battle of Flers-Courcelet on 17 September 1916; Alfred (born 1891) served in the Army Service Corps and then the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, he was hospitalised twice (the second occasion being the result of a gas attack); Joe (born 1896) enlisted with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps with his brother Dick. Joe was discharged from the army in November of 1916 due to ill health, and is likely to have returned home to Carlton. Dick (born 1892), who signed up in December 1915 was in the 21st King’s Royal Rifles and was wounded by gunshot to his right hand which entitled him to a pension of 5/-6d from March of 1919. Joe and Dick’s KRRC service numbers were consecutive (C/12882 and C/12884) as they went to war together.
Despite injury, all five brothers returned from the Great War.
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Anthea Dunne dropped into the museum with a photo of her father (pictured in the centre of the group), and after a little research she has managed to piece together the story of his service during the First World War. William George Samuel Padden was my father from Pontnewydd, near Newport, Monmouthshire, he volunteered and enlisted at Carmarthen in west Wales on 9th October 1914, as part of The Pembrokeshire Yeomanry, the Territorial Force. As a Private in the Pembroke Yeomanry, he was given the regimental number 4390. Although not compelled to, he signed up as willing to serve overseas. He was transfered to 210 Company of the Machine Gun Corps (part of the 4th Dismounted Brigade) on 22nd October 1916 and given the new regimental number 74792. Initially a private in the Machine Gun Corps, he later became a corporal (29th May 1918). In April 1916 he sailed for Alexandria as part of the 4th Dismounted Brigade, fought in Egypt, stationed at Wadi El Natrun for 2 years. By 1917 this brigade had become part of The Welsh Regiment. By May 1918 he was fighting on the Western front in France. He was wounded on September 25th 1918 and sent home to a military hospital in Reading with a fractured right femur. He was finally discharged from hospital on May 3rd 1919 with a 40% degree of disablement and a pension of 12 shillings a week [with a temporary bonus of 20%]. He received a Silver War Badge in…
Walter Gorner Barker was born in Richmond on 2 August 1889. For a time he lived with his family at 71 Frenchgate. He worked as a footman for Sir Mark Sykes at the family seat, Sledmere House near Driffield. Sykes was Commanding Officer of the 5th (Territorial) Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment before the war. It seems that Walter may have served as a territorial soldier before the war (he has a low early regimental number 2274 which is then revised later to 240643). He enlisted at Scarborough and became a Private in the 5th battalion. Walter died on 27 May 1918, south of Craonnne. Prior to this, the battalion war diary records several days as ‘day quiet in trenches’ before the ominous entry for 26th May – ‘”Stood to” at night owing to information received that enemy attack was to be delivered on morning of 27th May’. The diary records that the bombardment began at 1 am with the enemy attacking at 4.30am. The battle lasted for four days. Walter Gorner Barker is commemorated on the Soissons Memorial in France.
In October 1915 Geoffrey Howard Smith was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 5th Battalion from being a member of the ranks of the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps (O.T.C.). At that time he was probably based at the O.T.C. training camp at Berkhamsted Common Hertfordshire. In August 1916 he is listed as wounded in France. He recovers from his wounds but in June 1918 he is listed as missing then confirmed as a prisoner of war in September 1918. Smith remained in captivity until his release and return to England in January 1919. This event is recognised by a letter sent to him from King George V.