No.5296 Sapper William Edward Walker
William Edward Walker was born at Port Melbourne on 6 April 1897 to George James Walker (a plasterer from Port Melbourne) * and Robina Elizabeth Davis. They had married in Leichardt New South Wales on 10 August 1893, ** and had four children in Victoria:
- Ada Beatrice Walker - born 1901 at Port Melbourne. Cert No.13598/1901
- Vera May Walker - born 1894 at Port Melbourne. Cert No.32167/1894
- William Edward Walker - born 1897 at Port Melbourne. Cert No.13608/1897
- Emily Dorothy Walker - born 1900 at Port Melbourne. Cert No.13549/1900
The Victorian Electoral Roll for 1909 records that his parents, George and Robina were living at 20 Sydenham Street in Footscray, and that his father was employed as an engine driver.
Prior to enlisting in the A.I.F., William Walker had spent time with the Senior Cadets, in the 65th Infantry Battalion at Footscray.
He also undertook an apprenticeship for five years with Mr Hugh V. McKay at the Sunshine Harvesters factory at Sunshine, Victoria.
William Edward Walker enlisted in the A.I.F. at Melbourne on 10 July 1915. After completing initial training at the Broadmeadows camp, he attended the A.I.F. Signal School between 18 October 1915 and 20 November 1915. At the completion of his training, he was appointed as a Sapper with the 2nd Division Signal Company.
The Brooklyn Progress Association held a farewell function for four volunteers at the local Methodist Church on Saturday 4 September 1915. Each man was presented with a pocket book and a wallet by the president of the Association. Those honoured at the occasion were:
- Private G. Brown [to hard to find] (not on Werribee Honour Board)
- Private Alexander R. Bunting [A.I.F. No.8667] (not on Werribee Honour Board)
- Private William Walker [A.I.F. No.5296]
- Private Francis Cowell [A.I.F. No.4999] (not on Werribee Honour Board)
At the young age of 18 years, Sapper William Edward Walker embarked at Melbourne on 5 January 1916, per H.M.A.T. A19, AFRIC, with the 2nd Section of the 13th Reinforcements for the 2nd Divisional Signal Company.
They sailed to Egypt, where they underwent further training, and on 6 March 1916, he embarked at Alexandria per the Thermistocles, and proceeded to join the B.E.F. in France. After disembarking at Marseilles on 21 March 1916, he was taken on strength with the 2nd Division Signal Company, "in-the-field", in France.
The 2nd Division Signal Company were tasked with providing communications between Headquarters and their subordinate formations. These were 5th (New South Wales) Brigade, the 6th (Victorian) Brigade, and the 7th Brigade, and the Divisional units of Artillery, Engineers, Pioneers, Machine Gun Battalions and other service units.
Field communications in France and Belgium were primarily by field telephone (connected by land lines), as well as despatch riders on motorcycles, bicycles and on horseback. Carrier pigeons, rockets and signal lamps were also employed. Radios were introduced towards the end of the war, after they became more reliable.
On 9 December 1916, when the 2nd Division were in the Vignacourt Area, Sapper Walker went absent without leave for one day. At a trial held two days later, on 11 December 1916, he was awarded seven days Field Punishment No.2, *** and forfeited nine days pay.
During April 1917, Sapper Walker was attached to the 4th Field Artillery Brigade when they moved from Vaulx to Noreuil Valley.
In August 1917, Sapper Walker was admitted to hospital, sick, suffering from scabies, a highly contagious skin condition, caused by an infestation of itch mite parasites.
Six months after the signing of the Armistice, that ended the War, Sapper William Walker marched out from France on 4 April 1919, and joined the No.2 Group in England, to await a passage home.
On 20 May 1919, he embarked in England per H.T. Nestor, and disembarked at Melbourne on 2 July 1919. He was formally discharged from the A.I.F. on 24 August 1919.
“Edw Wm Walker” married “Veronica Liln Webb” in Victoria in 1920.
ancestry.com.au – Australian Marriage index, 1788-1950, Cert No.2910/1920
In 1924, his Service Medals were sent to him at 352 Geelong Road, West Footscray. According to the Electoral roll he was living there with Veronica Lillian Walker, and he was employed as an iron-turner.
By 1931, they had moved home, and were living at 149 Williamstown Road, West Footscray. He needed a copy of his military discharge papers, as his originals had been lost while moving house.
Veronica Lillian Walker (nee Webb) died in 1964, aged 69.
On 6 June 1969, William Edward Walker wrote to the Repatriation Department from 7 Byrne Street in Benalla, and applied for benefits under the Act. Then, several months later, he died at Benalla, on 9 October 1969. His cremated remains are in the Rose Garden, Altona Memorial Park.
Medals and Entitlements:
- British War Medal - No.32071
- Victory Medal - No.31829
There is a photo of William in uniform at https://discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/browse/gallery/2926
Name on the Werribee Shire Oak Board: WALKER, W.
During the course of the Great War, two men with the surname 'Walker' appeared briefly in the Rolls’ of Honor, which were published by the Werribee Shire Banner.
Walker, W. from West Footscray, between 13 February 1919 and 6 March 1919.
Walker, Frank from Little River, between 29 July 1915 and 30 March 1916.
* Occupation from his Marriage Certificate on Ancestry.
** Ancestry – Australia Marriage Index, 1788-1952, N.S.W. No 4350/1893 & Sydney, Anglican Parish Registers, 1814-2011
*** Field Punishment No.2. - There were two categories field punishment. Field punishment No. 1 consisted of heavy labouring duties, possibly being restrained in handcuffs or fetters, and being tied to a post or wheel. Field punishment No. 2 differed, in that the offender was not liable to be attached to a fixed object.
Unit War Diary
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Federation Index 1889-1901 CD
Edwardian Index 1902-1913 CD
Great War Index 1914-1920 CD
Marriage Index 1921-1942 CD