Spr. Walter Humphrey (1886 – 1916)

Walter was born in Wrotham during 1886, one of ten children to William and Emily Humphrey (née Driver.) In 1891, when Walter was five, the family lived in the village at Ten Pond Cottage on the Ightham Road. William was working as a farm bailiff, and Walter had started attending the local school, perhaps in Ightham. Ten years later the Humphreys had moved to Basted and were still resident in the parish at the time of the 1911 census. Walter had left school and had found work with his older brother Harry as railway platelayers.

Walter was 28 years old when war broke out, and enlisted in Sevenoaks during early 1915 with the Royal Engineers. Due to his occupation, he was attached to the 112th Railway Company, which was a unit that specifically recruited platelayers. 55806 Spr. W Humphreys was sent to Longmoor for training and embarked in Southampton for Le Havre on board the SS Duchess of Argyle at 5:30 p.m. on 15 February 1915.

By the start of May, the 112th were working on the railway line between Abele and Poperinge. Regrettably the unit War Diary between the end of July 1915, (when Walter was based at Peselhoek), and the period leading up to his death on 21 January 1916, does not appear to have survived, so consequently we cannot be sure of the exact circumstances of his demise other than that he was officially recorded as dying of accidental injuries, which could be related to the work he was performing.

Walter was awarded the 1915 Star, the British War and Victory Medals and buried in the Beauval Communal Cemetery near Amiens.

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