Bernard Walker

yorkshire dragoons badgePrivate, 175680 (previously Trooper 3709), 1/1st Queen’s Own Yorkshire Dragoons Yeomanry, killed in action, 16th September 1918, aged 21

Born at Crowle in 1897, Bernard was the elder brother of Fred Walker and second of three sons of Frederick (Fred) and Alice Walker (nee Lynch). Both of his parents were also from Crowle. When he was born, Bernard’s father Fred was a bricklayer, but by 1911 he had left the building trade to become steward of the Crowle Liberal Club. The family lived in Eastoft Road.

According to his army number Bernard enlisted in the local territorial cavalry regiment, the Queen’s Own Yorkshire Dragoons, at Doncaster in 1915. The Yorkshire Dragoons recruited from across Yorkshire and Bernard would have served with C Squadron which covered the Doncaster and Goole area.

During the war the Yorkshire Dragoons raised two extra regiments and of the three only the 1/1st Battalion went to France. Bernard would therefore have spent the early part of his service with either the 2/1st Yorkshire Dragoons, based on the east coast of Yorkshire, or the 3/1st Yorkshire Dragoons, raised early in 1915 to supply drafts for the other two regiments and quartered first at York and later Tidworth.

Bernard was posted to France in February 1917. Whilst there he would have seen very little actual cavalry service, as although the 1/1st Yorkshire Dragoons had been deployed to France in July 1915 they only participated in two actual mounted cavalry attacks. The first during the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line in April 1917 and second at the Battle of Cambria in November-December 1917. They did play a part in many other actions, such as the Battles of the Somme in 1916 and 1917 and the Battles of Ancre and Ypres in 1917, where their role was to support the line troops as observation scouts and dispatch riders.

In February 1918 the Regiment was officially dismounted and converted to a cyclist battalion. On 16th March 1918 they came under the orders of II Corps to become the 2nd Cyclist Battalion (Yorkshire Dragoons), II Corps.

On 16th September 1918, the Battalion were in support of 14th Division in trenches in the vicinity of Zonnebeke Lake, east of Ypres. During the afternoon Bernard was with a party of ten men repairing the trench when they came under attack from an artillery bombardment. One of the shells landed directly where they were working. Two men escaped injury, three were wounded but Bernard Walker was one of the five men killed. He is buried in Hagle Dump Cemetery.

The news of Bernard’s death reached his parents only two days after that of his brother. A third brother, Tom, served as a Driver in the Army Service Corps.