Leonard Walton

lincolnshire regimental badgeCompany Quarter-Master Sergeant, 7519, 1st Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment, killed in action, 23rd October 1918, aged 31

Born at Sheffield in 1886, the brother of Percy and cousin of Alf Walton, Len was the eldest son and one of seven children of Charles and Lydia Walton (nee Kay). His father was from Crowle and mother from Sheffield. The family had moved to Crowle by 1891, where they were living in North End and Charles was a farm labourer. By 1901 both Len and his father had gone to work along with Uncle Leonard as peat cutters on the Moors, and the two families were also living next door to one another in Justice Hall Lane.

When he left the army in 1913 Len became engaged to Emma Troope, elder sister of Walter Boxholme Troope, but he was called up again before they could be married.

Len enlisted in the Lincolnshire Regiment at Scunthorpe in 1905. Completing his eight years in 1913 he was a reservist when war broke out. Mobilised on 5th August he reported for duty with the 1st Lincoln’s then in camp at Portsmouth. They were among the early units to be sent out with the British Expeditionary Force, arriving in Le Harve on 14th August.

The first action of the 1st Lincoln’s in the Great War was at The Battle of Mons and then the subsequent retreat. One of their more notable actions at this time was at the Battle of the Marne in 1914, when Len was one of the party of Lincolnshire Regiment men who captured the German field gun which is now in the Museum of Lincolnshire Life.

A Corporal when he went out to France, Len had just been promoted to Sergeant in October 1914 when he was wounded in the left shoulder. Transferred back to England to recover, he was in hospital in Sheffield for a time in November. He was wounded for a second time during the Battle of the Somme in 1916, which saw a short stay in a hospital in Rouen. He also received another battlefield promotion during the Somme, becoming Acting Sergeant-Major in November 1916.

October 1918 the 1st Lincoln’s were among the troops of the 21st Division who had caught up with the retreating German forces at the Selle River. The Germans put up stiffer resources than expected, so on 23rd October the Allied commanders called for a major assault to push them back from the Selle.

The 1st Lincoln’s assembled in a valley north-east of Amerval and by 9.30am had taken their initial objective on the River Harpies with only light resistance. Pushing on to their next objective, to clear the enemy from the town of Vendegies-au-Bois they came up against stiffer opposition, suffering casualties from heavy machine-gun and shell fire.

In the attack on Vendegies-au-Bois, part of the Battle of the Selle, the 1st Lincoln’s had 50 men wounded and lost 15 men killed. Among them was Len Walton.

Len was buried initially at Neuvilly British Cemetery. However when this cemetery was closed shortly after the armistice, his body was exhumed and Len is now buried in Seldridge British Cemetery, Montay.

A memorial service was held for Len at the Primitive Methodist Chapel in January 1919. Both his parents and his fiancee placed memoriam for him in the local newspapers.

walton len memorium CA Nov 1918