Walter Broxholme Troope

walter broxholme troopeLance Corporal, 695056, Labour Corps, (previously 3901 5th (Reserve) Battalion, later 241297, 2/5th Battalion and 532295, 4th (Reserve) Battalion, Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry), died of influenza, 11th March 1920, aged 28

Born on 22nd June 1891 at Crowle, Walter was the eldest son and one of seven children of Joseph Troope and his second wife Alice Broxholme. His father was a farm labourer, who later became a gardener, from Clifton, Nottinghamshire and his mother was from Wragby. They had only recently moved to Crowle from Belton when Walter was born. In 1901 they lived next door to William Taylor’s family in Coultards Lane, later moving to Commonside. Walter’s sister Ethel was engaged to Len Walton.

In 1911 Walter was working as a carter on a farm at Hooten Pagnell, near Barnsley. Shortly afterwards he left agriculture to become a coal miner and was working at South Kirby Colliery, living in South Emsall, when he enlisted in the army.

Walter enlisted in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry at Doncaster on 27th October 1914. His first two years he served at home in the 2/5th (Reserve) Battalion and during this time he was married to Mary Jane (Fanny) Haggart, the marriage taking place at South Emsall on 14th August 1915. The couple already had two children and went on to have two more.

Walter had been judged as Medically Unfit for Foreign Service on 25th January 1915 but with a desperate need for men following the losses of the Battle of the Somme, the army called up many of its reserve units. So on 14th January 1917, Walter and the 2/5th KOYLI arrived in France. During 1917 they were involved in actions including the Retreat to the Hindenberg Line and the Battle of Arras. On 20th November they were supporting the tank operations at the Battle of Cambrai when Walter received a gunshot wound in his leg. Treated for a week by the Royal Army Medical Corps units in France he was evacuated back to the UK on 30th November 1917 and sent to a hospital in Seacombe to rest and recover.

Following his recovery Walter was again declared unfit for active service and on 8th February 1918 formally transferred to the 4th (Reserve) Battalion KOYLI. From there he was sent to the 479th Agricultural Company, Labour Corps at Lincoln on 8th March 1918, presumably helping produce food for the war effort, and stayed here until the end of the war. Following the armistice in November 1918 he was placed on the Reserve List before being finally discharged on 10th March 1919.

There were already problems in Walter’s marriage when he was placed on the army reserve list, as when he went back to work at South Kirby Colliery in Yorkshire his wife had been living in Shildon, County Durham for two years. On later pension forms Mary is described as a ‘separated wife’.

Despite having a job in the coal mine and an army pension, Walter decided to put his family problems behind and on 27th May 1919 he re-enlisted in the Labour Corps at Pontefract. Posted to France with 3 Labour Company in June 1919 he was promoted to Acting Lance Corporal on 9th October 1919.

With the army beginning to withdraw from France he was transferred home to the Labour Company Clearing Section in London on 9th December 1919 where only three days afterwards he was admitted to the Rochester Row Military Hospital, London, for treatment of gonorrhoea and pyrexia (a high fever) on 12th December 1919.

It appears that once in hospital he picked up the Spanish flu. With his condition worsening on 6th March 1920 he was transferred from Rochester Row to Queen Alexandra’s Military Hospital, Millbank with symptoms including a cough, pains in his back and chest and an irregular heart pattern, officially diagnosed as lobar pneumonia. Over the next few days the symptoms worsened and by 9th March he was described as in a ‘very bad condition’. At 7.50pm on 11th March 1920, Walter Troope died of cardiac failure brought on by influenza and pneumonia.

Walter was buried in Crowle Cemetery on 16th March 1920.

grave of walter troope

Grave of Walter Troope in Crowle Cemetery, courtesy Angus Townley/Crowle & Ealand Heritage Society

walter troope headstone