Tag Archives: great uncle

James Hope WALKER, RFC, 1896 – 1917

With the centenary, tomorrow, of his death in a flying accident during WW1, I want to post something about this Great-Uncle, James Hope WALKER.

James Hope WALKER was born on 3rd July 1896, at Kilpunt, Kirkliston, West Lothian, the second child (first son) of Thomas George WALKER, and Helen Black WALKER (nee CADZOW). His middle-name, “Hope”, is almost certainly a nod to the family’s landlord at Kilpunt; Lord HOPE, the Earl of Hopetoun.james-hope-walker_birth-cert-merged

In 1898 the WALKER family moved south to farm in Hertfordshire; first to Hyde Hall, Buntingford (here is Hyde Hall Farm’s current website and Facebook page), and then in 1904 to Symonds Hyde, Hatfield.

James Hope WALKER joined the 14th London Regiment (the London Scottish) as a Private (Pte.). Regimental.No.4335. The photos of him wearing a kilt (below) appear to be his London Scottish regimental uniform. His medal card shows that he first entered the “Theatre of War”, in France on 4th July 1915.

This letter, dated 24th May 1916, contains an order from the War Office to J.H.Walker’s commanding officer in the London Scottish Regiment, for him to report for training with an Officer Cadet Unit, on 29th May at Whittington Barracks, Litchfield.scan0014-scaled

Transcription;

COPY
List 2. Litchfield (T.F.3)
War Office, London, S.W.
24th May 1916.
Sir,
I am directed to inform you that 4335. Pte. J.H.Walker.
of the unit under your Command, has been selected to undergo a course
of instruction in an Officer Cadet Unit, with a view to his subsequent
appointment to a commission in the Territorial Force.
I am therefore to request that you will order him to report
himself to the Commandant No 8 Officers Cadet Battn, Whittington Barracks, Litchfield.
on the 29th May 1916 not later than 4 p.m.. He should be provided
with a railway warrant for the journey, and should be in possession
of a complete kit. xxxxxxxxxxxx
It must be distinctly understood that in the event of his
failure to pass the required tests on the termination of the course
or it in any other respect he is found to be unsuitable for appoint-
-ment to a commission, he will be returned to your unit for duty in
the ranks, or otherwise disposed of as directed by the Army Council.
An acknowledgment of the receipt of this letter is not
required, but if for any reason the candidate is unable to join, a
telegram should be sent to the War Office as early as practicable,
Followed by a letter stating the circumstances.
I am, Sir, Your obedient Servant,
(Sgd) W.D. Bird.
Director of Staff Duties.
The Officer Commanding
xx 14th (Res) Bn.London Regt.
(London Scottish)
Mortlake.

On (or about) the 25th September 1916, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps. The London Gazette records this in a list published on 20th October 1916 (his name is about a third of the way down on the right-hand side).

One photo among WALKER family papers labels James Hope WALKER, standing on an airfield alongside 3 other (unidentified) servicemen.

James Hope WALKER was killed in a “Flying accident” on 16th March 1917, when the Bristol F.2a fighter biplane (number A3311), which he was flying, had a “loss of flying speed near ground”, at Rendcomb airfield (north of Cirencester, Gloucestershire). The “Casualty Card” from the accident is available from the RAF Museum Story Vault. It records the following;

“The court is of opinion that accident was caused by loss of flying speed owing to the fact that the pilot had switched off in order to effect a slower landing. The throttle being open seems to indicate that the pilot attempted to make use of his engine forgetting he had previously switched off.”

A group of photos among family papers, show an airfield; presumably RAF Rendcomb. Three images show Bristol F.2a fighter biplanes lined up; among them are numbers A3314 and A3329. Another 3 photos show servicemen standing around a crashed plane. This is presumably the crash which killed James Hope WALKER on 16th March 1917. But the images don’t show the plane’s number, so I can’t say for sure!

The following two cards were presumably sent to the WALKER family by the officers of the RFC at Rendcombe following his death.

James Hope WALKER is recorded on several monuments. These include the Hatfield War Memorial. Among family papers are two cards inviting his parents to the dedication of the Hatfield War Memorial on Sunday 12th June (1921) (see below). He is also recorded on a memorial at St Albans School, where he was a pupil (see the Great War Forum for details).

His gravestone, in St Luke’s Churchyard, Hatfield, also mentions one of his sisters, Beatrice Margaret. The FindAGrave website accurately connects this grave to a 1911 census record, and to the gravestones of other WALKER family members, buried at All Saints, Radwell, where there is also an inscription to him,  on the back of his parents gravestone (see; BillionGraves.com).

The portrait (below) of James Hope WALKER appears to have been painted after his death. It is signed ‘E. L. HAWES, 1919′, and “EVA L. HAWES, 24 WINDSOR RD, CHURCH END FINCHLEY” is written on the back. I have no other information about the artist. The portrait is in an envelope, addressed in pencil to James’ mother, “Mrs Walker, Radwell Bury, Baldock, Herts” (an address which his parents moved to in about 1935).

John Johnston WALKER, 1848 – 1891

This is one in a series of blog posts about some old papers of the WALKER family, from Kirkliston, West Lothian, Scotland. You can see a list of these papers HERE.

John Johnston WALKER
Photo of John Johnston WALKER, taken (I think) shortly before he left for New Zealand in 1869.

Having mentioned him, and included his photo, in a previous piece, I want to post a bit more about this 2x Gt-Uncle, John Johnston WALKER. To my present knowledge, at least on the WALKER side of my family, John is the closest relative to my direct ancestry (i.e. a son/daughter, brother/sister, uncle/aunt) to have emigrated from the British Isles.

What little I know about him is mostly contained in the WALKER family history, first written by my Granddad (John’s nephew) in the 1950’s. I copy the little section written about John, here;

John Johnston Walker was born 21st January 1848. He went to New Zealand in 1869 [aged 21] and was manager of a large Sheep Station at Edendale until 1877, when he decided to start on his own, and took up a virgin block of land on the Otamakapua Block. In 1891 he went to Feilding to have treatment for a severe attack of fever and was treated by a Doctor Charlton without success, and died on 19th November 1891. On his retirement from the sheep station, where he was most popular, he was presented with a very handsome gold watch and chain.

I’m not 100% sure about the locations mentioned, particularly “Edendale”, of which I can find 3 identified places with that name, around New Zealand! (Search for “Edendale”, HERE)

On a trip to New Zealand in 2013, my uncle, David, visited Feilding and took the following photos (note; these are scans of the prints I have from him);

The gravestone at Feilding cemetery reads;

“In Memory of
John J. Walker,
born at Kilpunt, Linlithgowshire,
Scotland.
Died at Feilding, N.Z., 19th Nov. 1891,
Aged 44 Years”

scan0003John’s death is also recorded on a gravestone in Kirkliston churchyard, West Lothian, Scotland, along with his parents, infant brother, and 3 of his sisters.

I have found just one document about John Johnston WALKER among the WALKER family papers; a letter home from him, responding to news of his father’s death in 1881. (See below for transcription and notes).

Page 1; letter-home-from-john-j-walker_july-1881_p1_300dpiTranscription of Page 1 (right side);

Lyndhurst*
July 15th 1881
My Dear Mother,
I am in receipt of ~ Tom’s letter conveying the ~ sad news of my Father’s death. ~ It is certainly a very solemn ~ [invitation] we have received ~ from Him with whom we ~ have to do. I feel the loss ~ very much for your sake ~ & for mine but we must ~ bow ourselves submissively ~ before Almighty God and ~ say ‘Thy will be done’.

Regarding the estate of ~ my late Father, I do not ^[think] it ~ would be prudent to advise ~ you, as I lack a knowledge ~ of circumstances. One thing ~

Page 1 (left side);

and that is ? would Kilpunt ~ be worth keeping seeing so ~ much money has been lost ~ by farming it of late years. ~ So far as I am concerned ~[treat] me as if I was not, at ~ the same time if I can help ~ you in any way depend upon ~ me. I too have lost [heavily] ~ at farming. two years ago – ~ £800 went. but what of ~ that.

If Tom is inclined to farm the ~old place so as to keep the ~ family together let him do ~ so. But before [signing] any ~ lease, don’t forget to be pre~pared against foreign com~petition.

Now Tom*, I as your elder ~ brother would kindly advise

Page 2; letter-home-from-john-j-walker_july-1881_p2_300dpiTranscription of Page 2 (left side);

to look well to our Mother’s ~ ## comfort & happiness & ~ also to that of our sisters. ~ Don’t go hunting, or pleasure ~ seeking, but seldom: remem~ber we must try to discharge ~ our late Father’s debts, for ~ I think it is a duty of ours ~ if we com by [God’s] help ~ perform.

Some one here sent word ~ I was ill. He was mistaken ~ I kindly bid you ad[..] ~ [m…le_] Am writing in ~ haste to post for mail_

Yours Aff-ly
J. Walker
P.S. Will write next mail
for sure___
put in [p…ite] for me

Page 2 (right side);

address as formerly-

*Notes; I’m not sure of the location given at the top of the letter! There is a “Lyndhurst” west of Christchurch, on the east side of South Island. (See NZ Topo Map ).

* “Tom” – was John’s youngest brother; Thomas George WALKER (my Great-Grandfather).

Searching the internet, I have found two other documents of interest;

First; a newspaper report of John Johnston WALKER’s death, from The Feilding Star newspaper, Thurs, 19th November 1891 (via Past Papers; National Library of New Zealand);

Report in the Feilding Star newspaper, NZ, 19 Nov 1891
Newspaper report

This morning there died at Buckingham Palace, (Mr Worsfold’s boardinghouse). a settler named John Johnston Walker, who was one of the first selectors on the Otamakapua Block. Some months ago he came to Feilding for medical treatment as he was suffering from fever. Dr Charlton was unremitting in his attention and managed to cure his patient so far, but Mr Walker suffered a relapse, and lung disease rapidly developed. From the beginning Dr Charlton held ont no hopes of recovery, and the deceased was quite prepared for the fatal termination of his complaint. Mr and Mrs Worsfold showed every possible kindness and provided all that was necessary to insure the most perfect comfort of the invalid. The funeral will take place tomorrow at 10:30 am.

Second; in just the last few days (Dec. 2016) I’ve found details of John Johnston WALKER’s Will in New Zealand’s Probate records, available through FamilySearch.org. (I am unsure of FamilySearch’s copyright policy, so I won’t copy the images here! But I will add links to the page images – please click on the numbers – and I type up my own transcription of the text);

Image no. 154;

38290 ~ Dated 24 Sep 1891 ~ WILL ~ of ~ Mr John. J. Walker ~ John Prior ~ Solicitor ~ Feilding

Image 155;

A
This is the last Will and Testament of me ~ John Johnston Walker of Otamakapua in the ~ Provincial District of Wellington and Colony of ~ New Zealand. Farmer. I appoint Ernest Albert ~ Barton of Feilding in the Provincial District of ~ Wellington, Bank Agent (hereafter called “my ~ Trustee”) to be the Executer and Trustee of this ~ my will. I give devise and bequeath the ~ whole of my Real and personal property of ~ whatsoever nature or kind and wheresoever ~ situate including amongst other things my ~ interest in a perpetual Lease, moneys at the ~ Bank on deposit and open account into my ~ Trustee Upon trust that my Trustee shall sell ~ call in and convert into money the same or such ~ part thereof as shall not consist of money and ~ shall with and out of the monies produced by ~ such sale calling in and conversion and with ~ and out of such part of my personal Estate as ~ shall consist of money pay my funeral and ~ testamentary expenses and debts and shall stand ~ possessed of the residue of the said monies in ~ [burial] for my Uncle Thomas Johnston* of No.25 ~ Athol Gardens*, Glasgow, Scotland absolutely.

In Witness whereof I have to this my last Will ~ and Testament – set my hand this twenty fourth ~ day of September one Thousand Eight hundred ~ and ninety one.

Signed by the above named John ~ Johnston Walker as his last Will ~ and Testimony in the presence of ~ us both being present at the ~ same time who at his request ~ in his presence and in the ~ presence of Each other have ~ here[unto] subscribed our names ~ as witnesses.

John. J. Walker (signature)

[Clifton] [Chaelton] MB. [Clu.] […] ~ Feilding (signature)

John Prior ~ Solicitor, Feilding. (signature)

Note on Left side of the page (img.155), at 90°.;

This is the paper [w…] marked “a” referred [to] in the ~ Affidavit of Ernest Albert Barton […] this 29th day of ~ December 1891 Before me ~ […(signature)…] ~ A Solicitor of the Supreme Court of New Zealand.

In addition to the Will, there are 7 further images of related Supreme Court documents, which are worth a look at, but which I won’t transcribe here because they seem to yield few additional details of note!

See; Image 156; Image 157; Image 158; Image 159; Image 160; Image 161; & Image 162.

*Note; “John JOHNSTON” was a brother of John Johnston WALKER’s mother, Margaret. I think that “Athol Gardens” might be “Athole Gardens, Glasgow, G12 9BQ

I would be interested to find more details about John Johnston WALKER; like where he lived/travelled in New Zealand, and the passenger records for when he moved out there in 1869 (which I’ve started having a little look for, but not yet found anything!).

If you know of anything more about John Johnston WALKER, that you could direct me towards, then please leave a comment below, or use the Contact Page to get in touch. Thanks.