|Date of Birth||February 15, 1891|
|Place of Birth||Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire|
|Next of Kin||Mr Arthur Walton, father, 6 Market Street, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, England|
|Trade / Calling||Labourer|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Address at Enlistment||Keewatin, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||October 22, 1914|
|Age at Enlistment||23|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||September 15, 1916|
|Age at Death||25|
|Buried At||no known grave/Vimy Memorial|
Henry Arthur (Harry) Walton was born on 15 February 1891 in Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, England. His parents were Arthur and Fanny (née Parfitt) Walton who had married in the second quarter of 1888 in Avon, Somerset. Arthur was born in Bradford-on-Avon while Fanny was born in Melksham in Wiltshire, a distance of only 6.4 miles between the two communities.
Harry had an older sister Florence Amy who was born on 5 June 1889, also in Bradford-on-Avon. For the 1891 England census the family was found living at 3 Newtown in Bradford-on-Avon, father’s occupation listed as postman. Besides Arthur, Fanny, Florence and Harry, living in the household was also Mary Ann Parfitt, Fanny’s mother.
By the 1901 England census the family had moved into 2 Newtown, and Arthur was still working as a postman. Mary Ann was no longer with the family, having died on 25 September 1891. By the 1911 England census the family had moved down the street to 45 Newtown in Bradford-on-Avon, with Arthur continuing to work as a postman, Florence as a shop assistant for a pork butcher, and Harry as a rubber worker for Rubber Works. The census also showed that another child had been born to Arthur and Fanny sometime since their marriage but had died. By 1914, Harry’s father Arthur was running a pork butchers at 8 Market Street. Harry was one of the first to join the Church Lads Brigade in Bradford.
On 20 May 1913 Henry (Harry) Walton left Liverpool, England aboard the Teutonic, destination Keewatin, Ontario, Canada. Arriving in Quebec 27 May he travelled by train (Canadian National Railway) to Keewatin. According to the 1911 Canada census, Fanny’s brother Fred Parfitt and family of wife Elizabeth (née Woodhouse), and children William Joseph, David George, and Arthur Robert were already living in Keewatin on Superior Street by the time of Harry’s arrival.
On October 22 of the following year of 1914, Harry enlisted in nearby Kenora, Ontario, occupation given as labourer. On that particular day a lot of young lads signed up with the 27th Battalion. On his attestation papers Harry was noted as a bugler with having previously served for two months in Company, 98th Regiment, and also with the Territorial Cadets.
The 27th (City of Winnipeg) Battalion was the first independent battalion to be raised in Manitoba in the First World War, raised as part of a response to the demand for reinforcements as Canada struggled overseas. With the 27th Battalion, Henry (aka Harry) left Kenora for training in Winnipeg on 1 November 1914 according to an article in the Kenora Miner and News dated November 4th. Another article in the paper dated 15 May 1915 told of the battalion passing through Kenora from Winnipeg on May 12 heading east on the first leg of the journey overseas. All newspaper clippings mistakenly list him as Harry A Watson. On 17 May the 27th Battalion left Quebec aboard the Carpathia. By 18 September a cable had been received that the 27th Battalion had left England for France. Once in France, Harry was admitted to No 6 Canadian Field Ambulance in January for 6 days, suffering from a sprained knee.
The 27th Battalion’s first major offensive was the battle of St Eloi, 5 kilometres from Ypres. Begun on 27 March 1916 by the British, the Canadians joined in on 04 Apr with the 27th Battalion taking over the front line, fully exposed to artillery fire. Casualties were high.
On 31 March 1916 Harry was granted eight days leave of absence. Shortly after returning Harry suffered from shellshock and was admitted to No 6 Canadian Field Ambulance on 20th of April. He was then transferred to No 4 Canadian Field Ambulance and then on to a rest station in Mont des Cats. He was discharged to his unit in early May.
One of the most notable battles of Somme the 27th Battalion participated in was the Battle of Courcelette, begun on the morning of 15 September 1916. This battle marked the first time in history that tanks were used in warfare although all 6 tanks were knocked out that day. Lasting until 22nd of September, the Canadian Corps lost about 7 200 soldiers. One of them was Private Henry Arthur Walton as on the first day of the battle, 15 September 1916, previously reported as missing, Henry Arthur Walton was declared as killed in action, the Somme, France.
His Commonwealth War Grave Register card states that his body was not recovered for burial and thus his name is found on the Vimy Memorial, along with 11 000 Canadian soldiers who were posted as ‘missing, presumed dead’ in France. At the time of his death he was apparently acting as dispatch runner for his regiment. On 22 September 1936 the final register was sent to his father, address Pentleigh Terrace, British Road, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England.
In two personal letters quoted in the Wiltshire Times back in Bradford, on 21 Oct 1916, Henry had written on enlisting: ‘I am afraid that many precious lives will be sacrificed before it is over, but no man who calls himself an Englishman can sit down and let the Empire be crushed by this madman, and those who give their lives will have given them for the honour of their country and the peace of the whole world.’ Later, he wrote: ‘I would rather die fighting than be ruled by these Prussian brutes. As our fathers of the old fought and died for the freedom of England, so we must fight for the peace of the world-surely a greater glory indeed.’*
The town of Keewatin held a demonstration in August of 1919 to honour all who served in the war, presenting badges and medals to the veterans or the next of kin. Listed in the Miner and News article as being honoured was Henry Walton.
Harry’s cousin David George Parfitt, also from Bradford/Keewatin, enlisted at Valcartier, Quebec on 21 September 1914, achieving rank of Company Sergeant Major before his death on 26 September 1916 in France. He too is listed on the Vimy Memorial. Harry’s mother died in the first quarter of 1944 and his father on 29 September 1947, both in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England. His sister Florence married Frank Huntley 6 August 1924 and they went on to have 3 known children.
Private Henry (Harry) Arthur Walton is commemorated on page 178 of the First World War Book of Remembrance in Ottawa, on the Keewatin Cenotaph in Beatty Park in Keewatin, Ontario, on the Lake of the Woods Milling Company Roll of Honour plaque, on the online tribute of the Lake of the Woods Milling Company Honour Roll, on the Keewatin St James Anglican Church plaques, on the Municipality of Keewatin plaque, on the Bradford-on-Avon War Memorial, and on the Holy Trinity Church Memorial, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, England.
by Judy Stockham
Church Lads Brigade Band: courtesy of Bradford-on-Avon Museum
photograph of Harry in uniform: courtesy of Darleen (née Balchin) Wolfe
Keewatin Boys Reported Missing, Believed Killed: courtesy of David Parfitt
Bugler H Walton, Canadian Contingent-Killed in Action: Canadian Virtual War Memorial, a transcript of a Church Lads’ Brigade magazine article
Bradford-on-Avon War Memorial photograph: copyright Chris Talbot and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence
Bradford-on-Avon War Memorial names photograph: copyright Bradford-on-Avon Museum, Bridge Street, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire
Holy Trinity Church, Bradford-on-Avon photograph: copyright Chris Talbot and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence
Holy Trinity Church; ‘My Life was Given for Thee’, 1914-1918 photograph: copyright Bradford-on-Avon Museum, Bridge Street, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire
Research notes: *quotations provided by Jonathan Falconer, author, Names in Stone: Forgotten Warriors of Bradford-on-Avon and District, 1914-18 (Bed & Bolster Publishing, 2010)