Second Lieutenant Walter Charles Littley Johnson

Date of Birth c. 1887
Age at Death
Date of Death 30 May 1917
Service Number PS/2868
Military Service 6th Battalion Middlesex Regiment
Merton Address 10 Princes Road, Wimbledon
Local Memorial Wimbledon Parish Church

Additional Information

Walter was born in Wimbledon in 1887 and baptised in St Mary’s Church on 26 June 1887. He was the eldest child of builder’s clerk Charles Johnson and his wife, Ellen. Between 1889 and 1896 the couple had a further three sons, Ernest, Edgar and Cecil.

During Walter’s early childhood, his family lived at 5 Lingfield Road, Wimbledon, however by 1901 the Johnsons had moved to 25 High Street, Wimbledon. Charles Johnson was now listed a building surveyor and his rise in status meant that the family could afford to employ a live-in servant.

Walter and his brothers were all educated at Rutlish School in Merton Park. This had its own cadet force and would have given Walter valuable experience for his later military role. His mother died in December 1910 and by 1911 the family was living in a large house at 11 South Park Road, Wimbledon. Walter, now 24, was working as a bank clerk. His brother Ernest was a marine engineer and his younger siblings, Edgar and Cecil were both employed as shipping clerks. In December 1911, Walter’s father married Gertrude Eason. His three half-sisters, Ethel, Phyllis and Daphne were born between 1912 and 1917. (A fourth half sister, Sybil, was born in 1919, two years after Walter’s death, but sadly died in infancy).

Walter volunteered for military service on 5 November 1914 and became a Private in the 21st Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. This was part of the Public Schools and University Men’s Force. After basic training, he was sent to France on 14 November 1915. Walter’s unit became part of the 33rd Division, which was largely comprised of Pals battalions from the south of England. He is likely to have been based in the Morbecque in Northern France.

During 1916 troops from the 33rd division took part in several major battles of the Somme offensive, including the Battle of Albert (1 – 13 July), the Battle of Bazentin (14 July) and High Wood (14 – 15 July).

On 25 September 1916, Walter was granted a commission and became a Second Lieutenant in the 6th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment. The regiment took part in the Arras offensive, which lasted from 9 April to 16 May, 1917. Despite big gains on the first day of fighting, British troops were then caught in a lengthy stalemate, with heavy losses. By the spring of 1917 Walter was attached to the 16th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment – his unit took part in the three battles of the Scarpe (9 April – 4 May) covering an area between Arras and Monchy.

On 30 May the 16th Middlesex attacked Hook Trench and 11 officers and 230 others lost their lives. Walter died in this offensive, aged 30, and his body was never found. His widowed father, now living at 10 Princes Road, Wimbledon, wrote to the War Office asking for details of his son but there is no record of a reply. In his will, Walter left £383 11s to Minnie Brooks “spinster” - she may have been his sweetheart.

Walter Johnson’s name appears on the Arras memorial in France, one of 35,000 Allied servicemen with no known grave. He is also commemorated at Wimbledon Parish Church.


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