Walter Butt was born in Llanwyddyn Montgomeryshire on 14th June 1887. His father was Walter and his mother Mary Ann. When Walter was born he had an elder brother Charles and two older sisters Agnes and Clara.
The 1901 census shows Walter now had two younger brothers, Frank and Oliver. The family were living at Midhopes Hallam in Sheffield, but sadly Walter’s mother had died in 1899. From the census information it would appear that Walter senior was working as a ‘Navvy’ whilst running a boarding house for other ‘Navvies’.
The school records for Midhopestones Council School show that Walter and his two younger brothers Oliver and Frank started there in 1897 together with his sister Clara.
Picture courtesy of By SMJ, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13714670
By 1911 Walter had left the family home and was living in a lodging house at Barnacre Moor Garstang, whilst working as a labourer for Fylde Water Board, Garstang.
The picture above shows Barnacre Moor with Barnacre reservoir, three reservoirs were constructed between 1861-1922, did Walter work on the building of these reservoirs? We can never be sure but I think there could be a good chance! More information on Barnacre Reservoir can be found here
As I was still trying to find some confirmation that I had the right Walter Butt I checked the 1911 census for his father and found him living at Wadshelf with his oldest daughter Agnes. I then found a newspaper report in the Courier 5th January 1918 –
“Workman Injured- Walter Butt (70) of 178 Sheffield Road Chesterfield was admitted to hospital on Thursday, suffering from a lacerated heel, received while employed at Sheepbridge Works”. This would appear to show that the family had moved to Sheffield Road, and at some point it would seem that Walter junior moved to Sheepbridge, presumably for work and to live with his family. I now feel confident that this is the correct Walter Butt.
When he enlisted early on in WW1, Walters address was given as Sheepbridge, he went to Sheffield to enlist and joined the 25th Battalion Royal Fusiliers.
10th April 1915 the regiment left for Mombasa, when the 25th (Service) Battalion Royal Fusiliers (Frontiersmen) entered the East African Theatre of War on 4th May 1915 they became the second and last ‘white’ British Infantry Battalion to do so and joined what was to become a very diverse force made up of many nations.
Picture courtesy of IWM
After some time, disease and sickness took its toll on the Battalion, due mainly to the Tropical climate, and they never managed to achieve full strength when they went into action. More information can be found about the war in East Africa at
Walter served with the 25th Battalion from 10th April 1915 until 10th June 1917. He was next transferred to 4th Battalion Royal Fusiliers on 24th July 1917 and then on the 9th August he joined the 8th Battalion. I can only guess that he was either injured at some point or was taken ill with some Tropical disease and sent back to England. I cannot find any record for this so it is therefore just an assumption. However, from 24th July 1917 until his death on 30th November 1917 Walter was serving in France.
His medal roll lists the different Battalions he was in and can be seen below.
The 8th Battalion were part of 36th Brigade, 12th Eastern Division and as such they took part in many fierce battles. Between 17 May and 19 October 1917, the Division held positions east of Monchy le Preux, mounting several raids and small scale attacks and beating off some made against them, notably in the area of Hook Trench – Pick Avenue – Tites Copse.
Next came the Cambrai operations –
By Schlacht_von_Cambrai.png: Schaengel89derivative work: Uv1234 (talk) – Schlacht_von_Cambrai.png, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6747607
The special role of 12th Division in the attack of 20 November 1917 was to capture its first objective and then form a defensive flank to the south east, keeping in touch with 55th (West Lancashire) Division which was not attacking. Advancing from Gonnelieu, the Division moved forward through Sonnet and Pam Farms, Bonavis and Lateau Wood, and dug in a defensive flank to allow the cavalry to pass unrestricted, as ordered. On the extreme right of the attack, the 7th Royal Sussex got into Banteux, which had been subjected to gas attack from Livens projectors. The next three days were spent in consolidating as the centre of the battle moved to the north. On 24 November a local operation to move the line to Quarry Post – Bleak Quarry – to gain command of a better line of observation – was carried out by 35th and 36th Brigades, which met with mixed success.
By 29 November it had become apparent that the enemy was assembling a force in the area of Villers Guislain, south of 12th Division in area of 55th. Warning orders were issued: just in time, for on 30 November at 6.45am, heavy shellfire began to fall and by 7.45am Divisional HQ was already out of touch with its forward units. A hard and confused fight followed as the German infantry advanced, the Division falling back across the recently won ground. By the end of the day the line had held at La Vacquerie. (Extract from https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/)
Walter was presumed dead on 30th November 1917, he was 29 years old.
As with many of his fellow soldiers Walter’s body was never found and he is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial at Louverval.
Photo courtesy Commonweath War Graves Commission
More information can be found at https://www.cwgc.org/find/find-cemeteries-and-memorials/79300/cambrai-memorial. There is a slight discrepancy as to where Walter died, as in the record of Personal Effects it states that he died in East Africa, however he is clearly remembered on the Cambrai Memorial, so I think it must be an administrative oversight.
The grave registration report clearly shows that Walter is commemorated at Cambrai.
His medal card shows that he was awarded the British War and Victory Medals together with 14-15 Star.
Walter is remembered on the Brushes War Memorial Old Whittington.
His father remained in Chesterfield and died in 1929.