Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Walter Vickers

Walter Vickers :

Walter Vickers : (L to R) 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal

(L to R) 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal

We don't know anything about Walter's family or early life.

The First World War broke out in August 1914 and Walter joined the Army in November. He had a close enough connection to Manchester to join the 6th City Battalion. This was a 'Pals' unit being raised by men from this city who wanted to serve together. This unit became the 21st Battalion of the Manchester Regiment and Walter was assigned to XII Platoon in C Company. His service number was 18745.

The 21st Battalion trained in Manchester until January 1915 when it moved to Morecambe, Lancashire. That April Walter moved to Belton Park near Grantham, Lincolnshire, and in September he was sent to Larkhill in Wiltshire with the battalion. They sailed to France on the 10th November 1915.

We don't know anything about Walter's time on the Western Front, but there is nothing to suggest he ever left the 21st Battalion.

The battalion spent the early months of 1916 around Mametz near Fricourt. Walter and his comrades took their turn in the front line and took part in raids on the German trenches. During June the battalion began training to take part in the Somme Offensive, which was scheduled to begin on the 1st July.

The 21st Battalion attacked Mametz on the 1st July. They continued to play a part in the fighting on the Somme until the offensive ended in November 1916. They then fought at the Battle of Arras in April 1917 and the Passchendaele Offensive around Ypres in Belgium during the autumn of that year.

Walter's war changed in November 1917. The 21st Battalion was one of a number of British units sent to Italy to help the Italian Army in its fight against Austria-Hungary. They served on the River Piave and the Asiago Plateau until September 1918. This was a much quieter time for the battalion.

In France the Allies had begun an offensive against the Germans on the 8th August. It was very successful and the Allies began advancing rapidly. Several British units were returned to France to take part in what would become known as the Hundred Days Offensive; the 21st Battalion was one of them. They arrived in France in mid-September and first entered combat early the next month.

The battalion took part in the British advance in Picardy, and by the end of the war on the 11th November they had reached the Forest of Mormal.

Walter survived the war, and will have been demobilised out of the Army shortly after it ended. The rest of his life remains a mystery.

Walter's medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in November 1994.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
Heritage Wharf
Ashton-under-Lyne
OL7 0QA

Telephone: 0161 343 2878
Email: Portland.Basin@tameside.gov.uk
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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council