Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Walter Whyatt

Walter Whyatt :

Walter Whyatt : (L to R) 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal; 1939-45 Defence Medal

(L to R) 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal; 1939-45 Defence Medal

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

In early 1914 Walter joined the 7th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. This was a unit of the Territorial Force based at Burlington Street in Manchester. He kept his civilian home and job and trained as a soldier during evenings and weekends. There was also an annual training camp, lasting around 2 weeks. He was given the service number 2084.

The First World War broke out in early August 1914 and the 7th Battalion was called into service. On the 10th September it set sail for Egypt. Half of B Company did not land in Egypt and were sent to Cyprus; the rest of the battalion was sent to Khartoum in Sudan.

We don't know whether Walter sailed with the battalion in September. He had definitely joined them by the 6th May 1915 when they went to war in Gallipoli.

The renamed 1/7th Battalion took part in heavy fighting during June, July and August. The rest of the year was quieter, but still dangerous. We don't know whether Walter was able to avoid injury or illness.

The 1/7th Battalion left Gallipoli on the 21st January 1916 and returned to Egypt. They moved into the Sinai Desert and began preparing defences to protect the Suez Canal against a Turkish attack.

In March 1917 Walter and the 1/7th Battalion were sent to the Western Front in France and Belgium. At around the same time soldiers serving in Territorial units were given new service numbers. The 7th Battalion was allocated the range 275001 to 300000. Walter's became 275613.

The 1/7th Battalion fought at Havrincourt during April 1917 before moving north to take part in the Passchendaele Offensive around the Belgian city of Ypres (now Ieper). The battalion also fought at Nieuport (now Nieuwpoort) on the Channel coast. In November they returned to France and by the end of the year they were stationed near Givenchy.

On the 21st March 1918 the Germans launched a major offensive aimed at defeating the Allies before large number of American soldiers could enter the war against them. The 1/7th Battalion did their best to slow down the attack as they retreated through Bucquoy and Gommecourt. They were relieved in early April.

By the summer of 1918 the Allies had defeated the German offensive. On the 8th August they began their own attack. This would become known as the Hundred Days Offensive and it led to the end of the war in November 1918.

The 1/7th Battalion continued to advance until the end of the war. Walter was demobilised and returned home a few weeks later, on the 3rd February 1919.

The rest of Walter's life remains a mystery. During the Second World War he served in a unit that took part in the defence of Britain against attack. We don't know which unit; it could have been the Home Guard, Air Raid Precautions, the National Fire Service or one of many others. This service was recognised by the award of the 1939-45 Defence Medal.

Walter's medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in late 1971.

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
Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund logo
Tameside Metropolitan Borough logo
Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund logo
Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council