Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

The Walker family had a long history in Portsmouth, going back at least to the 1841 census and probably much further. The earliest record currently available shows Joseph's grandfather George Walker with his wife Sarah (nee Lawrence) living at 25 Church Road with their eldest child. George was at the time listed as a draper; he must have been fairly successful as they could afford a live-in servant.
The family had moved to 19 Victoria Street, Buckland by 1861 where they stayed for 20 years as the family grew with the birth of 6 more children including Joseph Alexander in 1865. George's status seems to have slipped somewhat in the meantime as he was described in 1881 as an outfitter's assistant at the same time as Joseph is listed as a solicitor's clerk.
In 1888 Joseph Alexander married Kate Eliza and in October 1888 their first child, Kate Maud was born. They were then living at 26 St. John's Road. Joseph was by then a bank clerk but he must have been good at his job as within 10 years he had become a bank manager probably in Albert Road, Southsea as the family were living at No. 46.
Joseph Alexander Walker jnr. had been born in 1892 and was educated at St. Jude's School. He was plainly destined to follow in his father's footsteps as he too became a bank clerk, a position he held in 1911 when the family were living over Lloyd's Bank at 153 Albert Road, at the junction with Harold Road, though Joseph Jnr. worked at the North End Branch.
Joseph jnr. would have been 22 years old at the outbreak of the Great War but he didn't enlist until 9th December 1915 when he joined the 2/5 Battalion The Buffs (aka East Kent Regiment) with Regimental No 3698. He transferred to the London Regiment in Aug 1916 and by late Sept 1916 was on the Western Front. He was awarded the Military Medal on 28 July 1917 and was appointed Lance Corporal on 23 Nov 1917. Joseph was wounded in action by a gas shell on 4 Dec 1917 but appears to have rejoined his unit by Jan 1918.
He died "of wounds" on 6 April 1918 possibly at the 6th Stationary Hospital at St Hilaire as that was the nearest hospital to where he is buried. The actual cause of death is unknown though it seems likely that he was involved in military operations at Aveluy Wood, as suggested by the War Diary of the 1/24th Battalion London Regiment.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists Lance Corporal Joseph Alexander Walker, (723497), serving in the 24th Battalion, London Regiment, died 06/04/1918, aged 26. Buried at St. Hilaire Cemetery Extension, Frevent (Grave Ref: B.8.). Awarded the Military Medal. Son of Joseph Alexander Walker and Kate Eliza Walker, of 153, Albert Rd., Southsea, Portsmouth.
Joseph Walker is also remembered on the Cenotaph, Guildhall Square, the Memorial Cross outside St. Jude's Church, Southsea and on a personal memorial that was rescued from the Congregational Church on Victoria Road South and moved to the WW1 Remembrance Centre at Fort Widley.
Tim Backhouse
January 2014
With thanks to Paul Lane