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Walter Earnshaw

Date of birth: 10.4.1913
Date of death: 12.5.1944
Area: Kirkhamgate
Regiment: Royal Fusiliers
Family information: Husband of Jane Earnshaw nee Oates
Rank: Fusilier
Service number: 14546062

War Service

Walter joined the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) 1st Battalion, Number 14546062. He joined the Battalion in early 1943, taking part in the African campaigns before arriving in Italy on 24th September 1943. The Battalion took part in the Battle of Monte Cassino from 17th January 1944. This battle actually consisted of four assaults with the aim of breaking through to Rome and it was during the fourth battle on 12th May that Walter gave his life – 6 days before the Allies won the battle. The assault on Cassino opened at 11pm on 11th May with a huge artillery bombardment, followed by the attack by the army including Walter’s Battalion. The battle continued until 18th May when a group of Polish cavalrymen finally reached the top of Monte Cassino to find only a handful of injured Germans who had been unable to flee. The success had come at great cost though with Walter being amongst 55,000 Allied casualties. Rome was eventually captured on 5th June 1944.
The Ossett Observer printed an obituary to Walter on 3rd June 1944:
“Killed in Central Mediterranean – Fusilier Walter Earnshaw, Gawthorpe – Mrs Jane Earnshaw of 95, Ake’s Yard, Gawthorpe, has received a communication from the War Office stating that her husband, Fusilier Walter Earnshaw (31), has been killed in action whilst serving in the Central Mediterranean theatre of war.
Fusilier Earnshaw, who was a native of Kirkhamgate and attended the council school, was employed as a dyer by Wilson Bros, Chickenley. He joined up 15 months ago and went to North Africa last September and subsequently to Italy. He leaves a widow and four children with whom deepest sympathy is felt”.
Walter is buried in the Cassino War Cemetery.

Family Life

Walter was born in Dewsbury district on 10th April 1913. His parents were William Henry Earnshaw and Ellen Maria Earnshaw nee Rigg. His parents left Dewsbury and moved to Wakefield where Walter’s siblings Ronald (b 1919), Joan (b 1922), Mary (b 1925), Betty (b 1927) and Irene (b 1929) were born.
In 1936 Walter married Jane Oates and moved to Ossett. They had four sons Barry (b 1936), Malcolm (b 1938), Ronald (b 1940) and George (b 1942). In the 1939 Register the family were living at 36, High Street, Gawthorpe, where Walter was working as a mechanical coal cutter. Walter’s parents were living at 206, Batley Road, Kirkhamgate with his dad volunteering as an ARP warden.

Photo of Cassino War Cemetery. Rows of white headstones surrounding a cross memorial. Cassino War Cemetery

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