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Walter Wales

Date of birth: 1892
Date of death: 1968
Area: Brotherton
Regiment: Royal Navy
Family information: Husband of Maud nee Harrison
Rank: Stoker Class 1

War Service

Walter joined the Royal Navy during WW1 and his record has been located. However, it contains just a single sheet and does not give any indication of when or where he signed up.
A good physical description is given - he was 5’4 ½ “ tall. Had a chest measurement of 35 ½ “, brown hair, hazel eyes and a fair complexion. He was also said to have a ‘small naevoid mark below the left lower eye lid’. Such a mark is described as ‘any congenital growth or pigmented blemish on the skin; birthmark or mole ‘.
Although some of the detail is hardly legible the following has been taken from the record.
Victory 12/7/1918 - same date is given for ‘hostilities’.
In the photograph reproduced here the name HMS Victory can be clearly seen.
Although this is the name of Nelson’s flagship it was also the name of Portsmouth barracks from 1840 – 1974.
It was to HMS Victory that naval ratings were sent whilst awaiting a sea going ship, or to attend a specialist course or for discharge to shore. One didn't normally spend very long in a place like that unless they were drafted into a permanent billet such as cooks, stewards and writers etc. Walter would not have been one of these as he was described as a ‘Stoker Class 2’.
This was often the occasion when men sometimes had a little spare time at weekends and took the opportunity to visit a photographer's studio in Portsmouth or if it was in the Summer perhaps they had a picture taken on Southsea Promenade (sea front) so that they could send pictures to loved one's etc as there was often little opportunity once one joined a sea going vessel.
HMS Victory II – 20/9/1918 – 26/11/1918
Stoker Class 1
Victory II was the Crystal Palace/Sydenham training depot for the Royal Naval Division from 1914.
HMS Hecla - 27/11/1918 – 17/1/1919
Stoker Class 1
HMS Hecla, (ex-"British Crown") launched 1878, 6,400 tons, 4-12 pdr guns. Originally torpedo depot ship and played important role in developing British torpedo forces she became a Destroyer Depot ship and had been on station in 1917 up to Dec 1918 as Depot Ship for the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla. She then left and returned to Chatham.
Walter was demobolised on 21/1/1919.
Naval medals – only one medal, the War Medal, is shown as being awarded to Walter.
The British War Medal was authorized in 1919 to mark the end of the Great War. The Admiralty differed from the War Office in their allowance for qualification to the British War Medal. The Admiralty granted the issue of the British War Medal to all ranks who had completed 28 days' mobilised service between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918.
The War Office would only issue a British War Medal for UK Home Service in exceptional circumstances, such as the men killed in the German Battlecruiser bombardments on the East Coast in 1915. Normally, UK Home Service in the Army did not qualify. As a result of this 'kindness' on the part of the Admiralty, the Rolls were increased to a very large extent in listing those men entitled to the British War Medal only.
In effect, this means that Walter did see more than 28 days mobilised service before the ending of hostilities, although he may have been at sea for longer if the period after hostilities is taken into account, but not directly involved in action against the enemy.

Family Life

Walter was born in Brotherton on 31/8/1892 the son of Benjamin and Alice.
The Wales line can be traced back to the early 1700’s but it is not until later that they arrived in Brotherton.
Nicholas Wales (Walter’s great-great-great-great-grandfather) was born in Ledsham about 1733. It is not known who his wife was but his son William was born in 1756. He married Elizabeth Richardson in Ledsham in 1781.
Their son Isaac arrived in 1788 and in 1812 married Frances Lodge. Amongst their children was Benjamin (1st) who was born in Ledsham in 1821. The Brotherton connection seems to commence with his marriage in 1840 to Jane Lister who was born in the village about 1821. It would appear that he settled in the village as the couple show up in the 1841 census although as Walls.
In 1851 Ben appears absent and Jane is found in the home of her parents - John and Sarah Lister (nee Isles) - with children John (aged 6) and William (1).
By 1861 Ben and Jane were living in the High Street and he was employed as an ‘Ag(ricultural) Lab(ourer).’ Also in the household was William (11), Mary (6) and 82 year old widower Sarah Lister - Jane’s mother. John was not at home as he was living in Burton Salmon where he was employed as a ‘Carter’ by William Makin who was “farming 240 acres and employed a number of labourers and 3 boys”.
John Wales married Hannah Elizabeth Copeland, the daughter of William Copeland and Mary Ann (nee Pickering) in 1870. Later that year their son Benjamin (2nd) was born.
In 1871 John and Hannah were living in Low Street ‘near the railway’ with 7 month old Benjamin (2nd).
Benjamin (1st) died in Brotherton in 1876. By then John and family had actually left Brotherton probably as early as 1875 and were living in Colne Bridge, Dalton near Huddersfield where he was employed as an ‘Agricultural Labourer.’ Although there is no evidence to show a link it is curious that one of the major landowners in the Brotherton area was Sir John Ramsden Bart. And he also owned vast acreage in the Huddersfield area.
In 1881 the family consisting of John, Hannah Elizabeth, Benjamin (aged 10), Mary A (7), Frederick (5), Martha J (3) and Edith A (2) were living in Lees Fold, Dalton, the latter three having been born in Colne Bridge.
The next decade saw many changes in the family. Harry Coupland (Copeland) Wales was born in Dalton near Huddersfield in 1882 and Ethel May in nearby Deighton in 1884. Within the next few years John appears to have died as Hannah later marries Joseph Sharp. In 1889 they had a son called Stanley Marsden Sharp born in Bradley - another village on the edge of Huddersfield.
By the time of the 1891 Census they had moved yet again and were living in Huddersfield Road, Clifton near Hartshead. In the home were a number of the Wales children including Mary A, Fred, Martha, Edith, Harry and Ethel.
Benjamin (2nd) had moved back to Brotherton, was working as a ‘Coal Miner’ and living with his 69 year old grandmother Jane near to Brotherton Hall.
In 1892 Benjamin was to marry Alice Rhodes. Walter was born later in that year but was only 10 months old when his mother died in 1893.
Benjamin remarried in 1895 to Mary Catherine Smith (nee Bramham) herself a widow.
By 1901 Jane was 79 years old and living in Austerberry with her 6 year old grand daughter Hannah Sharp (daughter of Hannah E ). Jane died in 1907.
In 1901 the family were living in the National School House. Walter was an only child and by 1911 the family were living on Vicar’s Croft. It is likely, however, that this was still the School House as Vicar’s Croft and School Croft were almost adjacent. Walter was to occupy the house, probably with his parents, when he got married some years later. Walter was working as a ‘Pony Driver in Coal’ and his father was still mining as well. Also in the house was Mary’s brother John Frederick Bramham, unemployed and a married visitor called Edith Ann Towler.
The other family lines are worth a mention too.
The Listers were an old Brotherton family and can be traced back to the 1700’s and there are some gravestones in the Church Yard dedicated to members of the family. The same can be said for the Isles who married into the Listers.
Copelands were also present in the village in the mid 1700’s.
The Pickerings were an extensive family and the earliest date found was 1720. Being a large family they intermarried with many other familiar Brotherton names.
After the War - Although not a great deal of detail is known of Walter’s war years a fair amount is known of his time after leaving the Navy. Most of the information outlined below has been provided by his grand daughter Linda Burnett (nee Wales).
On 7th December 1916 Walter had married Maud Harrison at St Botolph’s Church, Knottingley. And their son Eric was born in 1917.
Walter returned to coal mining and became a ‘Colliery Deputy’. A deputy could be compared to a supervisor, he was responsible for an area of the pit underground. He would walk the roadways (tunnels to non mining folk) and crawl along the coal face where men were working. He would be supervising all aspects of health and safety and mostly stop and speak to the men on his area - often called a district. There would be a deputy on that district/area every shift and they would "hand over" to each other.
In 1921 daughter Margaret was born. The family were living in the cottage adjacent to the old National School building which, though still in use had been superceded by the new school further down the School Croft. It is likely that they shared the cottage with Walter’s parents. The cottage is still standing and the building, which was used as a parish hall for many years before being superceded yet again, has been the Delacy Motor Club since the 1960/70’s.
Walter bought land at the bottom of the school croft adjacent to the vicarage and had a house built on it. This was completed about 1924 and it is clearly shown on a 1919 ‘aerial’ photograph of the village.
At a later stage he sold some of the land in order that a school canteen could be built. In the 1950’s a further single storey classroom block was erected to cope with greater numbers of pupils.
Walter and Maud were amongst the first in the village to own a car and their grand daughter feels they were quite “well off” with Maud having “loads of fur coats which I used to play in and ripped the lining of her best mink. I got a proper good hiding”.
A photograph of Walter and Maud stood outside the house, probably late 1940’s or early 1950’s judging by the car, is reproduced. Also in the picture is a dog which was probably a red setter as they used to breed them.
Mary Catherine, Walter’s stepmother died in 1944.
Benjamin Wales passed away in 1958 at the age of about 88.
In the mid 1960’s Walter and Maud moved to Sittingbourne in Kent to live with daughter Margaret and husband who owned a pub.
Walter died in 1968, Maud followed in 1975, the deaths both being registered in Sittingborune.
Son Eric was a well known figure in the village becoming a coal merchant and using his wagon to help many villagers to ‘flit’. He joined the army during World War 2 and saw service in Egypt.

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