Saturday, October 04, 2014
Yesterday's photo of Walter is a postcard sent to his mother and dated April 25th 1916 (O. A. S. = On Active Service; B. E. F. = British Expeditionary Force).
I've collected old photographs and postcards for years and this one was a present from a friend. Digging through the archives usually turns up one or two nuggets of information but I've been lucky with Walter. I started with census records, searched for Walter plus his mother's surname (Gittens) and found him aged 6 on the 1901 census. On the 1911 census, Walter is 16 and living with his father (Robert), mother (Amy) and sister (Edith) at 31 William Street, Hampstead Road, London.
Then I checked the British Army Service Records 1914-1920 (National Archives) hoping his records hadn't been destroyed during WW2. This is a brief summary of what I found:
Private Walter Robert Gittens, born June 18th 1894, enlisted June 18th 1912, Oxford Street, London, regimental number 1487, 1/9 London Regiment. Later (don't know when) his regimental number changes to 390054.
Military Character: V. Good. Service Record:
Home 5.8.14 - 3.11.14
France 4.11.14 - 30.6.16 (promoted in the field to Lance Corporal 28.1.15, promoted in the field to Corporal 15.3.16)
Prisoner of War 1.7.16 - 25.4.18. GSW (gun shot wound) chest and right shoulder, lost left leg.
Home 26.4.18 - 19.7.18 (Queen Mary's Convalescent Home, Roehampton)
Discharged 19.7.18 No longer fit for War Service.
I still have to check Prisoner of War records to find out where he was held prisoner, but suspect the date indicates that he was captured on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
More information, hopefully, to come.
That's interesting. I did some local research for a friend on a local soldier who has a wargrave in the local cemetary - that threw up some fascinating facts too.
Posted by: Julie | Sunday, October 05, 2014 at 08:17 AM