Serjeant 31242 Walter Grainger

Grainger Walter 96 445x600

Died of Wounds on Friday, 8th February 1918, age 21.
Buried in Grave X. A. II. at Rocquigny-Equancourt Road British Cemetery, Manancourt, Somme, France.

7th Bn., South Lancashire Regiment. 56th Brigade of 19th Division.
Formerly 9663 7th Bn. South Staffs Regiment.

Son of Mr Edward Grainger, of 225 Dudley Port, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Wolverhampton, Resident: Tipton.

First landed Balkans, 12th September 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives survived and transcribed.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/243830/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Walter Grainger registered December quarter 1896 in Dudley.

1901 Census
7 Sheepwash Lane, Tipton, Staffs.
Edward Grainger (43, Journeyman Butcher, born West Bromwich), his wife Martha (41, born West Bromwich), and their 4 children: James (18, Iron Worker, born West Bromwich), Jane (10, born Tipton), Walter (4, born Tipton), Nellie (2, born Tipton).

1911 Census
23 Providence Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Edward Grainger (52, Butcher - Out of Work, born Pelsall), his wife Martha (51, born West Bromwich), and 6 of their 9 surviving children of 12: Jane B. (19, born Tipton), Walter (14, Rivet Heater at Bridge and Girder Works, born Tipton), Nellie (12, School, born Tipton), Edward (8, born Tipton), Joe (3, born Tipton), and James (1, born Tipton).

Personal Data

Walter Grainger attested for 6 years as a Special Reservist with the South Staffordshire regiment on 7th August 1914. This was a form of part-time soldiering which began with 6 months full-time training. It carried the obligation that you would be called up in the event of general mobilisation which guaranteed that Walter would see active service. Initially posted to the Depot battalion, he was posted to the 3rd (Special Reserve) battalion on the 12th August.

At attestation, Walter was 17 years and 255 days of age, weighed 115 pounds, was 5 feet 4⅞ inches tall with a 35-inch chest. He had blue eyes, brown hair, perfect vision and his physical development was noted as ‘good’. He was employed as a Rivetter’s Knocker, and his religion was Church of England.

After his initial training, on 23rd August 1915 Walter was posted to the 7th South Staffs (7/SS) and embarked to join them in Gallipoli. By the time Walter joined the 7/SS most of the hard fighting had ended, but conditions were very poor, and disease was rampant. The 7/SS evacuated from Gallipoli in December 1915, bound for Egypt via Imbros.

Walter had contracted typhoid whilst in Gallipoli and on 10th January 1916 arrived at the 18th Stationary Hospital in Mudros. This must have been a serious case as Walter was then transported on the Hospital Ship “Grantully Castle” to Malta, and to the Enteric Fever Military Hospital at Imtarfra, arriving on 21st January 1916. After almost 2 months here, Walter was transferred on the Hospital Ship “Asturias” back to England on 13th March 1916.

Back in England, Walter was in hospital from 23rd March until 30th June at: 1st Southern General Hospital in Kings Heath, Birmingham, then Addington Park War Hospital, and finally the Enteric Depot at Woldingham, Surrey. Whilst at Woldingham, he was charged with “When on active service absent from 6.30pm parade 12-6-16 until found in bed at 6.30am 13-6-16 (12 hours).” For this relatively minor offence, he was sentenced to 3 days Confined to Barracks and the forfeit of 2 days’ pay.

After discharge from hospital it seems that Walter was posted back to the 3rd (Special Reserves) South Staffs in order to regain fitness. On the 23rd August 1916 whilst at Backworth, Tyne & Wear with the 3rd South Staffs, he was charged with “Overstaying his pass from tattoo until tattoo on 28th August (5 days)” He was sentenced to the forfeit of 7 days’ pay.

This offence was possibly because he knew that he was about to go overseas again. On 5th August 1916, Walter left Folkestone and landed in Boulogne. He did not re-join the South Staffs but instead was transferred to the 7th Battalion, South Lancashire (7/SL) joining them on 22nd August and serving in ‘B’ Company. His papers show that he was a ‘Signaller/Bomber.

Walter seemed to thrive in the 7/SL, he was promoted to Lance Corporal on 1st October 1916, to Corporal on 12th February 1917, and finally to Sergeant on 14th October 1917. This was only marred by a charge on 2nd May 1917 (when Corporal) “when on active service, irregular conduct ie late and being improperly dressed on staff parade.” For this offence he just received a Reprimand.

On 29th January 1918, Walter received a bullet wound which lead to his death 10 days later on 8th February 1918.

After Walter's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £15/3/0d (15 pounds and 3 shillings); this was paid to his mother and sole legatee, Martha, in June 1918. His War Gratuity was £19/0/0d (19 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his mother in November 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Walter had enlisted in August 1914.

Action resulting in his death

The 7th South Lancs passed the winter of 1917 near Cambrai, the actions of the Battle of Cambrai of November and December having subsided. No great actions took place in this period, but the bitter weather conditions caused much sickness throughout the Division.

On 28th January 1918 the 7th South Lancs relieved the 9th Royal Welsh Fusiliers in the front line at Bois Couillet, south of Marcoing, itself about 7 miles south-west of Cambrai. They reported that the trenches seemed drier than on their previous occupation.

The War Diary for the 29th January reports: “The enemy seems to be considerably more active than previously with Machine Guns and Snipers opposite on right flank.” There was no mention of casualties, but Walter Grainger received a bullet wound to the shoulder; this was just the usual daily attrition which was a constant background to trench life.

Walter was admitted to 59 Field Ambulance, and two days later, on 31st January, he was admitted to No. 21 Casualty Clearing Station at Ytres. He died from his wounds on 8th February 1918.

Walter Grainger is buried at Rocquigy-Equancourt Road Cemetery, Manancourt, 10 miles south west of Cambrai. This cemetery was used mainly by the 21st and 48th Casualty Clearing Stations posted at Ytres.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald 2nd March 1918
Corporal Walter Grainger, South Lancashire Regiment, died of wounds at a Casualty Clearing Station on February 8th. He was the son of Mr Edward Grainger, 225 Dudley Port, Tipton. Corporal Grainger was a single man, aged 21. He enlisted in August 1914, and before the war worked at Horseley Co., Tipton.