Lance Corporal 11173 Benjamin Walker

Killed in Action on Saturday, 25th September 1915, age 23.
Commemorated on Panel 37 and 39 of Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

5th Bn., Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry. 42nd Brigade of 14th Division.

Born: Dudley Port, Enlisted: Birmingham, Resident: West Bromwich.

First landed France & Flanders, 20th May 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the St. Paul's, Golds Hill Memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/912551/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Benjamin Walker registered in December 1891 in Dudley.

1901 Census
93 Lower Church Lane, Tipton, Staffs.
Israel Walker (31, Canal Labourer, born Tipton), his wife Lois (28, born Oakengates, Shropshire), and their 4 children: May (11, born Tipton), Benjamin (11, born Tipton), James (7, born Tipton) and Gertrude (2, born Tipton).

1911 Census
67 Ebenezer Street, West Bromwich, Staffs.
Israel Walker (42, Shingler at Ironworks, born West Bromwich), his second wife (of 1 year) Caroline (40, born West Bromwich). Israel’s 6 children: Benjamin (20, Roller in Sheet Iron Mills, born West Bromwich), James (17, Labourer at Spring & Axle Works, born West Bromwich), Gertie (13, born West Bromwich), Israel (10, born West Bromwich), Edith (8, born West Bromwich) and Harold (5, born West Bromwich). Caroline’s 3 children: James Nuttall (17, Holloware Bobber, born West Bromwich), Richard Nuttall (14, Horse Cartman at Holloware Foundry, born West Bromwich) and Samuel Nuttall (6, born West Bromwich).

Personal Data

After Benjamin’s death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £5/5/5d (5 pounds, 5 shillings and 5 pence); this was paid to Miss Elsie Horton in February 1916. His War Gratuity was £3/10/0d (3 pounds and 10 shillings), this was also paid to Miss Elsie Horton, in September 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Benjamin had enlisted in approximately September 1914. Miss Elsie Horton was Benjamin’s sole legatee, so it is possible that Elsie was his sweetheart.

Benjamin’s father, Israel Walker, applied for a Dependant’s Pension in June 1924; his address at that time was 63 Dial Lane, West Bromwich. This was refused, and refused again in September 1924. The Pension Card is not clear but it would seem that a pension was subsequently awarded as there are entries on the Card until 1930.

Action resulting in his death

On 25th September 1915 the Battle for Loos began in French Flanders. Three feint attacks were made in the hope of distracting the enemy, preventing troop transfers, and possibly gaining more ground than expected. The 7th (Meerut) Division of the Indian Corps attacked at Pietre, 8th Division attacked at Bois Grenier, and the 14th Division – including the 5th Oxford & Buckingham Light Infantry (5/OBLI) - at Bellewaarde Ridge at Hooge, near Ypres.

5/OBLI were midway between Railway Wood and Y Wood, facing east towards Bellewaarde Farm. On their left flank was the 9th Rifle Brigade, and on their right flank the 5th King’s Shropshire Light Infantry (5/KSLI).

At Zero Hour, 04.20am, two pairs of mines were exploded under the German positions north of Hooge. The mine at Railway Wood was just to the left of 5/OBLI, and was an early objective of the 9th Rifle Brigade.

5/OBLI advanced at 04.20am. Their right section got into the German 2nd Line linking up with 5/KSLI, but they did not got into the ruins of Bellewaarde Farm. The men of the left section were either dead or wounded in "No Man's Land”, having been caught by heavy fire, and leaving a large gap to the 9th Rifle Brigade on their left flank.

This gap to the 9th Rifle Brigade was costly as uncleared German machine guns in this area (Point 24) resulted in many deaths. As well as this set back, problems were encountered with consolidating the captured German trenches, and with high casualties amongst the bombers.

The situation after the capture of the German trenches became unclear, communication had been lost early in the attack. By the time runners had got to Brigade to say they had captured the 2nd Line, the Germans were counter-attacking.

German bombers worked well and made it impossible for the 9th Rifle Brigade, 5/OBLI and 5/KSLI to stay in the captured line. By about 8.15 a.m. the forward troops had retired back to their starting lines. At the end of the day the only gain still held was one of the craters at Hooge.

The 5th Ox. & Bucks. had a staggering 178 men killed in action on the day, in what was just a side-show to the main event at Loos. Benjamin Walker has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate in Ypres.

Newspaper Cuttings