Private Walter SKIDMORE


Regiment/Service:
Royal Fusiliers
(Formerly: 3rd Reserve Cavalry Regiment)
Secondary Regiment:
London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers)
Unit:
posted to 2nd/2nd Battalion
Service Number:
71075
(Formerly: 33772 3rd Reserve Cavalry
Regiment)
Date of Death:
26 October 1917 - Killed in Action
Age:
21
Cemetery / Memorial:
Memorial Reference:
Panel 30

Personal History:
Walter was born in the June quarter 1896, the son of Joseph (Cab driver) and Louisa Mary (née Nixon) Skidmore. In 1901 (Census RG 13/3269) the family were living at 21 New Market Street, Buxton and Walter had an older brother, Sidney S., and a younger sister, May.

By 1911 (Census RG 14/21242) Walter had two more younger sisters, Mabel and Louisa E., and was working as an "Errand Boy". 
Walter grew up just a few houses from another of Buxton War dead. George Sheldon and Walter joined up on the same day - their original Service Numbers are nearly adjacent. They transferred to the Royal Fusiliers on the same day, having adjacent Numbers again, and were killed in action on the same day. [See Footnote below.]

In both cases it took almost a year after they died to confirm their deaths. When reporting George Sheldon's death, "The Buxton Advertiser" of the 26th October 1918 gave the tragic additional news that George had only been in France three weeks when he went missing in action. It must follow then that Walter had only been in action for the same amount of time.

Three weeks earlier when "The Buxton Advertiser" reported Walter's death on the 5th October 1918, said that: " ... his mother and father, needless to say, are overwhelmed with grief at the loss of so promising a son."

Military History:
According to the SDGW database Walter originally enlisted in the 3rd Reserve Cavalry Regiment in Bakewell, presumably for "The Duration of The War", but unfortunately his Service Papers have not survived so his enlistment date cannot be found. Men who enlisted into the cavalry, either as volunteers or conscripts, served with the cavalry reserve to carry out their basic training. Many were not, however, posted to a cavalry regiment overseas but were converted into infantry or other corps before being sent there. It is rare to see a cavalry reserve unit being mentioned in a man's medal records, even if the man had trained with them.

The 3rd Reserve Cavalry Regiment had been one of 14 formed in 1914, and was absorbed into the 6th Reserve Regiment in early 1917. "The Buxton Advertiser" of the 26th October 1918, quoted above, indicates that George Sheldon was posted to France just three weeks before he died - suggesting the first week of October 1917. Walter clearly entered the War at the same time.

The original 2/2nd Battalion had been disbanded in 1916 and the 3/2nd renamed as a new 2/2nd. This Battalion landed at Le Havre on the 22nd January 1917. Walter's Service number - 71075 - suggests that his transfer took place in May 1917. (For example, a soldier with No. 71080 transferred on the 14th May 1917.) This date is supported by "The Buxton Advertiser", which stated that George, and therefore Walter: "... had been in training since April 1917."

Walter was killed on the first day of the Second Battle of Passchendaele (26th October - 10th November 1917). The Official History gives the following account of the Battalion's action:

"On October 25th a strong west wind somewhat dried the surface of the ground and the night was fine. The stars shone out with the sharpened clarity of a frosty atmosphere. Another small attack was planned for the 26th; and the 2nd line battalions of the London Regiment took up their positions with the 58th Division, below the Poelcapelle-Spriet road.

The 2/2 Londons, attacking at 5.40 a.m., reached Cameron House - about 250 yards below the Poelcapelle-Spriet road - at 7.15 a.m. A Company under Captain Harper cleared three of the four "pill-boxes" at this point and sent back 17 prisoners. D Company, in command of Second Lieutenant J. P. Howie at 6.30 a.m. reached a "pill-box" about 200 yards above the Lekkerboterbeek and stormed it, capturing 32 prisoners ; and three-quarters of an hour later had to repel hostile counter-attacks directed against this point and Cameron House.

'A' Company, finding their flank uncovered by the retirement of the unit on their left, were compelled to withdraw ; but 'D' clung to the mebus they had captured until the end of the day. Moray House, lying about 550 yards due east of this "pill-box," held up C Company all the day. The casualties were 11 officers (3 killed) and 386 other ranks."


                             

The CWGC records show that virtually all of the Royal Fusiliers who were killed on the 26th October have no known grave and are commemorated, along with Walter, on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

Footnote:
· As outlined above, Pt. 71074 George Edward SHELDON enlisted on the same day (adjacent Service Numbers) and in the same Battalion
  as Walter and was killed in action alongside him on the same day. Their names appear together on the Tyne Cot Memorial.
Sources:
· "The Buxton Advertiser" 5 October 1918
· "The Royal Fusiliers in The Great War", Herbert Charles O'Neill, published 1922, p. 199 - 201

Link to CWGC Record
The Tyne Cott Memorial
Arthur's name on the Memorial
poppy
Pt Walter Skidmore
Buxton Advertiser logo
Walter and George were the subject of an article in the Buxton Advertiser in November 2012 - written by the site author

CLICK logo to read
.... about the Second Battle of Passchendaele