Private (Rifleman) Walter LIMER

West Yorkshire Regiment
8th Battalion
Service Number:
Date of Death:
7 November 1918 - Accidentally killed
Cemetery / Memorial:
Cemetery Reference:
III. B. 4.

Personal History:

Walter was born in April/May 1885 at Priestcliffe Ditch, Taddington, Derbyshire, the son of John (Stone Getter) and Mary Limer. In 1891 they were living at Taddington Derbyshire, (Census RG 12/2774) and Walter had two older brothers, John T. and Luke W. There is no apparent record of Walter in 1901.

In the September quarter 1904 Walter married Zelinda Robinson in Chelmorten, Derbyshire and in 1911 (Census RG 14/21242) he was living with her parents at 20 Bennett Street, Buxton, with their son, Walter William. Zelinda was employed as a "Chamber Maid", living at the Haddon Hall Hydro, London Road, Buxton. Another child, Zelinda Catherine Dorothy, was born in 1915.
[See: Footnote below.]

At some time they moved to Sheffield where Walter worked at Vickers Steelworks. The family were living at Alcester Road, Sheffield. When Walter enlisted the family moved back to 21 South Avenue, Buxton. At that time he was 5 ft. 5 ins. (1.67 m.) tall and weighed 9 st. 3 lbs. (58.5 kgs.). He had black hair, a 'fresh' complexion and grey eyes.

After Walter's death, but not until 2nd June 1919, Zelinda received a pension of 1. 5 s. 0 d. (1.25) per week for herself and the two children.

Military History:
Walter enlisted into the West Yorkshire Regiment on the 10th December 1915 at York. He spent the first nearly 2 years on the Army Reserve list, until the 29th May 1918. Walter was posted to the 4th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment on the 1st June 1918, before joining the British Expeditionary Force with the 8th Battalion in France on September 29th. He was to last just 40 days before being accidentally killed on the 7th November 1918 - just four days before the Armistice. In total he had served 2 years 334 days with the Colours.

The Battalion War Diary for the day Walter died (7th November) reads: "Owing to the heavy mist, and the difficulties experienced in moving through thick woods, the first company lost direction, this somewhat delayed the advance. The second company however pushed on and established its line. The company detailed for the third objective (Road from O.12.c.5.6 to O.6.c.7.0.) encountered some opposition from M.G. fire on its left flank. However by a short burst of fire the garrison were cleared from the position, leaving behind them their gun and two killed. No further opposition was met with, and the line was consolidated on the 3rd objective."

This action was not, however, the cause of Walter's death. His Service papers give the details as:

"Above mentioned (Walter) was crossing in front of a Lewis gun which was being used by a squad in course of instruction. One live round S.A.A. was accidentally loaded in this gun, which on being fired, struck the soldier resulting in his death. Statements of witnesses attached." It was further deemed that: "Pte Limer accidentally killed on duty and not to blame.", but that ".. another person .." was to blame and disciplinary action should be taken. Later notes reveal that this person was 76049 Rfl Hewitson.

A fuller report was published some time later which stated: "I have seen the Officer in command of the Bde. Lewis Gun Class who informs me that no ammunition was in use at all and that only dummy ammunition was used. The latter was kept in the spare parts bag, and with a view to taking every precaution the contents were always examined by the Instructor before every lesson commenced. This from the evidence appears to have been done by Sjt. Jones, who has the reputation of being a capable and careful N.C.O.

No live ammunition was ever kept in the spare parts bag. It is impossible to say how the live round came to be inserted in the magazine and in my opinion blame for the accident cannot be put down to any individual."

The report was signed by Brig.-Gen Brigadier General Thomas Walter Brand (Lord Hampden), who had taken over command of 185th Brigade on the 29th August 1917. Despite this, however, on the 19th December 1918, it was decided to try 630693 Sgt. Jones (2/20 West London Regiment) and 76049 Pte. Hewitson (8/West Yorks) at a Field General Court Martial, charged with manslaughter with an alternative charge of negligence.

Walter was buried in Awoignt Cemetery which was begun in the latter half of October 1918 and used until the middle of December. By the 28th October, the 38th, 45th and 59th Casualty Clearing Stations were posted in the neighbourhood, and the great majority of the burials were made from those hospitals, which is no doubt where he was taken after he was killed.

Bearing in mind the date of Walter's death and the circumstances, he must rate as probably the unluckiest casualty on the Buxton Memorial.

· I am grateful to British War Graves for the photo of Walter's grave

· Walter's wife, Zelinda, was the older sister of Pt. 6551 George William ROBINSON, 3rd Battalion, Middlesex Regiment, who was killed in action
   on the 2nd May 1915 and also commemorated on the Buxton War Memorial.

Link to CWGC Record
Awoingt British Cemetery