WALTER JOHN BIRD 1890-1918
Walter John Bird was born in Ashcott in 1890 to Frederick James and Mary Ann Bird (nee Trebble). At the time of the 1901 Census, Walter was one of five children
Henry born about 1887
Georgina born about 1889
William Alfred born about 1896
Kate Annie born about 1898
Except for Henry who was born in Wembdon, all the children were born in Ashcott, but only Georgina was baptised in Ashcott on 28 November 1888 when her father’s occupation was ‘Inn-keeper’. In the 1891 census, Frederick was still an ‘Inn-keeper’ at the Pipers Inn in Ashcott. Walter enrolled at Ashcott School on 1 May 1894 when the family was still living at the Pipers Inn, but by 1901 the family had moved to Berhill and Frederick was now an ‘agricultural labourer’. Later that year Walter’s mother died.
In September 1902 aged 12, Walter left Ashcott School to go to Bristol ‘to work’.
Walter enlisted in the Army Service Corps at Aldershot on 3rdSeptember 1914, giving as his occupation ‘butcher’ working for a Mr Catt of Langport. His Service Number was 29621. Walter was attached to the Middlesex Regiment and the Headquarters of the 5thDivision, Army Service Corps. In September 1918 Walter was serving with the 1stBattalion, Border Regiment.
On 28 September 1918 the Regiment attacked on what was the opening day of the Fourth Battle of Ypres. By 2 October the Allies had advanced 18 miles at a cost of 4,500 casualties. Walter died on the first day of the Battle and is commemorated at the Hoodge Crater Cemetery near Ieper, Belgium. There are 5,923 servicemen buried or commemorated in the Cemetery. Only 2,344 are identified casualties.
Walter was 28 years old and single.
At the time of his death his father, now a widower, was living at 9, St Pauls Rd, Newton Abbot, Devon. By 1919 his father had moved to Catcott.
Walter was awarded the British War Medal, the Victory Medal, and the Silver Star Badge.
Attachments –Commonwealth War Graves Commission Casualty Details
Commonwealth War Graves Commission Certificate
Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery Details
References – Short Service Enlistment Attestation
World War 1 Medal Card
The research into Walter Bird was greatly helped by information supplied by the Cumbria Military Museum in Carlisle. This included extracts from the Border Regiment history and the Regiment’s War Diaries for the period of the Fourth Battle of Ypres. The complete set of records provided is available in the working documents file.
In Memory of
Private W J BIRD
29621, 1st Bn., Border Regiment
on 28 September 1918
Remembered with honour
HOOGE CRATER CEMETERY
Cemetery: HOOGE CRATER CEMETERY
Locality: Ieper, West-Vlaanderen
Location Information: Hooge Crater Cemetery is 4 Kms east of Ieper town centre on the Meenseweg (N8), connecting Ieper to Menen.
Historical Information: Hooge Chateau and its stables were the scene of very fierce fighting throughout the First World War. On 31 October 1914, the staff of the 1st and 2nd Divisions were wiped out when the chateau was shelled; from 24 May to 3 June 1915, the chateau was defended against German attacks and in July 1915, the crater was made by a mine sprung by the 3rd Division. On 30 July, the Germans took the chateau, and on 9 August, it and the crater were regained by the 6th Division. The Germans retook Hooge on 6 June 1916 and on 31 July 1917, the 8th Division advanced 1.6 Kms beyond it. It was lost for the last time in April 1918, but regained by the 9th (Scottish) and 29th Divisions on 28 September. Hooge Crater Cemetery was begun by the 7th Division Burial Officer early in October 1917. It contained originally 76 graves, in Rows A to D of Plot I, but was greatly increased after the Armistice when graves were brought in from the battlefields of Zillebeke, Zantvoorde and Gheluvelt and the following smaller cemeteries:- BASS WOOD CEMETERIES No.1 and No.2, ZILLEBEKE, on the East side of the Bassevillebeek, 1 Km South of Herenthage Chateau. They contained the graves of 48 soldiers from the United Kingdom who fell in December, 1917-March, 1918. KOELENBERG GERMAN CEMETERIES, GHELUWE, close together on the South side of the Menin Road, in which were buried ten soldiers from the United Kingdom. K.O.S.B. CEMETERY, GHELUWE, on the Menin Road, 1 Km West of Gheluwe. Here were buried, after the capture of Gheluwe by the 34th Division, in October, 1918, 18 soldiers from the United Kingdom, of whom ten belonged to the 1st/5th K.O.S.B. LA CHAPELLE FARM, ZILLEBEKE, between Chester Farm and Blauwepoort Farm, where 17 soldiers from the United Kingdom were buried in February and March, 1915. MENIN ROAD PILLBOX CEMETERY, ZILLEBEKE, between Herenthage Chateau and Gheluvelt, where 20 soldiers from the United Kingdom were buried in October, 1917. NIEUWE KRUISEECKE CABARET CEMETERY, GHELUVELT, on the South side of the Menin Road, where 21 soldiers from the United Kingdom and one from Canada were buried in October, 1918. PILLBOX CEMETERY, ZONNEBEKE, 500 metres North-East of Westhoek, which was used in October, 1917; there were buried in it 34 soldiers from Australia, 26 from the United Kingdom, two from Canada and one of the British West Indies Regiment. SANCTUARY WOOD OLD BRITISH CEMETERY, ZILLEBEKE, within the wood and North-East of the present cemetery; there were buried in it, in 1915-1917, 50 soldiers from the United Kingdom (of whom 30 were unidentified) and four from Canada. TOWER HAMLETS CEMETERY, GHELUVELT, between Gheluvelt and Bass Wood, on the West side of a row of “pillboxes” called Tower Hamlets; it contained the graves of 36 soldiers from the United Kingdom who fell in the winter of 1917-1918. WESTHOEK RIDGE SMALL CEMETERY, ZONNEBEKE, in Westhoek village, “near the Area Commandant’s pillbox and the A.D.S.”; it was used in the autumn of 1917, and it contained the graves of 16 soldiers from Australia and six from the United Kingdom. There are now 5,923 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 3,579 of the burials are unidentified, but special memorials record the names of a number of casualties either known or believed to be buried among them, or whose graves in other cemeteries were destroyed by shell fire. The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.
No. of Identified Casualties: 2344