Private 7141 Walter Gregory
Walter Gregory was born about 1883 to Charles and Sarah Anne Gregory of Gosling Street, Leicester. He was the fourth of six children. His father was a coach painter. In the 1891 census his older sisters are listed as fancy box makers. On 26 September 1900 Walter enlisted in the Royal Scots (Lothian) Regiment by which time the family had moved to Dover Street, Leicester. Although only 17 when he enlisted, at 5’4” tall with fair hair and grey eyes, he was well built, he gave his age as 18. He had been working as a shoe riveter and he stated has religion as Wesleyan.
Walter served for seven years as a regular soldier during which time he saw service in South Africa and India. In 1907 he moved to Oadby and began five years in the Reserves whilst working as a coach painter’s labourer, possibly for the same firm as his father. He married Lizzie Ward in 1908. His son James remembers him as a soldier through and through who would not step into the street without a waxed moustache and polished shoes. No doubt his military bearing was apparent too. At the outbreak of war the family, now with James 5 years, Margaret 3 years and baby Hilda were living at 5 Cross Street, Oadby.
Walter’s “Soldier’s Small Book” carried by each soldier and recording personal details.
On 4 August 1914 Walter was recalled to his regiment. He disembarked in France with further replacements on 28 August and arrived as a part of a second reinforcement with 92 other men and one officer on the evening of 7 September. Following the Battle of the Marne the Germans were in full retreat pursued by British and French forces.
The Germans turned and made a stand at the Battle of the Aisne.
2nd Battalion Royal Scots’ War Diary entry for 13 September 1914
Walter’s Casualty Form reports him as missing on the 13 September with a later entry which states he probably died on or about the 13 September. It was not until June 1916 that his family received official confirmation of his death.
Confirmation of Death letter received by Lizzie Gregory
Walter was awarded the Victory and British War Medals and the 1914 Star.
He was 31 years old and the first serviceman from Oadby to give his life in the Great War.
It is probable that Walter was initially buried in Mesgrigny French Military Cemetery (Aube), which contained the graves of ten British soldiers, or more likely Nogent L’Artaud Communal Cemetery (Aisne) where one British soldier was buried in September 1914. Walter’s final resting place is in Bouilly Crossroads Cemetery, close to the town of Reims in Northern France, which was started in 1918.
Bouilly Cross Roads Military Cemetery
We are grateful to Mrs. Lynn Mellor for information about her grandfather and the use of family memorabilia