Private Walter Markham
32967 6th Bn.,Leicestershire Regiment who died on 3 May 1917.
Walter Markham was born in 1876 to Richard and Matilda (nee Ludlum) Markham. He had four brothers and four sisters. Their mother, Matilda died in 1884 and in 1887 Richard remarried Mary Ann James who gave him a daughter, Laura. In 1905 Walter married Millicent Elliot and by 1911 the couple were living at Church Street, Oadby and Walter worked as a boot clicker.
Walter was a member of the Oadby Adult School and his wife’s family were members of the Oadby Baptist Church.
Men of the Oadby Adult School C1900
Walter and Milicent Markham’s home was on Church St, Oadby see here on the left foreground.
Walter’s service record is no longer available but his service number suggests that he was not an early recruit.
As a married man of 40 he may not actually have joined up until he was formally conscripted after May 1916. Walter joined the 6th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment. This along with the 7th, 8th and 9th Leicesters was a ‘Service’ (volunteer) battalion of Kitchener’s New Army. Together they formed the 110th Leicester Brigade.
The 6th Leicesters spent the sub-zero, freezing winter of 1916/17 on the Franco Belgian border and then in trenches around Loos, bombarded by German ‘rum jar’ trench mortars. In February 1917 the enemy withdrew up to twenty kilometres to the formidable Hindenburg Line. As part of the 110th Brigade, 21st Division, the 6th Leicesters were ordered to follow up.
On 29 March the 110th Leicester Brigade moved by motor buses, requisitioned from the London Omnibus Company, into the area around Monchy-au-Bois. From there they moved on foot towards the Hindenburg Line, through a ‘scorched earth’ landscape, systematically destroyed and booby trapped by the Germans in their withdrawal.
Troops boarding a ‘Battle Bus’ in 1917
A road blocked by German troops as they withdrew to the Hindenburg Line.
On 3 May 1916 the 8th and 9th Leicesters, with the 6th and 7th Leicesters in reserve support advanced on Fontaine-les-Croisilles. This attack was part of the wider Battle of Bullecourt, a major assault on the Hindenburg Line involving ten Divisions. The 6th Battalion attacked Fontaine Wood in order to support the left flank of the advancing troops. Its objective was to consolidate and hold the defensive flank covering the north and west of Fontaine Wood. Attempts to capture the German held trenches were unsuccessful with the troops being held up by German machine gun fire. 24 men from the 6th Battalion were killed in the action including Private Walter Markham.
Map showing the positions relevant to the action in which Private Walter Markham was killed.
Private Walter Markham has no known grave but is Remembered with Honour on the Arras Memorial. He is also honoured on the Oadby War Memorial and on the Memorial Tablet in Oadby Baptist Church along with 14 other men of the Oadby Adult School.
The Arras Memorial
Memorial tablet in Oadby Baptist Church
Walter Markham’s younger brothers Herbert and William joined the Leicestershire Regiment, enlisting in 1916 and 1915 respectively. They both survived the war.