Alfred Charles Walters was born in March 1900, one of six children to Alfred and Sarah Walters from Bridgwater, Somerset. Alfred Sr was a labour in a brickyard, and the family lived in the centre of the town.
When war broke out, Alfred seemed very eager to be involved. Lying about his age (giving his date of birth as 26th August 1898), he enlisted in the Royal Naval Reserve. Training in Portsmouth – on HMS Victory II, HMS Excellent and HMS President III – he was assigned to the SS Tanfield.
The steamer was heading out of London en route for Bombay and Karachi in April 1918, and was making its way west through the English Channel. On 15th April, it was located and tracked by the German U-Boat UB74, under the command of Ernst Steindorff. The German fired a torpedo, which hit and crippled Able Seaman Walters’ ship. Thankfully, there was no loss of life, and the Tanfield managed to limp back to port.
Little else remains of Able Seaman Walters’ military life. In February 1919, he was admitted to the Dreadnought Seaman’s Hospital in Greenwich, suffering from influenza and bronchial pneumonia. Sadly, he succumbed to the disease, passing away on 20th February 1919. He was just 18 years old (although his military record and gravestone give him as 19).
Alfred Charles Walters lies at peace in the Wembdon Road Cemetery in his home town of Bridgwater, Somerset.