Walter Vaine Bromley was born in March 1877, one of seven children to Frederick and Jane Bromley. Frederick was a gardener, and the family lived in Maidstone, Kent. Sadly Jane died when Walter was only two years old; while the cause of her death is not noted, she passed away in the Barming Lunatic Asylum in Kent.
Things must have been tough for Frederick; his maternal aunt, Sarah, came to live with the family to help raise his children, but further support seems to have been needed and, by the time of the 1891 census, Walter was a student at the Kent County Industrial School, which was, in effect, a boys home, near Ashford.
By the end of that year, having left school, he enlisted in the army, joining the Royal West Kent Regiment. He served most of his twelve years’ enrolment in India, although he suffered numerous hospital admissions for dysentery, ague and orchitis (a swelling of the testicles, often brought about by a sexually transmitted bacterial infection), amongst other ailments.
On being demobbed, Walter became a postman; he moved to Gillingham, and was given a round serving the Eastcourt area of the town. A year later, he married Rose Brenchley, and the couple went on to have four children; Ada, Violet, Frederick and Hilda.
Hostilities began, and, in July 1915, Walter enlisted in the 8th (City of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (Post Office Rifles). Rifleman Bromley served as part of the Territorial Force for his first year, before being sent to France in August 1916.
His time there was cut short, however, as he received a gunshot wound in the left ankle. William was repatriated to England for treatment, and was eventually medically discharged from the army on 22nd August 1917.
Surprisingly, it seems not to have been the ankle wound that led to Rifleman Bromley’s passing, however. His pension records, instead, give his cause of death as a goitre contracted whilst on active service. Either way, he passed on 9th July 1918, at the age of 41 years old.
Walter Vaine Bromley lies at rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in his adopted home town of Gillingham in Kent.