Walter Charles Selman was born on 7th June 1899, the youngest of four children to Walter and Annie Selman. Walter Sr was a gardener and, by the time of the 1911 census he had moved the family to the sleepy Somerset village of Burrington.
Sadly, there is little documentation surrounding Walter’s young life. His gravestone confirms that he enlisted in the Wiltshire Regiment; although there is no date to confirm when he enrolled, it is likely to have been in the second half of the conflict, given his age.
Private Selman was assigned to the 4th Battalion, but there is no clear confirmation of where he served. The 1/4th Battalion fought in India and Egypt; the 2/4th was also based in India but remained there for the duration. The 3/4th Battalion – the most likely to be Walter’s troop – was a reserve troop, based on home soil.
Where little is known about Private Selman’s military service, there is similarly little information about his passing. His pension records bluntly put his cause of death as ‘disease’; as with many other recruits towards the end of the war, it is likely that this was, in fact, either influenza or pneumonia.
Sadly, the mustering of the Allied armies – and the associated mixing of young men from across the country in crowded barracks – brought a real danger of disease, and lung complaints were commonplace. While there is no definite proof, it appears that Private Selman may have succumbed to one of these conditions; he passed away in a military hospital on Salisbury Plain on 7th April 1918, two months short of his 19th birthday.
Walter Charles Selman lies at rest in the graveyard of Holy Trinity Church in his home village of Burrington, Somerset.