CWG: Stoker 1st Class Edmund Walsh

Stoker 1st Class Edmund Walsh

Edmund Walsh was born on 11th September 1884 and was one of eleven children – eleven sons – to James and Christiana Walsh. James was a builder and plasterer from Chelsea, London, while his wife was from nearby Marylebone. The family lived in Treverton Street, North Kensington: by the time of the 1911 census, James and Christina were living in two rooms with seven of their children – the oldest of whom were in their twenties.

Edmund, however, had moved on. The same census found him living in two rooms in Rackham Street, not far from his parents. He was sharing the house with his wife, Lilian Walsh, who he had married five years before, and his brother-in-law, Thomas Culverhouse. All three were bringing in some money – Edmund and his brother-in-law were working as labourers, while Lilian was employed as a shirt machinist.

War was coming to Europe and, in March 1915, Edmund was called upon to play his part. He enlisted in the Royal Navy as a Stoker 2nd Class, and was sent to HMS Pembroke, the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent, for training. Edmund’s service records show that he was 5ft 6ins (1.68m) tall, had auburn hair, grey eyes, a fair complexion and a scar on his left eyebrow.

Stoker Walsh’s first posting was on board the gunboat HMS Halcyon. He served there until 5th September 1915, when he was recorded as “run”. Edmund was caught (or handed himself in, it is unclear) on 13th October, and was sentenced to three months’ detention back at HMS Pembroke.

On his release in January 1916, Stoker Walsh returned to duties at the dockyard, before being given a second posting on board the cruiser HMS Bonaventure. He spent just over a year on board, gaining a promotion to Stoker 1st Class in the process. At the end of his time on board, however, Edmund was again sentenced to detention for being absent from duty. The Bonaventure had returned to HMS Pembroke by this point, and this is where he served 28 days in the cells.

Stoker 1st Class Walsh was released back to duties on 17th June 1917, and remained at HMS Pembroke. The Dockyard was a busy and cramped place that particular summer, and he was billeted to temporary accommodation set up in Chatham Drill Hall.

On the night of 3rd September, the town came under attack from a German air raid, and the Drill Hall received a direct hit. Stoker Walsh was among those to be killed that night. He was a week short of his 32nd birthday.

Edmund Walsh was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham, Kent, alongside the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid.

Stoker 1st Class Edmund Walsh

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