Continuing our Farnham Remembers feature which first looked at the Great War story of Sergeant Thomas Hollingsworth Tovey, we now look at the life of another Farnham boy and his experience on the Western Front.
The Museum of Farnham opens its new exhibition this Tuesday Time to Remember: An Exhibition to mark the first two minutes silence, May 1916, exploring the background to the events on Castle Street including what is widely believed to be the first two minutes silence anywhere in the world. On Sun 01 May there will be a largescale townwide event to mark the centenary of this occassion, more details to come very soon.
Lieutenant Walter George Frederic Welch
Lieutenant Walter G. F. Welch was the only son of R. Courtenay Welch, of Army College, Heath End, Farnham.
Walter was educated at Charterhouse and the Army College before he attended the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. During his time at the Academy he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery and posted to the 127nd Battery at Bordon. Walter was promoted to Lieutenant three years later and joined the 44th Ammunition Column. After this he joined the 117th Battery Royal Field Artillery and took part in the First Battle of Ypres. On 30th October 1914, Walter’s gun was posted in a wooded area a hundred yards south of Veldhock; an area that was quickly becoming indefensible. Just before the order to retreat was given, Walter was struck by a shell and killed. He was 24 years old.
Walters’ Commanding Officer wrote of him ‘the life and soul of our little mess, a keen and good soldier.’ A soldier serving under him wrote ‘Mr Welch was always very popular with the men, but especially so in action.’
Walter was buried with his guns where he fell. After the war his father bought a small plot of land surrounding his grave and put up a private memorial, something the War Graves Commission tried to stop. On 9 November 1956 Walters’ body was exhumed and reburied in Ypres Ramparts Cemetery, Belgium.