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John Edward Walker


John Edward Walker was born in Leek on January 16, 1878 to Edward and Mary Walker. He was baptised on February 3, 1878 at St. Edward the Confessor's Church, in Leek. At this time, the family were living at 62 Shoobridge Street, in Leek. His father’s job was given as Warehouseman.

Early Life

By the time of the 1881 Census, John was living with his mother, father and three sisters: Emily (born 1871), Annie (born 1873) Alice M (born 1876). Ten years later they were still living in the same house, and he has another sister Ellen (born 1884). By this time his oldest sister Emily has become an Assistant Schoolmistress. His father was a Silk Warehouseman. Silk was a very important industry in the area at the time, so it is not surprising to also see two other sisters also working in the industry, one as a Silk Spooler and the other as a Silk Winder.

Chester College

In 1898 before attending college, John taught at All Saints’ School, in Leek, under Mr William Arthur Furmston, who had left Chester College in 1891 having completed his studies. John Edward attended Chester College in 1889-90. On April 2, 1911, John is living in two rooms as a boarder at 54 Park Terrace, in Gillingham, Kent, and his occupation is given as Schoolmaster (Warrant Officer) in the Army.

In 1913, he married Annie Hartwell in Medway, Kent and later the same year their son Harry Edward F Walker was born. The birth was registered in Elham, 11 miles west of Dover.

Military Service

John served as a Schoolmaster in the Army for 14 years. Five of these were in India, which is where he was promoted to Warrant Officer in 1904. The Corps of Army Schoolmasters was formed on July 2, 1845 and was staffed by Warrant Officers and senior non-commissioned Officers, as well as a few commissioned Officers, who served as Inspectors and Headmasters.

In 1859, John’s duties were extended from simple schooling within the Army to assume responsibility for the Army schools and libraries, and in 1903 the Army Schoolmasters fell under the jurisdiction of the Adjutant-General. By the early 1900s, soldiers began to be admitted to evening classes, and some Garrisons opened vocational classes. In 1914, a committee was set up for the Industrial Training of Soldiers, underlining the Army's intent to properly equip soldiers for civilian life. This committee recommended that soldiers should be struck off duty during their last three months of service, in order to allow them to attend vocational training.

After returning to England, John was stationed in Chatham and then Dover. At the beginning of the war, he was appointed Superintendent of Issues at Archcliffe Fort, which stands on a headland overlooking the harbour, known as Archcliffe Point, just outside Dover. This fort was not upgraded during WWI other than with small, quick firing guns used to prevent landing parties taking advantage of the cover afforded by the cliff face.

Lest We Forget

On August 24, 1914, John caught pneumonia and was taken to Shorncliffe Military Hospital, where he died on August 29, 1914. He left his widow, Annie, and son Harry, living in Leek where his father also still lived.

Post Mortem

John is buried at St. James’s Cemetery, in Dover, full military honours being accorded him by the Royal Sussex Regiment, then stationed at Dover Castle. His wife Annie Walker who was then living in Digbeth Street, in Stow-on-the Wold, Gloucestershire requested the headstone should have a cross and also the following inscription: “Sweet memories of one so dear are oft recalled by silent tear. Annie Walker.”