13 William John Walke
William John Walke also known as “ Jack “ by his family was born in Devon England in 1889 to parents Willam Henry Walke and Mary (Pollie) nee Warburton . His father died in 1903 leaving Mary as head of the family with eldest son William “Jack” and his younger siblings Reginald, Elsie and Leonard.
When William was 23 he left for Australia on his own and as a crewman, a ‘general servant’ on the ‘Zealandia’ and arrived in Sydney on the 15th November 1912.
The circumstances behind William leaving his family is a mystery, but like many young men, William was possibly looking for an opportunity and a new start in a fledgling land. Within a few years that possibility was about to change, the world was at war.
On August 19th he enlisted with 1st FCE, one of the first to enlist and was regimental number 13. Initially William was made a ‘batman’ a soldier which is assigned to a commissioned officer as a personal aid or as the British called them, … “personal servant.”
Meanwhile back in England his younger brother Reginald had also enlisted with the British Territorial Forces as a sapper with the Royal engineers and was stationed at Gibraltar.
His record is thin with information, however he served at Gallipoli and as batman was possibly attached to one of the seven original officers of the company. He was later remustered as a driver and transferred to the 3rd Field Co. Engineers, connected with H.Q administrative duties and was back and forth to Anzac Cove on a number of occasions and later transferred to the 2nd Field Co. Engineers.
While serving in France he was admitted to hospital sick in December 1916 and transferred to London general hospital. His war record gives no indication of the type of illness he suffered, however he did not recover enough and was considered unfit for further actice service.
Curiously during his service he was allotted a new regimental number on two occasions 421 and 525, again his war record does not explain the reason for these changes.
In July 1917 he left England returning to Australia on the “HMAT Nestor”for home service.
In November 1917 he was given a medical discharge and later in 1919 he married Rosemary Clarke in Sydney.
His family circumstances and connections with his mother and siblings remain a mystery. His sister made an attempt to locate him in 1922 and it wasn’t until 1961 that his brother Reginald also attempted to locate him, indicating in his letter to the war office that they had not been in contact since 1917.
As it came to pass his search was 20 years too late, sadly William “Jack” had died in May 1941. His brother Reginald was advised of the sad news.
He was buried at The Church of England Cemetery in Rookwood Sydney.
His picture is available through the Thomas Drane website connected to family of Spr Cleveland Page – Sandra Kirris, however the picture has him identified incorrectly, as Makinson.
William Walke is standing centre, Makinson left and Oliver right – Link to Photo below.
As there were originally only six commissioned officers, eventually we will hopefully identify the officer he served as batman.
Ancestry .com – possible connections – Through Justine Walke married to Timothy Shane Walke in W.A
Also looks like Pollie came out to Australia, perhaps with Leonard Walke and settled in Western Australia.