Lieutenant Oswald Walton of Bowes

One young man whose name is not on the World War 1 Bowes Museum Memorial is Oswald Walton. Although he lived in Bowes for a short time as a child, his family had a deep connection with the parish,at least to the middle of the 17th century. His father, Rev. John Milner Walton, was born at Lowfield, attended Bowes School, and, thanks to the Parkin Scholarship, went on to study at Pembroke College Oxford, eventually taking Holy Orders. He was curate at Bowes between 1894 and 1898, during which time he organised the fundraising for the Church clock, installed to mark Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. During the time at Bowes, Oswald’s brother Brian was born.

Lieutenant Oswald Thomas Walton of 18th Squadron Royal Flying Corps died on 12th April 1918, aged 24. At the time of his death his father was rector of Langton-on-Swale, Northallerton where the family had lived for a number of years.

 The 1901 census shows Oswald, aged 7, at Langton with younger brother, Guy. Oswald’s birthplace is given as Darlington but Guy had been born in Bowes, in 1896. By 1911, there are five children living at home. Brian the oldest is 19, born at Kirby Ravensworth, he was presumably away at school in 1911. Oswald’s birthplace is narrowed down to Croft Spa. Guy has been joined by a younger brother Alan aged 5, born at Langton. The year of Guy’s birth in Bowes coincides with a flyer, signed by his father, distributed around the Parish. Funds were being sought to erect a clock in St.Giles’ Church to mark the Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897.Oswald was a pupil at Worksop College and is remembered on the War Memorial there.

Oswald was buried in the H.A.C cemetery in Ecoust-St.Mein. The enemy positions from Doignies to Henin-sur-Cojeul, including the village of Ecoust, were captured on 2 April 1917, by the 4th Australian and 7th Divisions. This cemetery was begun by the 7th Division after the battle, when 27 of the 2nd H.A.C., who fell (with one exception) on 31st March or 1st April, were buried in what is now Plot I, Row A. After the German counter-attack near Lagnicourt on the 15th April, twelve Australian gunners were buried in the same row. Rows B, C and part of D were made in August and September 1918, when the ground had been recaptured by the 3rd Division after five months enemy occupation. The 120 graves thus made were the original H.A.C. Cemetery. However, after the Armistice graves were added from the battlefields of Bullecourt and Ecoust and from a number of smaller burial grounds, there are now nearly 2,000 1914-18 war casualties commemorated in this site.

By Ann Hughes