10124 Private Walter Louis Bunn, 9th & 3rd Battalions Suffolk Regiment, later G/80761 29th (Infantry Works) Battalion Middlesex Regiment and 155461 Labour Corps
Born on 8th September 1892 in Little Gaddesden
Died on 6th August 1968 in Great Gaddesden
Walter Louis Bunn was born in Little Gaddesden, the sixth of the 11 children of Godfrey Goward Bunn and Ellen née Cooling. He was baptised Louis Walter, but later records consistently name him Walter Louis.
His father was Coachman to the Hon. Alfred Talbot at Little Gaddesden House and the family lived at Home Farm Lodge.
Walter’s siblings were:
- George Edward, who died aged twenty, born in 1884
- Sidney Bunn, born 10th August 1885
- Edith, born in 1887
- Elsie Emily, born 15th November 1888
- Ellen or Nellie, born 22nd April 1890
- Godfrey Bunn, born 10th April 1894
- Margaret, born 21st February 1896
- Louisa or Louise, born 10th November 1898
- Edward Charles Bunn, born 29th January 1900
- May, born 3rd July 1902
On 21st October 1895, Walter Bunn, an Infant aged 3 years 1 month, was entered on the Registers of Little Gaddesden School.
On 28th October 1898, Walter was one of several children diagnosed with Scarlet Fever and hospitalised as a result. George Liberty was another and Bertie Purton possibly a third, but the Doctor could not decide. Because of further cases, the school closed for 3 weeks in November, by order of the Medical Officer of Health. On 10th January 1899 the Log Book records:
I hear also that Edith Bunn, Std. 5, has Fever. Her little brother returned from the hospital a little time ago. A baby in the same family also has it. Unfortunately members of the family were at school yesterday.
Walter was the little brother and Louisa was the baby. From 13th January the school closed for another 3 weeks. The date of the Bunn family’s return is not recorded, but Scarlet Fever continued to affect village children into the summer, with the school closed for 4 more weeks from June 3rd.
Prizes for School Attendance 6
Attendance Prizes were sometimes awarded at Little Gaddesden School. In March 1902, Walter Bunn was awarded 2/6d, Ellen 2/- and Godfrey Bunn 1/6d. Others awarded prizes that year included Horace Ruffett 2/6d, William Wells 2/6d, Reginald Purton 2/6d and Sidney Hart 1/6d. In March 1903 and March 1904, Walter and Godfrey Bunn were again awarded 2/- attendance prizes. Others named included Horace Ruffett, Archie Wells and William Wells in 1903 and Victor Collier, Bernard Phillips, Arthur Whitman and Archie Wells in 1904.
On 30th January 1905 Walter Bunn, Standard 5 took his Labour Certificate Examination and obtained his Certificate of Proficiency. Albert Bierton, Sidney Hart, Reginald Purton and Ernest Rogers gained their Certificates at the same time. On 2nd June he left school from Standard 6, when he was 12 years and nearly 9 months old.
In the 1911 Census, 18 year old Walter was a Groom, resident with his father at 2 St Martin’s Mews, London, WC. He, like his father, must have been employed by the Hon. Alfred Talbot, whose family were staying at their London house in Cadogan Gardens.
The Bunn Family in 1911 5
Only Walter’s mother and four youngest siblings Margaret, Louisa, Edward Bunn and May were at Home Farm Lodge, Little Gaddesden on Census night, 2nd April 1911. His brother George had died in 1904. All his other siblings had left home for work: Sidney Bunn at Mr Austin’s Motor Works in London, Edith as a Housemaid in Exning, Newmarket, Elsie, also a housemaid, at Old Abbey, Leiston, Suffolk, Ellen a Domestic Nurse in Berkhamsted and Godfrey Bunn a Stable Helper at Churchill, Hemel Hempstead.
22 year old Walter, a Groom, attested for the Suffolk Regiment at Ipswich on 7th September 1914. On 21st September 1914, he was posted to the 9th Battalion. He then served overseas in France from 30th August 1915.
However, on 15th May 1916, while serving in France, Walter suffered a severe gunshot wound to the abdomen. This must have been treated initially in France, though the record of treatment has not survived. He returned to England on 9th June 1916. His record gives his unit as “Depot” from 9th June to 11th September 1916, meaning that he was in hospital. He then spent time at the Convalescent Depot from 12th September 1916 to 22nd January 1917. However, whilst at the Convalescent Depot, Walter had to forfeit seven days’ pay for absence from 21st to 27th December 1916.
Home Service following his Injury 7
Walter served in England after his injury. After a very brief posting to the 3rd Battalion, Suffolk Regiment from 23rd January 1917, he transferred, Private G/80761, to the 29th (Infantry Works) Battalion, Middlesex Regiment on 2nd February. He was then based at Thetford. In May 1917, that battalion became the 5th Labour Battalion, Labour Corps.
Walter’s service as a Private in the Labour Corps, Service Number 155461, was as follows:
- 18th May 1917 – 23rd August 1917 – 5th Labour Battalion
- 24th August 1917 – 4th September 1917 – 341 Works Company
- 5th September 1917 – 24th November 1917 – Eastern Command Labour Centre at Thetford
- 25th November 1917 – 29th March 1918 – 656 Agricultural Company
- 30th March 1918 – 27th September 1918 – 433 Agricultural Company at Bedford
- 28th September 1918 – 4th March 1919 – 396 Agricultural Company at Oxford
On 3rd April 1919, Walter was demobilised and transferred to Class Z Reserve. However, he was deemed 30% disabled as the result of his wound and granted a pension of 8/3d. a week, initially for a year. Details of any subsequent pension payments are not given. For his War Service, Walter was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal. By Autumn 1919, Walter had returned to his parents’ address, Home Farm Lodge, Little Gaddesden.
Men who have answered their country’s call in defence of a “Scrap of Paper”
Walter Bunn is named on the Roll of Honour, which hangs in St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden and lists 119 men from Little Gaddesden, Ringshall and Hudnall who served in the 1914 – 1918 War. The regiment listed for him is the Suffolk Regiment, in which he first served. He is similarly shown on the Centenary Revision of the Roll. Also listed on the Rolls are his three brothers Sidney Bunn, Godfrey Bunn and Edward Bunn and his brother in law Charles Short, who had married Walter’s sister Elsie in 1913.
Rolls of Honour photos: Jane Dickson, Michael Carver
On 24th May 1920, at the Church of St Luke, Whyteleafe, Caterham, Surrey Walter Louis Bunn, 27, Batchelor, a Gardener of Little Gaddesden, Herts and son of Godfrey Goward Bunn, Chauffeur, married Evelyn Burgess, 29, Spinster of Glencoe Villas, Whyteleafe, and daughter of Peter Alexander Burgess, Gardener.
Walter’s parents remained in Little Gaddesden until 1920, then moved to Great Gaddesden, where his father became Landlord of The Cock and Bottle Inn. From 1921 – 1925, Electoral Register entries show Walter living there with his parents. Evelyn must have been there too, but is not named on Electoral Registers because she was not eligible to vote.
Walter and Evelyn had three children: Dennis Raymond, born in 1921, Peggy, born 11th June 1922 and Phyllis, born 3rd November 1928.
Moving back to Little Gaddesden 11
Electoral Registers for 1925 and 1926 show Walter and Evelyn living at the Gardener’s Cottage, Little Gaddesden. This may have been the Gardener’s Cottage for Little Gaddesden House, by then the home of Bridget Talbot.
However, from 1928, Walter and his family lived in Great Gaddesden again, returning to The Cock and Bottle Inn. When Walter’s father died in 1936, his National Probate Register entry named Walter and his brother Edward Bunn, stating that they were both Market Gardeners.
Then, after his father’s death, Walter became the Landlord of The Cock and Bottle. In the 1939 Register, he is recorded as a Licensed Victualler and Market Gardener.
In Capt. Alan St H Brock’s book, “7th Hertfordshire Battalion Home Guard. A History of the Battalion 1940-44”, Sergeant Walter Louis Bunn is listed as a member of B Company, 7th Hertfordshire Battalion. He served in the No 5 (Little Gaddesden) Platoon whose area included Ringshall, Little Gaddesden, Hudnall and Great Gaddesden. He is included in the 1944 photograph shown below and was still a member when the 7th Battalion was stood down on 3rd December 1944.
Little Gaddesden First World War veterans also identified on this photo are:
- Back Row, L to R: 4. John (Jack) Mayling; 5. Reginald Purton; 6. Don Goodman
- 3rd Row: L to R: 2. Harry Hucklesby
- 2nd Row: L to R: 6. James Gray, Platoon Commander and father of Duncan Gray; 7. Horace Halsey; 9. Joe Hing.
- Front Row: 12. Arthur Maunders
Other veterans known to have served in the Home Guard were: Albert Boarder, Sidney (Jubal) Jones, William Newman (father of Billy Newman), Edwin Purton, Frank Rogers and Edward Saunders. The Battalion’s Adjutant and Quartermaster in 1941 was William O’Kelly.
Younger members of the Home Guard, most of whom were subsequently called up for military service included: George Halsey, son of Horace Halsey; Leonard Hing son of Lewis Hing; Raymond Hing, son of Joe Hing; Fred Hucklesby, son of Harry Hucklesby; Fred Liberty, son of George Liberty; John Oakins son of Steve Oakins; Gordon and Maurice Purton, sons of Reginald Purton, and Arthur Whitman, son of James Whitman and named after his uncle Arthur Whitman.
Later Life 12
Walter gave up the licence of The Cock & Bottle in 1948. His younger brother Edward Bunn then became the landlord.
Walter died on 6th August 1968. The address then recorded in his National Probate Calendar entry was Sybden, Great Gaddesden.
3. Little Gaddesden Baptism Register 1813 – 1947
6. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1887 – 1906 and 1906 – 1934
13. Brock, Capt. Alan St H (ed), (1945?) 7th Hertfordshire Battalion Home Guard. A History of the Battalion 1940-44
14. Police Constable Parker’s list of Little Gaddesden’s Local Defence Volunteers, compiled in May 1940
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Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson