13919 Private Walter Darby, 1st Battalion, Norfolk Regiment
Born on 15th July 1891 in Old Hunstanton, Norfolk
Died on 20th March 1952 in Sevenoaks, Kent
Walter Darby was born in Old Hunstanton, Norfolk, the third of the 7 children of Richard James Darby and Ann née Hudson. He was baptised at St Mary’s Church, Old Hunstanton on 29th May 1892.
His siblings were:
- Robert James, born 20th October 1885
- Florence Maud, born 27th January 1888
- Edith Rachel, born 16th May 1894
- Gertrude Elizabeth, born 3rd March 1897
- Alice May, born 15th May 1900
- William George, born 26th March 1904
The family lived at 54 High Street, Old Hunstanton, Norfolk. Their father was a Carpenter on the Hunstanton Estate.
Walter started at Hunstanton Church of England School on 23rd July 1894, an Infant aged 3 years. He left school from Standard 5 in June 1903, aged nearly 12.
In the 1911 Census Walter was a 19 year old Domestic Footman at home in Hunstanton with his parents and five of his siblings. His brother Robert, 25, was a Compositor, his sisters Edith, 16 and Gertrude, 14 Domestic Servants and his sister Alice, 10, at school. 7 year old brother William has no occupation listed.
Few details survive of Walter’s military service. He must have volunteered for the Norfolk Regiment early in the War, as he first served overseas with the 1st Battalion in France on 12th May 1915. However, in the 1918 Absent Voters’ List he is recorded serving in the 7th Battalion. Walter was demobilised and transferred to Class Z Reserve on 10th April 1919.
Men who have answered their country’s call in defence of a “Scrap of Paper”
Walter Darby 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. His entry records him serving in the 1st Bn. Norfolk Regiment. He is similarly shown on the Centenary Revision of the Roll.
Rolls of Honour photos: Jane Dickson, Michael Carver
The Belton Roll of Honour
Walter Darby is one of seven men named on the original Roll of Honour for Little Gaddesden and the Roll of Honour in St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Belton. All were servants of Lord Brownlow, who owned Ashridge House in Hertfordshire and Belton House near Grantham. Walter’s exact role is unknown, but it is possible that he was a Footman, his occupation at Hunstanton in the 1911 Census. The other men named on both Rolls are: Harold Catt, Frank Dove, Matthew Fowler, Herbert Jacobs, Mark Kinchington (recorded Kisington at Belton) and Ernest Moore. Herbert Flowers and Rupert Flowers, whose father was Lord Brownlow’s Coachman, are named on the Belton Roll and have been added to the Centenary Revision of the Little Gaddesden Roll.
“Belton. Welcome Home” 9
A report in the Grantham Journal of 7th June 1919, describes the celebration to welcome men back to Belton.
It was desired, while Lord Brownlow was still in residence, at Belton, to show, on behalf of the whole village and parish, some mark of public welcome to all the brave men in any way connected with Belton, on their safe return from the war, and of united thanks to them and appreciation of their gallant services.
A delightful Social Evening Party was accordingly organised and held in the Schoolroom, on Thursday June 5th, attended by Lord Brownlow and all parishioners, and to which special cards of invitation were issued to our heroes.
The entertainment was in the hands of Mr Pither, who arranged an admirable variety performance of fun and music, in which local talent took part, powerfully aided by Messers. Matt Broughton and Thompson of Grantham.
Proceedings began at 8 o’clock with a short opening speech by Lord Brownlow, in which he touched upon the main purpose of the gathering and spoke feelingly of those who had fallen and of those who mourned their loss. The names of the invited men who have returned were then read out and each, in turn, amid welcoming hand claps, came forward and shook hands with Lord Brownlow.
Abundant refreshments provided by his Lordship were spread in the open air in the Schoolyard. Dancing followed and the happy gathering was kept up until 1 o’clock, when the proceedings were brought to an end with three cheers for Lord Brownlow and the singing of God Save the King.Quoted extract courtesy of the Grantham Journal
At Belton 10
The dates of Walter’s employment by the Brownlows are not known. However, he was still at Belton in May 1920 as he played for the Belton Park Cricket Team against Great Gonerby at Belton Park on 15th May. Batting at No. 8, he made just 1 run; the home team lost heavily, scoring only 34 to Great Gonersby’s 70.
Walter Darby married Beatrice Ethel Barber in the 4th Quarter of 1925 in Dartford, Kent. Their son Roger was born in Kent in 1928.
Later Life 2
Walter remained in Domestic Service. In the 1939 Register he and Beatrice are shown living at Highfield, Shoreham, Sevenoaks Rural District, Kent where he was the House Steward and Beatrice the Cook. Their employer was Sir Herbert B Cohen, a Barrister of Private Means. The 1939 Register also notes that Walter previously served for 5 years as a Private in the Norfolk Regiment.
Walter was still a Butler in Private Service when he died, aged 60, on 20th March 1952. His adddress at the time was Ford House Cottage, Eynesford, Kent. However, he died of Jaundice and Chronic Pancreatitis in Sevenoaks Hospital.
13. Copy (pdf) of the Death Certificate of Walter Darby d. 20th March 1952
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Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson