5635 Private Walter Lee, 3rd Battalion Hertfordshire Regiment, later 235243 17th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers
Born on 9th March 1888 in Nettleden
Date of Death unknown
Walter Lee was born in Nettleden, which was then in the Parish of Pitstone, the third of the 11 children of Frederick Lee and Jane née Allen.
His siblings were:
- Charles, born 1st February 1884
- Amy Elizabeth, born in 1885
- George, born in 1890
- Isabel Lee, born in 1892
- Horace, born in 1894
- Elizabeth, born in 1896
- Frederick, born in 1899
- Annie Jane, born in 1902
- Henry, born in 1905
- Albert Thomas, born in 1907
Walter’s family lived at 14 Nettleden and his father was a Sawyer.
In the 1901 Census, 13 year old Walter is a Domestic Houseboy living at 14 Nettleden with his parents and siblings Charles, 17, a Railway Porter, George, 10, Isabel, 9 and Horace 7, who were at school, Elizabeth, 4 and Frederick, 2. His sister Amy was a 15 year old General Domestic Servant in Wood Green, Edmonton, Middlesex.
By 1911, Walter, 23, was a Labourer; he still lived with his family at 14 Nettleden. His 1912 Territorial Force Attestation stated that he was a Bricklayer’s Labourer working for Earl Brownlow, therefore on the Ashridge Estate.
Military Service 4
On 11th March 1912, Walter Lee attested for the 1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment, Territorial Force at Ashridge; he served as a Private, Service Number 1851. He was 5 feet 6½ inches tall with a 36½ inch chest. His Territorial Force Attestation states that he had previously served for almost 3 years in the 2nd (Herts) Volunteer Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment, from which he had resigned. Walter was not the only Little Gaddesden man to attest for the Territorials that day: 1847 Vernon Batchelor R.I.P., 1848 Harry Cutler, 1849 George Hoar R.I.P. and, almost certainly, 1854 Horace Ruffett did too.
Between 28th July and 11th August 1912, Walter attended Annual Training with the 1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment at Worthing. However, on 8th August 1914, he was discharged from the Battalion “in consequence of being Medically Unfit for further Military Service”.
Despite his discharge on grounds of ill health, Walter’s medal records show that he subsequently served with the 3rd Battalion Hertfordshire Regiment and the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and served overseas in France and Flanders. Walter’s Medal and Award Roll entry notes the following information, though no dates are given:
- He first served Private 5635 in the Herts Regiment at the Infantry Base Depot
- After that, he served in the Herts Regiment 3rd Entrenching Battalion.
- He was later transferred to the 17th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers, in which he served as a Private, Service Number 235243. He then undertook three periods of service with them, separated by two periods at the Royal Welsh Fusiliers Infantry Base Depot.
- His Medal and Award Roll entry lists his final unit as 4th Battalion (T.F.) Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
For his War Service, Walter was awarded the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal.
Men who have answered their country’s call in defence of a “Scrap of Paper”
Walter Lee 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. He is listed in the 3rd Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment, in which he first served during the War and he is similarly shown on the Centenary Revision of the Roll.
Rolls of Honour photos: Jane Dickson, Michael Carver
After his military service, Walter returned to his childhood home in Nettleden.
However, on 1st July 1922, Walter Lee aged 34, a Bricklayer, of 14 Nettleden, Hemel Hempstead, Herts left the UK to settle in Canada. He travelled 2nd Class aboard the White Star Dominion Line SS Megantic from Liverpool to Montreal, Quebec. His intended occupation was building or farm work and he was initially going to stay with his brother Horace at 2738 St André Street, St Denis Boulevard, Montreal.
On 9th September 1922, Walter’s brother 23 year old Frederick and his wife Edith May née Orchard also emigrated to Canada; Frederick hoped to work as a factory hand. He was joining his uncle, Mr H (Horace James) Allen, at 229 Regent Avenue, Notre Dame de Grâce, Montreal.
Further records of Walter Lee’s time in Canada have not yet been found; there are several men of the same name and similar age so he cannot be identified individually. If you have any further information that would add to this account, please email Jane Dickson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have any questions about the information recorded here? Or do you have any further information that you can share with us about those from Little Gaddesden who died or fought for their country? In either case, please contact Jane Dickson at email@example.com.
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Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson