SAYER, Walter

No.3/10185, Private, Walter SAYER
Aged 29

7th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment
Killed in Action on Friday, 21st April 1916

Walter Sayer was born in Barnham (Thetford Q4-1887 4A:388), son of Nathan and Priscilla Agnes SAYER (née BELSHAM).

1891 census...Aged 3, has was at Euston Road, Barnham with his father Nathan SAYER [28] labourer born Ingham; his mother Priscilla [26] born Barnham and brother William [1] born Barnham.

1901 census...Aged 13, a farm boy, he was at West Farm Cottages, Barnham with his father Nathan SAYER [38] horsekeeper born Ingham; his mother Priscilla [37] born Barnham; brothers William Robert [11] born in Barnham and Albert [5] born Hawstead; sisters Annie L [8] born Hawstead and Edith May [1] born Barnham.

1911 census...Aged 23, farm labourer, he was "near Nunnery", Snarehill, Thetford with his parents (father now recorded as born Seven Hills, nr Bury St Edmunds) brother Albert (farm labourer) and sister Edith.

His younger brother Albert died in France in 1918. Both brothers served in the Norfolk Regiment. see here

He enlisted in Norwich on 7th September 1914, giving his address as Uphall Cottage, Ashill, Watton, Norfolk. Date of birth 26th October 1887 in Barnham. A bricklayer's labourer, he was 5 feet 2.5 inches (158.8 cm) tall, chest 35" to 38" (88.9 to 96.5cm), weighing 125 lbs (56.9 kg), blue eyes, brown hair and Church of England. He had served in the 4th Norfolk Territorials from 1908 to 1912.
12th September 1914 he joined the 9th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment, then on 13th February 1915 to the 3rd Battalion and back to the 9th on 30th April. He was promoted to Lance Corporal on 28th August before posting to France and the British Expeditionary Force on 30th August 1915
He received a gunshot wound to the head in November, and was processed via 17 Field Ambulance to 10 Casualty Clearing Station (Remy Siding, Lijssenthoek, Belgium). From there he was taken to 24 General Hospital at Etaples, then on 11th November by SS "Dieppe" back to England where his posting was "Depot" but which hospital is unknown. Then posted to the 10th Battalion on 20th January 1916. Possibly happy to be returned to health he overdid the celebration on 21st February 1916 and charged with being drunk and violently resisting the Military Police. This resulted in demotion to Private on 21st February. On his return to his unit on 1st March 1916 it was to the 7th Battalion. His record then simply states "killed in action at a place unknown" on 21st April 1916.

The family form, completed by sister Priscilla on 12th March 1920 gives his parents and Priscilla at Railway Cottages, near the Nunnery, Thetford. Brother William [30] was in Western Australia, Sister Annie [27] was Mrs Clarke at New Zealand Cottages, Barnham. Edith May was at Castle Street, Thetford. By then brother Albert was dead.

From the war diary:-
Camp 'D'- A.30 sheet 28 (just north of Brandhoek between Poperinge and Ypres) - 21/4/16 GOOD FRIDAY, Parade service in camp 'D' (Rev.Kinlock Jones). Artillery activity in Salient. Rain.

CWGC have three of the battalion killed that day. There is no explanation of how these three came to be buried in Vermelles, miles away, in France

photo: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Walter Sayer is buried in Vermelles British Cemetery, grave 2:K:39

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details