BARNES, Walter Cecil

No.242654, Private, Walter Cecil BARNES
Aged 29

1st/5th Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment
formerly 2522, South Staffordshire Regt
formerly 14793, 11th Essex Regiment
Killed in Action on Monday, 25th June 1917

Walter Cecil Barnes was born on 4th July 1887 in Birdbrook (Risbridge Q3-1887 4A-526), son of Walter and Mary Ann BARNES(née HANNIBAL). Only on his birth registration and the war memorial is he Walter Cecil, everywhere else he is Cecil Walter.

1891 census...Aged 3, he was in Birdbrook with his father Walter BARNES [47] foreman in coal yard; his mother Mary Ann [41] born Ireland; sisters Agnes [24] and Edith [12]; brothers John [8] and Basil [5]. All except his mother were born in Birdbrook.

1901 census...Aged 13, a scholar, he was at the Cottages, Birdbrook with his parents (father now bootmaker); sister Edith; brothers John and Basil now domestic gardeners.

1911 census...Aged 23, farm labourer, he was in Birdbrook with his parents; sister Alice HOY [41] with her daughter Ruby [4] born New Barnet), sister Edith Irene PALMER; brothers John and Basil, both farm labourer. His mother had lost 2 of her 9 children. From the pension card (1917) this remained the family address

He enlisted first in Chelmsford on 16th September 1914, in 11th Battalion, Essex Regiment giving his date of birth ( one year late), occupation, driver. He was 5 feet 6 inches (167.6 cm) tall weighed 123 lbs (96 kg), chest 34" to 36" (86.4 to 91.4cm), blue eyes,brown hair, Church of England. Despite being initially passed fit for the Army, within 30 days he was discharged as being unlikely to make an efficient solider . This appears to be on the strength of very bad teeth. The Army refused many for this reason until they realised it would help their numbers better if they took the men in and then gave them dental treatment. This is apparently what happened eventually to Cecil as he enlisted again in Haverhill and was posted to the South Staffordshire Regiment

The battalion were in the line on the 24th on the western edge of LENS on 24th, in support of their 6th Battalion during an attack on Hill 65. On 25th they withdrew to billets at NOULETTE WOOD.

CWGC records Cecil Barnes as their only casualty for the two days. He was initially buried in Lieven Station Cemetery but moved to Loos British Cemetery in 1920

from we learn that:
Ruridecanal Magazine August 1917 'Everyone was grieved to hear that Cecil Barnes had been killed at the front. Only two days before he had received an appointment as officer's servant. On Monday morning, June 25th, he was engaged in cooking breakfast for a party of officers when he was killed by the explosion of a stray shell. His mother has received letters from officers of his regiment speaking highly of his qualities as a soldier, and of his conduct at the front. She has the sincere sympathy of the people of Birdbrook in her loss.'

His memorial stall in Birdbrook church

photo: Rodney Gibson

photo: Rodney Gibson

Walter Barnes is buried in Loos British Cemetery, grave 19:D:2

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

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