PLUM, Walter

No.1515086, Sergeant, Walter PLUM
Aged 54

Royal Field Artillery
Died of Illness on Saturday, 26th August 1916

Queen's South Africa Medal,with clasps Cape Colony-Orange Free State-Transvaal-South Africa 1901

Walter Plumb was born in Birdbrook (Risbridge Q1-1862 4A:375) son of George and Hephzibah PLUM (née LOFTS ?). They can at times be found as PLUMB.

1871 census...Aged 9, he was in Birdbrook with his father George PLUM [45] farm labourer; his mother Hephzybah [40] born Stambourne; sister Ellen [13]; brothers James [11], Edward [7], Alfred [4] and Charles [2]. All except his mother were born in Birdbrook.

1881 census...Aged 18 a farm labourer,he was in Birdbrook with his father George PLUM [52]; his mother Heprey [51]; brothers Edward [16], Alfred [14] both farm labourers and Charles H [11] scholar.

1891 census...Aged 28, in Army somewhere in UK. His parents were in Birdbrook with his brothers Charles (railway porter) and his nephew Harry [5] (parentage unrecorded)

He married Kate HANDY in Woolwich in 24th December 1893. His father died in 1897

1901 census...Aged 38, he was in South Africa. His wife [34] born London, was living in Birdbrook with his mother.

His wife Kate died on 25th January 1906, aged 38

1911 census...Aged 49, a widower, Army pensioner/blacksmith, he was in Birdbrook with his son Walter Cornelius William [6] born Birdbrook (14-10-1904) It appears that there had been another son, Walter Herbert, born and died in 1902

Walter Plum and his horse........................Walter (seated) with Daniel Bacon ? .. photos from Ray Bradon

He would not have received medals for the Great War, if, as it seems, he never left these shores. (he has no medal index card). What he did have was the Queen's South Africa Medal for service in the Boer War, with clasps for Cape Colony,Orange Free State, Transvaal and South Africa 1901, plus his Long Service and Good Conduct medal.

He enlisted in the Royal Artillery in Woolwich on 5th December 1893, a carman from Birdbrook, aged 21 years 10 months, 5 feet 4.75 inches (164.5 cm)tall, weighing 145 lbs (66 kg), chest expanded 37 inches (94 cm), hazel eyes, clack hair, Church of England .
He served in UK from 5/12/1983 to 18th September 1894, then went to India until 6th November 1889. on 10th March 1890 he extended his service to 12 years in the Colours. He served in UK, extending to 21 years service on 22nd November 1895, then on February 16th 1900 he went to the South African war. He was in South Africa until 28th October 1901 and then returned to UK .
He had a remarkably clean disciplinary sheet but suffered all the time from rheumatism and some bouts of the usual Army sicknesses and illnesses. He was discharged at the end of his full period of service on 4th December 1904.

Not content with such a long military service, on 16th September 1914 he was in Chelmsford, enlisting in the Royal Field Artillery at the age of 52 years, 214 days. He was now 5 feet 5 inches (165.1 cm) tall, 169 lbs (76.9 kg), chest 40" to 42.5" (101.6 to 108 cm) and marked as obese. His medical records show he recorded he drank regularly but only 2 pints (1.1 litr) a day with an occasional gin and smoked 1 ounce of Bruno Strong flake per day. He began to complain of ill health early in 1916 and was eventually admitted to Norwich hospital. There they drained off 23 pints (13 litres) of liquid, reducing his weight to his enlistment weight of 169 lbs (76.9lg)and reducing his waist measurement by 5 inches (12.7 cm). He was diagnosed with a carcinoma of the liver and discharged in Norwich on 20th June 1916 as no longer physically fit for Army service.

from we have more:-
Ruridecanal Magazine August 1916.. 'Sergeant Walter Plum is seriously ill in hospital, but we are glad to hear that he is making progress.'

Ruridecanal Magazine September 1916.. 'Walter Plum has been discharged from the Army as medically unfit for active service. While glad to see him home again, we are all sorry to find him looking so ill, and wish him a return of health and strength'

Ruridecanal Magazine October 1916.. 'Death of Mr. Walter Plum.-Though it was known that Mr. Walter Plum-so well known amongst us as "Soldier Plum," was not likely to live long, the end, which came on Saturday afternoon, August 26th, was not expected quite so quickly. It will always be remembered to his honour that when getting on in years he was one of the first to come forward in Birdbrook to offer himself to his country in the dark days of anxiety at the beginning of the war. He came forward at the recruiting meeting held on September 15th, 1914, and stimulated others to follow his example. He had already been through 21 years of service, had fought in South Africa, had received two medals, was a corporal shoeing-smith in the R.H.A., and had retired on a pension, expecting to live out a quiet old age in peaceful Birdbrook. When he rejoined the colours he was promoted to be sergeant. To what extent active service may have hastened his end it is impossible to say-but a few weeks before he died he became hopelessly ill, and was discharged as unfit for further service. Great sympathy is felt with his little boy Walter, and his good friends, the Bacons.'

The pension card records that death was due to cancer of the liver and mitral heart disease. Mrs Emily Bacon was the guardian of young Walter Cormelius William.
Sgt Plum was buried in Birdbrook Cemetery 29th August 1916 aged 54 years.

Ruridecanal Magazine August 1925 .. reported that the Imperial War Graves Commission had agreed to pay 12/- a year for the upkeep of his grave.

His memorial stall in Birdbrook church

Walter Plum is buried in Birdbrook (St.Augustine of Canterbury) Churchyard..west end

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

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