WALPOLE, Ronald Orford

5215, Private, Ronald Orford Spencer WALPOLE
Aged 26

1st/14th Battalion, London Regiment (London Scottish)
Killed in Action on Saturday, 1st July 1917

Ronald Orford Spencer WALPOLE was born in 14 Victoria Street, Bury St.Edmunds on 13th March 1890 (Bury St. Edmunds Q-1890 ), baptised at Beyton, All Saints on 6th July 189, son of Henry Orford Calibut and Henrietta WALPOLE (née PAYNE).

1891 census...Aged 1, he was at 13 Victoria Street, Bury St Edmunds with his father Henry O.C. WALPOLE [35] solicitor born Norwich; his mother Henrietta [29] born Icklingham; his sisters Mildred M [3] and Dorothy [2] both born in Bury St.Edmunds; visitor George PAYNES, [56] born Bradfield, a retired police inspector.

1901 census...Aged 10, he was at 16 Out Northgate, Bury St.Edmunds with his widower father; sister Mildred M., Dorothy and Margery [9] born Bury St. Edmunds. Also visitors Mary L. Mills [44] born Topsham, Devon and Ida Flora MILLS [13] born Lewisham. His mother had died in 1896.

1911 census...Aged 21, he was still at 16 Out Northgate, Bury St.Edmunds with his widower father and sisters Mildred Marie, Dorothy and Margery.

He enlisted in London when resident in Bury St.Edmunds.
This operation was actually a feint to try and draw the Germans to the north, and the Germans initially believed this to be the main attack and reacted accordingly thus wreaking havoc of our troops. Having moved forward from Bayencourt on the 30th June they were on the right of the Division near the Hebuterne to Puisieux road. The smoke screen was too effective, causing our men to lose direction. They suffered very heavy casualties on the advance across No Man's Land but reached and passed the first two German front lines and reached the third German line. The Germans had however been withdrawn to their support trenches and were waiting for them. After suffering more heavy losses their The C.O. says in his notes that by 4 p.m. he had three choices:
1..remain with such of his men that were alive and be killed,
2..surrender to the enemy,
3..to withdraw such of his men as he could. The first two were distasteful so he elected for the latter.

They withdrew that evening, having suffered 220 killed, of which only 40 have known graves.

At the start of the day they had 28 Officer and 811 other ranks (of which 5 officer and 62 OR were ordered to stay behind) and 1 officer and 36 medical staff and stretcher bearers. At roll call next day there were only 9 officers and 256 other ranks and 21 medical staff and stretcher bearers left.

The Bury Free Press of 22nd July 1916 :-

We record with sincere regret the death of Prvt. Ronald Orford Spencer Walpole, only son of Mr. H.O.C.Walpole, solicitor of Bury St.Edmunds, who was killed in action in France on July 1st, the date of the initial stage of the great and successful British advance against the Germans. Prvt Walpole, who was 20 years of age last March was a native of Bury St.Edmunds and was educated at the East Anglian School in our town. He subsequently entered the Ipswich branch of the Alliance Insurance Co., and was eventually transferred to the Sheffield office, where he was up till the date of his joining the London Scottish (14th London Regt.) in September last. He served his period of training in London district, finishing his musketry course at Sheen, and in February went out to France, where he was attached to the Lewis Machine Gun Section, with which he was serving at the time of his death.
The deceased has the distinction of being the first member of the Walpole family to give his life for his country on the field of battle. Prvt Walpole had many friends in Bury by whom he was held in warm regard and by whom his death will be deeply mourned. Sincere sympathy is felt for the family in their heavy bereavement

Ronald Walpole is commemorated on the Thiepval memorial, pier/face 9C/13C

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