T/1737, Private, Walter Mignett O'BRIEN
Aged 22

'E' Coy., 5th Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment)
Killed in Action on Thursday 7th January 1916

Born in Albrighton, Staffs [Shifnal, Shropshire 6a:520], in Q4-1893 to Robert Thomas and Amelia O'BRIEN (née BOURNER).

1901 census...None of the family have been positively identified in this census.
1911 census...Walter [17] was an apprentice boot salesman, boarding with Arthur & Harriett PURDON in Wellington Street, Newmarket. Also there was Frank O'Brien, [19] a butchers clerk and recorded as born in Knightsbridge.

From Ashford records we find that having spent most of his life in Newmarket, he moved to Ashford, Kent in 1913, where he resided with Mr. Kingsmill in Somerset Road. He worked in Ashford as an assistant in Messrs Horton, Bootmakers. He became Scoutmaster of the 1st Ashford Troop Boys Scouts, who were in mourning for 3 months after his death.

Further research is needed to establish the relationship to Frank O'Brien who is remembered with Walter on the tombstone in Newmarket cemetery.

Walter enlisted in Ashford, Kent.

The Buffs were part of 35th Brigade in 7th (Meerut) Division in Mesopotamia in 1916 until just after Walter's death. The Buffs lost 40 men killed that day at the Battle of Sheik Sa'ad. The 5th Battalion was part of the attempt to relieve General Townsend's besieged force at Kut-al-Amarah. During the approach it was engaged in action at Sheikh Saad, about 20 miles east of Kut, on 7th January 1916. As soon as the Battalion advanced in the open it came under heavy shell and machine gun fire. Heavy casualties were taken and they ended up digging themselves in 200 yards behind the point they had advanced to.

Walter is buried in Amara War Cemetery, Iraq- Ref:XXXI.D.4
and also commemorated on the family grave in Newmarket Cemetery (K 214/K226)

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