Feature page

3569 Sergeant Walter Armstrong

2nd Bn Lancashire Fusiliers
Number 3569 Sergeant Walter Armstrong was only 23 years old when on the 8th Feb, 1893 at St Stephen, Parish Church, Elton he married Florence Jackson who was then 21 and living at 267 Bolton Road Bury.

Walter was at that time living in Wellington Barracks and was soon to go to the Sudan to fight at Omdurman with the 2nd Bn The Lancashire Fusiliers.

Following the Sudan campaign (note on this pic he wears the Campaign medal and also the Khedive's star)

Walter is seated 3rd from the left on front row

He was then off to fight in the Boer war with the LFs and is listed as having fought at Spion Kop.

Walter is first on left front row
Note his South Africa medals.

He was discharged from the British army on the 16th January 1913 to pension, by which time he was the father of 8 children, and he emmigrated to Australia the same year.

Within 4 weeks of arriving in Australia, this remarkable man at the age of 41 years and 4 months enlisted as number 967 Sgt Walter Armstrong into the Artillery of The Australian Imperial Force and went off to war with them to Gallipoli and Mudros. !

He was quickly promoted to CSM and later to RSM.

Having survived Omdurman, Spion Kop and Gallipoli and Mudros , he was posted to the UK as an Instructor in some capacity until his dicharge back in Australia in 1919.

His British Army service records were destroyed in the WW2 London Blitz, but his AIF records are below and make fascinating reading.

A fine story of a fine man, who served the Empire for at least 31 years and saw more action than is imaginable.

Dear Captain Eastwood,

I congratulate you on moving so quickly to set Walter up on your website and we are very excited about the manner in which you have presented it.

Minor corrections:- His discharge was 16 1 1913 to pension.
He was in France but only Hospital stays are recorded
He was awarded the French Croix de Guerre also

A few anecdotes my mother, Florence Armstrong, told me -

I was 3 -1/2 years old when Walter Armstrong died - my memory is of an old man
Everyone looks old when you are that age. He lived in our home in Bankstown until he went to hospital and I can vaguely remember visiting him there with my older brother and mother and Father. Walter died in March 1938 in hospital. His age on that certificate was given as 68 years.

The story I was told about him was that when World War1 was about to break out he resigned his Commission with the Fusiliers and came to Australia in 1913. (The signed copy of his 'Attestation Paper of Persons Enlisted for Service Abroad' (25 9 1914) indicates that he was, in fact, discharged to pension on 16 1 1913).. He appears to have reached Australia some time in 1913 or 1914, looking about before bringing his family out. This did not occur until 1920.

Australian soldiers got 2 bob (shillings) a day more pay. and he decided to enlist here. To be eligible to enlist in the Australian army he understated his age by 3 or 4 years..

We do not have any actual birthdate but we estimate it as 1870 -3. However, the Marriage Certificate points to 1870, as you have stated, for him and we assume he was most likely born about 1870. - I was hoping that your old records would have shown us his actual birthdate. His birthplace appears in various document as Rochester, Salford and Northampton
When the Australian troops were training in Egypt prior to the Gallipoli campaign Lord Kitchener recognised him and said "What are you doing here?" Walters response was
"Same as you Sir."

From all of what I can only now assume he was too old for the English Army and as a
Career soldier and knowing that war was imminent he must have realised he would not be able to rejoin his regiment and paid his way to Australia and joined the AIF 7th SEPTEMBER 1914.

What Walter would not have known was that two of his sons (one of whom was a conscript and didn't want to be a soldier) the other was already with the Yorks & Lancs.
Both lads died in France one in April 1915 and the other September 1915. What I have here are two bronze memorial plaques also known as 'dead mens pennies' which my Grandmother received from the British Government. These plaques are of great interest here in Australia as nothing like this was issued to fallen soldiers by the Australian Government.
My mother believed those two boys were buried where they fell somewhere in France),
Walter would not have known of their deaths until possibly after returning to England as at the time he was fighting in Gallipoli with the ANZACs

It is interesting now to know just how lucky Grandfather Walter was to have survived such terrible campaigns both with the British and Australian armies.

After the war ended he returned to England to pick up his wife and family and they came to Australia on the Lucy Woerman in 1919 - Walter having told his wife that he couldn't live in England as it was too cold. I know that my mother had a baby sister who died on their return from India about 1912 (I think there was a coal strike on at the time) and my Grandfather said what could you expect, a hot house flower being put in a cold house.

His children were:-
Elizabeth b 1885 Bury
Harold b 1886 Quetta KIA France Yorks & Lancs
Walter Percival 1888 India KIA France Yorks & Lancs ?
Florence 1901 Portsmouth
Albert 1904 Ireland
Norah 1908 Ireland
Mildred 1911 India

Dear Joe,
Here are photos of the two boys. There is no identification on them so some doubt remains as to who is who. The buttons may indicate what Regt he belongs to.
If they are buttons of the Lancashire Fusiliers this should resolve the issue as Harold has now been confirmed as a member of the Yorks & Lancs.
A friend has used his Ancestry.com subscription to obtain the following:-
Harold joined the Royal Garrison Artillery, needing his mother Florence's permission to do so as a Reservist, naming his sister Elizabeth and brother Walter Percival on his papers also with a date of 5 1 1914.
A Regt'l No 3/20405 is mentioned.as well as his age as 17yrs 10mths. He had Lance Corporal rank at 5 9 1916 , Acting Sergeant in 1916 and back to Corporal again.
There is difficulty in reading later documents but he he died of gunshot wounds on 19 4 1938 as a member of the Yorks and Lancs. He may have Regt No 40389 at this stage.
I note that you used the name of William Percival in an earlier E-mail probably when you found W P Armstrong but it was really Walter Percival.

Rank: Lance Serjeant
Regiment/Service: York and Lancaster Regiment
Unit Text: 1st/5th Bn.
Date of Death: 19/04/1918
Service No: 3/20405
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: XXIX. F. 12A.

Harold Armstrong, No 2182, at the age of 17 yrs 3 months, at Bury joined the Army Reserves, (Special Reservists) Kings Own Royal Lancaster Regt,on 26th ...... (unreadable), and on 5th January, 1914, obtained his mother's permission to enlist into the 3rd Royal Garrison Artillery Regt at Tynemouth.
After 5 months training was completed at Royal Lancaster Regt's Special Reserve as No 3/10405 before posting,
.and by 7 6 1915 was serving in the 3rd Battn, York & Lancashire Regt on Active Service;as an Acting Corporal. In Sept 1916; shortly after he was an Acting Sergeant; reverted to Lance/Corporal on posting to 'B' Coy on 23 8 1917 and to L/Sergt on 13 10 1917.
Died 19th April 1918, Etaples.

Rank: Lance Corporal
Regiment/Service: Lancashire Fusiliers
Unit Text: 1st/5th Bn.
Date of Death: 29/09/1918
Service No: 202048
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: IV. B. 4.


LF Families at Hill Station Poona India
circa 1897.

I believe that my mother is the girl at far left in second row

Audrey McLeod
(Walters Granddaughter