Friends of the Somme - Mid Ulster Branch  
Date Information
29/12/2021 William John Walker was born on 23rd June 1886 in Fivemiletown, County Tyrone
29/12/2021 During the First World War, the area around Etaples was the scene of immense concentrations of Commonwealth reinforcement camps and hospitals. It was remote from attack, except from aircraft, and accessible by railway from both the northern and the southern battlefields. In 1917, 100,000 troops were camped among the sand dunes and the hospitals, which included eleven general, one stationary, four Red Cross hospitals and a convalescent depot, could deal with 22,000 wounded or sick.
29/12/2021 Private William John Walker is commemorated on Kenora Cenotaph in Kenora, Ontario, Canada.
29/12/2021 From the Kenora Miner and News dated 2nd March 1916: 52nd Draft with the 28th
29/12/2021 In a letter received by A L Habgood, Winnipeg, from Private W J Walker, of the Kenora men with the 27th, he says the Kenora boys are doing fine and are quite well. He also writes that Lance Corporal W T Sparks, late of the Tourist Hotel staff, along with 29 others who were picked out of the 52nd Battalion, were in the trenches at the time of writing, and were again doing their bit. We can well imagine the welcome that the Kenora members of the 27th would give their comrades from the old town.
29/12/2021 From the Kenora Miner and News dated 15th May 1915: Kenora Men off to the Front
29/12/2021 An immense crowd assembled at the station to say goodbye to members of the 2nd Contingent. The departure of the Kenora members of the 2nd Contingent for the front on Wednesday with the 27th Battalion from Winnipeg was marked by a tremendous demonstration at the station. Thousands of citizens crowded the platform and approaches to the station to see the young men who are going to the front to represent this town in the fighting line of the empire’s forces. Though the crowd was as large or larger than the immense throng that witnessed the departure of the first contingent, it was different. A more serious, subdued feeling was evident, induced no doubt by the thoughts of the brave boys who left us last August, one of whom was killed and at least ten others wounded in the terrible struggle. Then we did not know what was before them. Today it is different. There is almost a certainty that some will not come back if the war goes on. Though subdued, there was the same intense feeling and, at the same time, a more erect bearing, as all realized the Canadians on the field of glory had no superlore in bravery or daring. Scare one felt the gulp in the throat, but it was not weakness, rather intense pride.
29/12/2021 The first train arrived about 12.30. Only two of the Kenora men were on board this train, and they were given a heart send off. The crowd dispersed for a while, only to gather in greater numbers for the second train. The parting scenes between mothers and sons, sisters and brothers, were pathetic in their sadness, but it could be seen how brave and self-sacrificing the women of Canada are. We and they can only hope that within a few months the joy of reunion will wipe out the scars of parting. The citizen’s band turned out and played many stirring selections dutring the twenty minutes stop of the train, and as the cars moved out, the strains of Auld Lang Syne were wafted back from the Battalion band on board.
29/12/2021 The following are the names of the Kenora and Keewatin men on board From Kenora: Roy Parrott, George R Scott, William J Walker, Roy McDonald, Albert M Edmonds, Benjamin Sutherland, Lawrence O’Flaherty, Thomas O’Flaherty, William Mitchell and John Cameron.
29/12/2021 Private William John Walker is commemorated locally on the WWI Roll of Honour in Fivemiletown Methodist Church and also on Fivemiletown War Memorial.
29/12/2021 William John Walker was the son of Joseph and Mary Walker (nee Caldwell).
29/12/2021 Known family: Joseph Walker, Mary Walker, Robert Walker (born 30th September 1881), William John Walker (born 23rd June 1886), Edward Walker (born 2nd June 1889).
29/12/2021 William’s father, Joseph Walker died in Fivemiletown on 30th April 1907. He was 72 years old.
05/03/2017 From the Belfast Newsletter dated 30th August 1917:
05/03/2017 William was employed at Fivemiletown Railway Station for a time.
05/03/2017 Private Willie Walker, Canadians, killed, was formerly employed at Fivemiletown Railway Station. His mother resides in Fivemiletown.
30/12/2015 Over the course of 1916, Private William Walker was admitted to No 8 Stationary Hospital in Wimereux for eleven days in April, and in August and September to No 4, 5, 6, and 12 Canadian Field Ambulance for what appears to be Pyrexia of unknown origin (unexplained fevers) and influenza. He returned to the field on the 7th of September. On 22 Oct 1916, he was awarded a Good Conduct Badge.
30/12/2015 The 1901 census lists William as age 14 living with the family at house 10 in Corcreevy, Fivemiletown, County Tyrone. William was still at school. His father, Joseph Walker, was a gardener.
30/12/2015 William is listed on a May 1910 Manifest of Alien Passengers Applying for Admission to the United States, leaving Montreal, bound for New York, giving his mother Mary Walker of Fivemiletown as next of kin, and his occupation listed as fireman.
30/12/2015 The 1911 census lists his mother living alone. His father had died.
30/12/2015 By the time of his enlistment on 22 October 1914, William John Walker was living in Kenora, Ontario, employed as a locomotive engineer with the Canadian Pacific Railway. Standing 5 feet 9.5 inches tall, William had grey eyes and dark brown hair. Laurence O'Flaherty, a co-worker and fellow Irishman, also enlisted on the same day.
30/12/2015 As a part of the 27th Battalion, William and Laurence left Kenora for training in Winnipeg on 1st November 1914 according to an article in the Kenora Miner and News dated 04 Nov 1914. The 27th (City of Winnipeg) Battalion was the first independent battalion to be raised in Manitoba in the First World War, raised as part of a response to the demand for reinforcements early in 1915 as Canada struggled overseas.
30/12/2015 Another article in the paper dated 15th May 1915 told of the Battalion passing through Kenora from Winnipeg on 12th May 1915, heading east on the first leg of the journey overseas.
30/12/2015 Their first major offensive was the battle of St Eloi, 5 kilometres from Ypres. Begun on 27th March 1916 by the British, the Canadians joined in on 04 Apr with the 27th Battalion taking over the front line, fully exposed to artillery fire. Casualties were high. One of the most notable battles of Somme the 27th Battalion participated in was the Battle of Courcelette, begun on the morning of 15 Sep 1916. This battle marked the first time in history that tanks were used in warfare although all 6 tanks were knocked out that day. Lasting until 22nd of September, the Canadian Corps lost about 7200 soldiers.
30/12/2015 Private William John Walker died 25 Aug 1917 at the St Johns Ambulance Brigade Hospital in Etaples, France as a result of gunshot wounds to his shoulder and spine. He was 31 years old.
30/12/2015 Private Walker is buried in the Etaples Military Cemetery in Etaples, Pas de Calais, France. His inscription reads: FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH
30/12/2015 William John Walker is commemorated on page 344 of the First World War Book of Remembrance in Ottawa, and on the Kenora Cenotaph in Kenora, Ontario.
30/12/2015 On 24th April 1917, his co-worker from Kenora and member of the 27th Battalion, Laurence O'Flaherty had also died of his wounds.
30/12/2015 The CWGC record Private William John Walker as the son of Joseph and Mary Walker of Fivemiletown, Co. Tyrone, Ireland.
30/12/2015 The vast majority of this information was researched and written up by the Kenora Great War Project in Canada. The link & reference can be found below
30/12/2015 The Canadian archives record 72111 Private William John Walker. The CWGC record 12111 Private William John Walker.
30/12/2015 On 17th May 1915, the 27th Battalion left Quebec aboard the SS Carpathia. By 18 Sep 1915, a cable had been received that the battalion had left England for France.
Read more