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Walter Carter
WW1 Soldier's Tale

Since war broke out in 1914, Walter Carter and the 1/23rd Londons have completed long months of training, taken their place in the front line and participated in the Battles of Loos and the Somme. Injured twice since the war began, and having seen nearly his entire battalion destroyed, Walter is now a Company Sergeant Major and newly stationed with the 10th Battalion, The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment in Belgium. His sister, nurse Rose, having worked on the hospital trains going to and from Boulogne and at a Casualty Clearing Station, has now been promoted to Ward Sister on a head injuries ward at Camiers. She maintains her friendship with Jamie, an amputee soldier undergoing rehabilitation.

Back in Battersea, Ma continues to struggle with the rising cost of living and the after-effects of her youngest daughter’s episode of polio, while Pa has joined the Volunteer Training Corps, guarding railway bridges in case of an attack on Britain. Walt’s former girlfriend, Lily, has seen her friend Mabel leave to work at the new munitions factory in Woolwich and last year gave up a steady job as a shop girl to work as a motorcycle courier. Meanwhile, the refugee crisis has left crowds of Europeans without a home, munitions disasters on the home front have proved to be as deadly as air raids, Walter’s pacifist brother has been forced to undertake Basic Training and the US has broken off diplomatic relations with Germany…

Walter Henry Carter

Walter Henry Carter
Born: 10 June 1895

Walter Carter is our main character. He was born and raised in Battersea, South London and is 19 years old when war breaks out. He is the fourth of 5 siblings and, before mobilisation in August 1914, lives at home with his mother (Mary Carter), father (Thomas Carter), elder brother (Edward Carter) and younger sister (Annie Carter), while working as a porter at Clapham Junction Station.

Of course, everything changes in the summer of 1914. As a member of the Battersea branch of the Territorial Force: 1/23rd (County of London) Battalion, the London Regiment, Walter and his fellow soldiers are mobilised and spend many months in pre-embarkation training at St Albans and Luton.

It is March 1915 before he finally arrives in France and is able to take his place in the line. Here he has to come to terms with the reality of trench life and learn, very quickly, how best to keep himself and his mates as safe as possible.

He is courting Lily Howes, whom he met at school, and has given her a sweetheart brooch to ward off other suitors while he’s away…

Mary Elizabeth Carter

Mary Elizabeth Carter
Born: 24 September 1865

Mary is Walter’s mother, affectionately known as ‘Ma’. She manages to keep the family fed and clothed on the modest wages of her husband and working children, which is particularly difficult in the face of rising taxes. She worries about all of the Carter children, but remains very proud of those that head out to the Front.

dward James Carter

Edward James Carter
Born: 15 November 1887

Edward (known as Ed) is the second of the Carter siblings. He works as a casual labourer and lives in the family home at Sabine Road, Battersea. He is a something of a free thinker and a rebel, which exasperates his parents. Unlike his brothers, he feels no desire to fight for his country and refuses to volunteer. This leads to him being handed a white feather of cowardice in November 1914 and being conscripted in 1916, a process which he challenges at tribunal. After losing his appeal, he is now in the war zone as a member of the Royal Field Artillery.

Rose Elizabeth Carter

Rose Elizabeth Carter
Born: 28 February 1889

Rose is Walter’s elder sister, the middle sibling. A trained nurse, prior to the war she works at the Lambeth Infirmary, attached to Lambeth Workhouse. Unmarried, much to her mother’s consternation, she enjoys living at the Ada Lewis Lodging House in Southwark with other nurses and working women.

In October 1914, however, Rose shocks her family by setting off unannounced to take up a post aboard a hospital train in France, as part of the Civil Hospital Reserve. Here she nurses soldiers on the routes between Le Havre, Boulogne and the front, and meets amputee Jamie Aitken, with whom she begins a letter-writing relationship. In April 1915, Rose is moved to a Field Ambulance, closer to the line, and later to a Casualty Clearing Station. In 1916 she is promoted to Ward Sister.

Frederick John Dickenson

Frederick John Dickenson
Born: 8 June 1893

Fred is Walter’s closest friend. Before the war, they work together as porters at Clapham Junction and are both members of the Territorial Force. A year older than Walter, Fred is 20 years old when war breaks out in 1914. He is not the sort of chap to take life too seriously and enjoys winding Walter up, though the strains of war are starting to take their toll. In 1916, Fred starts to suffer from Shell Shock, and receives treatment back in England. He is married to Mabel and they are expecting their first child.

Mrs Margaret Wiggins

Mrs Margaret Wiggins
Born: 19 January 1872

Mrs Wiggins is the Carters’ neighbour on Sabine Road, Battersea. Her husband has dealings with the black market, which means that she always manages to get plenty of contraband food. She is a very proud lady and has been a constant source of annoyance to Walter’s mother, although recent news of the loss of one of her sons has softened their relationship.

jamie aitken
Born: 5 february 1887

Jamie is a soldier of the Gordon Highlanders whose leg was amputated after a shell blast at the front. Whilst on the ambulance train to Boulogne, he meets Walter’s sister Rose and asks her to write to him. He is now being cared for at the ‘Human Repair Factory’ at Roehampton and continues to exchange letters with Rose.

 



TERENCE SMITH
Born: 10 SEPTEMBER 1894

DIED: 2 JULY 1916

Terence is a soldier of the Middlesex Regiment, whom Walter meets at the training camp in Berkhamsted in the winter of 1915/1916. A regular of the ‘Die-Hards’, Terence saw service at Mons and Le Cateau at the start of the war and received wounds that required a long stay back in Britain. He returned to the front and was sadly killed in the early days of the Battle of the Somme.