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Walter Carter
WW1 Soldier's Tale

When war broke out in 1914, Walter Carter and the 1/23rd London Regiment were sent for long months of training before taking their place in the front line and participating in the Battles of Loos and the Somme. Injured three times since the war began, and having seen nearly his entire battalion destroyed, Walter is now a Company Sergeant Major with the 10th Battalion, The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment which has recently been relocated to Italy. His sister, nurse Rose, who worked on the hospital trains going to and from Boulogne and in a head injuries ward at Camiers, has been moved to a Casualty Clearing Station near Ypres. She maintains her friendship with Jamie, an amputee soldier undergoing rehabilitation. Back in Battersea, Ma and Pa (now a member of the Volunteer Training Corps) continue to struggle with air raids, the rising cost of living and the aftermath of the tragic death of their youngest daughter following complications from polio. Walt’s girlfriend, Lily, last year gave up a steady job as a shop girl to take over ‘men’s work’ as a motorcycle courier and now also works as an ambulance driver during air raids. Their friends Fred and Mabel have become parents, despite Fred’s ongoing struggle with shell shock. Meanwhile, the refugee crisis has left crowds of people without a home, Walter’s pacifist brother has been forced into action with the Royal Field Artillery and the latest German offensive ‘Operation Michael’ looks likely to win the war for the Central Powers…

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 was 19 years old when war broke out. He is the fourth of 5 siblings and, before mobilisation in August 1914, lived 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 changed 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 were mobilised and spent many months in pre-embarkation training at St Albans and Luton.

It was March 1915 before he finally arrived in France and was able to take his place in the line. Here he had 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. Now, after years of fighting in France and Belgium, his experience has gained him the position of Company Sergeant Major.

He is courting Lily Howes, whom he met at school, and has given her a sweetheart brooch to ward off other suitors while he is 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. Mary has recently set up a cooking group, where local housewives meet to share recipes using the limited food rations.

dward James Carter

Edward James Carter
Born: 15 November 1887

Edward (known as Ed) is the second of the Carter siblings. At the start of the war he worked as a labourer and lived in the family home at Sabine Road, Battersea. Being opposed to the conflict, his refusal to volunteer in 1914 led to him being handed a ‘white feather of cowardice’ and eventually being conscripted in 1916, a process which he challenged 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 worked at the Lambeth Infirmary, attached to Lambeth Workhouse. Unmarried, much to her mother’s consternation, she enjoyed living at the Ada Lewis Lodging House in Southwark with other nurses and working women.

In October 1914, however, Rose shocked 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 nursed soldiers on the routes between Le Havre, Boulogne and the front, and met amputee Jamie Aitken, with whom she still maintains a letter-writing relationship. In April 1915, Rose was moved to a Field Ambulance, closer to the line, and then to a Casualty Clearing Station where she was promoted to Ward Sister. Now stationed in Belgium, she was part of the main medical response to the Battle of Passchendaele.

Frederick John Dickenson

Frederick John Dickenson
Born: 8 June 1893

Fred is Walter’s closest friend. Before the war, they worked together as porters at Clapham Junction and were both members of the Territorial Force. A year older than Walter, Fred was 20 years old when war broke out in 1914. He was never the sort of chap to take life too seriously and enjoyed winding Walter up, until the strains of war began to take their toll. In 1916, Fred started to suffer from ‘shell shock’, and received brutal treatment both in the warzone and back in England. He is now unable to fight and suffers from lingering after-effects, though he manages to hold down a menial job at the Post Office Home Depot in London. He is married to Mabel and their first child was born in May 1917.

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 met Walter’s sister, Rose, and asked her to write to him. He was then cared for at the ‘Human Repair Factory’ at Roehampton before returning home to Scotland, where he works as a news editor.

 



TERENCE SMITH
Born: 10 SEPTEMBER 1894

DIED: 2 JULY 1916

Terence was a soldier of the Middlesex Regiment, whom Walter met at the training camp in Berkhamsted in the winter of 1915/16. 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.

 

geoff adams

Born: 21 march 1894

died: august 1917

Geoff was a Company Quarter Master Sergeant in Walter’s new battalion, part of the Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment. He and Walter became friends and fought together in the Battle of Messines before Geoff was sadly confirmed killed during the Battle of Passchendaele.