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Walter Carter
WW1 Soldier's Tale

29th June 1914

Walter: The papers are full of it today, about the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Take a look at the article. A chap my age shot him and his wife with a Browning pistol. Someone tried earlier in the day with a bottle bomb full of nails but it bounced off the car. Anyone know what this is all about? John?

John: Well, Bosnia is occupied by Austria-Hungary, and pa says the Archduke was over there inspecting the Austrian army...

Rose: The assassin was Serbian though, so you can bet Austria-Hungary’s going to come down hard on Serbia over this. I reckon Germany would back them up too.

Walter: Bad idea to get the wind up them, looks like they’ve been preparing for war anyway. Let them face us Terriers, they won’t know what hit them.

Fred: Still don’t see what it has to do with us. They can sort each other out. I’m going home for a pie.

To find out more about the event that started WW1 go to

28th June 1914

Walter: There’s rumours going about that the Austrian archduke and his wife have been murdered in Bosnia. Will have to see what the papers say tomorrow.

Charles: Rum news. Could be trouble if it’s true.

To find out more about the assassination visit

27th June 1914

Walter: Just so that everyone knows, the porter called ‘Walter’ who was nearly hit by a train wasn’t me - it was some other chap, a Walter Simpson, from Godalming. Silly fellow was carrying parcels across the line and didn’t see the express coming through until it was nearly on top of him! He jumped up onto the platform just in time (army training) and only the heel of his boot was knocked off. Not to mention there’s been another train crash - Cannon Street this time.

Ma: Just you be careful.

Walter: I nearly didn’t say anything because I knew you’d fret! Don’t worry, I’m smarter than that… and I’m enjoying life far too much to put meself in danger, eh Lily?

Lily: Glad to hear it! Are you still taking me to the music hall tonight?

Walter: Of course I am – I been saving up me TF Bounty Night pay so I got plenty to make a grand time of it at the Grand! I’ll put on me walking-out uniform - we’ll be the finest couple there.

Ma: Enjoy yourselves.

To find out more about the Music Halls in the area visit

25th June 1914

Rose: Looks like you were right about dangerous umbrellas Lily… A German chap was caught in one of these thunderstorms –he got away from the trees and laid himself down in the middle of a field, but opened his brolly to keep off the rain, and the lightning hit it! Four other people was killed by lightning in Europe too. I should think I’d rather get rained on.

Lily: I knew it! Everyone’s been buying umbrellas and parasols at the shop because the weather keeps changing. I think they should come with a warning.

24th June 1914

John: Have you seen the new air force badge in the paper? Proud to say the Royal Naval Air Service is now going to be a service by itself. The emblem is going to be an eagle. Good choice eh Walter?

Walter: Sounds grand. They’ll still need us on the ground though… You should have seen us at training last night - even Fred kept time!

Fred: I never was much for rhythm, was I? Could still stick it to the enemy though, whoever he turns out to be. Great badge, John.

23rd June 1914

Walter: Talk at up the drill hall tonight about a civil war with Ireland. Ulster wants to stay part of us for more than just 6 years, but Asquith’s government don’t look like they’re going to agree. Can’t see the sense of it at all – not after the army have said they won’t fight against the Ulster boys.

Fred: I know we’d all like a chance to use our training, but not like this. Waste of an army, that’d be.

To find out more about the Ulster Covenant go to

22nd June 1914

Walter: Well, now the Austrians have tried their hand at an aerial combat show – made a rum job of it though. A biplane flew over an airship as if to drop bombs on it but it caught the balloon with the propeller. Both went down in flames. I wouldn’t have thought Austria-Hungary would try it again. They want to come here and see it done proper.

21st June 1914

Walter: What a lousy Sunday. One piece of homemade shortbread each and I drop mine in me tea.

Fred: Ha! Bad luck Walt.                               

To find out more about food in the early 1900s go to

20th June 1914

Walter: John, it looks like the British and Russian navies have been getting very cosy, toasting each other, so at least it seems the Russians will be on our side if anything does come our way… they’ve been arming and reorganising their military too, so should be top notch.

John: Good to know – although I heard they’ve still got 2 years before they’re fully armed. Not that our boys would need any help, anyway.

Walter: The Terriers are ready for anything too.

19th June 1914

Walter: That weren’t the end of it, what I said yesterday. The paper says today about a scotch train what fell into a river, a German liner getting onto rocks by Portland Bill, another German ship crashing in the channel, a British steamship wrecked near Africa and then one in the Philippines. And the fire in the dock at Glasgow burning four ships. All yesterday. Something’s wrong with the world.

Ed: There was more lightning too, up in the Midlands - it killed a man and two horses, and everything’s flooded.

John: Civil war starting in Albania as well – wouldn’t think nothing of it, only they’ve just sent 100 of our Marines to guard the prince. My pa says the world’s like a pot about to boil – says the European countries are fighting over who gets to start a war first.

Fred: All them countries is always fighting against each other. Nothing to do with us I say.

Lily: Seems we’re more likely to get hit by lightning than a bomb. Two more people killed in storms today… I’m frightened to go out of the house! Especially having to take a brolly.

To find out more about events that led to WW1 visit

18th June 1914

Walter: Yet more travel upsets. A German liner and another Liverpool steam ship crashed and the Bristol train to Ascot hit the Great Western express train at Reading. The express driver died but I’m surprised no one else did… seven out of eight coaches had their sides ripped clean off. I reckon the signalman got fuddled, eh Fred?

Fred: I suppose he did. It’s that sort of mistake the new signal lad gets nightmares about. Don’t like to think about it meself neither.

17th June 1914

Walter: Ascot races today! Wish I could take you there Lily.

Lily: Everyone at Arding & Hobbs has been talking about what all the ladies will wear… thank Heaven the weather is better. We’ve had people asking for all sorts of exotic things in the shop: transparent skirts even, so you can see their ankles and shins! There are parasols in different shapes, with the handles off to one side when you open them. Quite a good idea I should say.

Mabel: Don’t forget the ‘Futurist’ black and white shoes!

Lily: Of course, and the flash jewelled ones… and the hats with the enormous feathers…

15th June 1914

Lily: Oh how sad to hear about the children hit by lightning on Wandsworth Common. They should know better than to stand under a tree in a storm, but poor dears.

Walter: Did you see what happened to the lady’s hat? We’d better stay inside for training tomorrow – imagine 100 men with bayonets in that lightning!

Lily: Don’t you even joke about it!

14th June 1914

Walter: What a storm! Thunder and lightning like it’s the end of the world.

Lily: We have hailstones the size of half-crowns coming down in our street – the cats are crazed and it’s set all the dogs off barking. The little’uns are pretending to be scared but I’m quite enjoying meself! The road looks like a branch of the Thames…

Lily: Mabel, I’ve just thought about you and your family all in that basement flat on Shelgate Road… Let me know if you’re getting on alright.

Lily: Send us a line if you can, Mabel.

Mabel: Sorry about that, we was all sitting down to eat our Sunday dinner when mother gave a yell that the water was coming down the steps and we spent the next hour trying to stop it getting in. Little brother was pretending he was aboard the Empress of Ireland, which didn’t help no one, and we ended up with two inches of water in the flat. Have been doing our best to bail it out but Pa says we’ll have to stay with Aunt Florence up the road for a while.

Lily: That’s horrible, I’m so sorry. Come to visit if you need to. Glad to hear you’re alright though.

Walter: Ma and I are sorry to hear it, Mabel. If you need any help with the flat I’ll bring the boys over. How is it at the Lodging House, Rose?

Mabel: Thank you, you’re good pals.

Rose: Alright here. My cubicle’s near the top of the house anyway. Edie and I spent the storm shouting to each other over the partition! It’s times like this I’m glad I live in a house full of women.

To find out more about the June storms go to    

11th June 1914

Walter: Where was it you went for your photograph, Lily? I just saw Mayor John Archer coming out of his photographic studio on Battersea Park Road. It still surprises me that he manages to keep up his business and be Mayor at the same time.

Ed: Hardly the most surprising thing about him though, is it…?

Walter: You mean because of his colour? That’s just Battersea for you – if anywhere was going to elect the first black mayor in London, you can bet it was going to be Battersea! Not everyone’s cup of tea, but he’s doing a lot for the poor.

Lily: His place was closed, so I went up the one by Clapham Common. My ma says Mayor Archer’s studio is closed more often than not while he’s doing council business.

Charles: I heard he was from Rangoon or India or somewhere. See, I knew some Hindus when we was in India and I would say he don’t look like them.

Walter: No, that’s just what the papers said when he wouldn’t tell them where he was from. When he got in he said he was actually from Liverpool…

Rose: It were a good speech he gave. Look out for the sarcasm…

“I am the son of a man who was born in the West Indian islands. I was born in England, in a little obscure village that probably never was known until this evening… the City of Liverpool. I am a Lancastrian born and bred, and my mother - well she was my mother. She was not born in Rangoon and she was not Burmese. She belonged to one of the greatest races on the face of the earth. My mother was an Irishwoman, so there is not much of the foreigner about me after all.”

To find out more about John Archer visit

10th June 1914

Lily: Happy birthday beloved! I’ve had a new photographic portrait taken and I plan to make a present of it.

Walter: Thank you Lily, I think that would be just fine. I should like to have a little picture of you to keep with me.

Mary: You two! Imagine if your father saw such a public show. You’ll see Lily soon enough for a celebration I’m sure Walter. In the meantime, I’ve made your favourite meat pudding for dinner and we even have a cake that Annie helped to make. It does look the part.

Walter: Thanks Ma.

9th June 1914

Walter: Every day now there’s something in the paper about them suffragettes… wherever the King and Queen go they get a woman telling them about force feeding in the prisons, or torture, or voting and all that. They must get right fed up. Hopkins was on parade tonight – says his sisters only wear green, purple and white now - suffragette colours.

Charles: Sounds like an epidemic of madwomen… We ought to forget the Ulstermen and the Germans and sort the women out first, before the whole of England turns lunatic.

Mabel: Quite right too – sort us out with the vote.

Lily: Oh Mabel, I don’t think that’s what he meant. Nice to hear the Queen say something about it though – I was expecting her to be angry but she just said, “If this had been the worst thing the women had done they might perhaps be forgiven.” I wonder if she’s secretly on our side after all.

To find out more about the rise of the Suffragette movement visit

8th June 1914

Walter: Happy Birthday Freddy! Somehow you always manage to sneak in a birthday two days before mine.  We’ll have to sing you that new song – ask Annie what it is Ma, I know the children sing it sometimes.

Mary: Annie’s singing it to you from here, Fred!

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear Fred
Happy birthday to you!

Fred: Well thank you very much! Tell Annie I’m very pleased with it.

To find out more about the origins of the song ‘Happy Birthday’ go to

4th June 1914

Fred: Walter, John – looks like it’s England’s turn now. Our boys had a go at dropping bombs out of aeroplanes over Salisbury Plain. Only paper ones, mind, but the marksmen were so good they could hit a tent on the ground from up in the air! The paper said all of Salisbury would have been wiped out if it hadn’t been make-believe. Well done lads.

Walter: That is impressive. I’ll almost be bored having to practise on the ground at training on Tuesday…

1st June 1914

Walter: The Germans are going to have a show of ‘aerial combat’ in Mainz, near Berlin - what I’d give to see that! Aeroplanes, balloons and Zeppelins on a practice mission, with codes written on them for the ‘enemy’ to work out. Imagine wars being fought in the sky… that would be a thrill.

Mary: Thrill, my eye! If they were the enemy and could fly over here with bombs to drop on Battersea, you wouldn’t talk such footle. Be careful what you wish for.

Fred: It’s alright Mrs Carter, the Germans can play with their Zeppelins, it’s Ireland we’re worrying about. And if the enemy gets anywhere near Battersea, the 23rd London Regiment will make them wish they’d never got out of bed!

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Now available as a Paperback and on Kindle
Walter Carter
WW1 Soldier's Tale