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Walter Helmn was born in Morecambe to Thomas and Emma (nee Hoyle) in 1893. Walter`s father was a bricklayer by trade and was originally from Barrow and his mother Emma was from Manchester. When they married on 31 March, 1890 in St. John the Baptist Church Thomas and Emma were both living in Great Marsden (Nelson and Burnley area).

Thomas and Emma had eight children including Walter but only six of them survived infancy;

  • John William (1890)
  • Florence (1892)
  • Walter (1893)*
  • Samuel (1894)
  • Emma (1896-1896)
  • Thomas (1899-1899)
  • Thomas Alfred (1902)
  • Frank Richard (1904)

The eldest son John William was born in Great Marsden but by the following year the family had moved in with Thomas`s widowed father at 2 Moss Lane in Poulton le Fylde. Ten years on the family had grown in size and they had also relocated again and the 1901 Census shows them living in Slyne with Hest near Morecambe.

Walter seems to have had a keen interest in cookery and according to the newspaper article below he went to Ambleside in the Lake District to “learn cookery” later taking up positions in Lytham, Canterbury, Broadstairs and Southsea.

By 1911 the Helmn family had moved again, this time to a small cottage in Woodplumpton but Walter isn`t listed as being at home. At the time he was employed as an assistant cook at the Rossall Public School in Fleetwood so it`s likely he was living in at the school.

Prior to enlisting Walter had apparently left Rossall School and had taken up a position at the Park Hotel in Preston as a chef. There were two hotels with that name at the time one was in Ashton on Ribble and the other was on East Cliff overlooking Avenham Park in Preston so it is difficult to know which one he might have been employed at.

At some point after the war broke out Walter enlisted and he was allocated the service number 23579. Unfortunately his service record appears to have been lost so information is fairly limited. However, his Medal Index Card shows that he went France at some point after January 1916 so he would have gone with a batch of reinforcements and then later posted to the 10th Battalion.

When he was in France it looks as though Walter put his cookery skills to good use and was acting as a chef for the Battalion Headquarters.

On Easter Monday the 9 April, 1917 the Battle of Arras commenced and the 10th Battalion were heavily involved. By the end of April they had sustained serious losses amounting to 21 Officers and 478 non-commissioned officers and men killed, wounded and missing.

Unfortunately Walter sustained serious wounds on the very first day; he was moved back down the line to a Canadian Hospital in Etaples where sadly he died of his wounds on the 6 May, 1917.

The following article was printed in the Preston Guardian after his family had been informed of his death.


Walter was entitled to the British War and Victory Medals. He was buried with honour in Etaples Military Cemetery in France.

He is also remembered on a couple of war memorials, one in Woodplumpton where he and his family lived for a while and the other in Bilsborrow which is just a few miles away (pictured below).

The Bilsborrow War Memorial is slightly unusual in that the names of the men are on the actual memorial but for each man there is also an individual name plaque on a concrete structure which is located to the side of the memorial.

Helmn3Helmn2**The plaque states Private Walter Helmn of Eaves. Eaves is an area local to Woodplumpton.

Photo taken April 2018

Rank: Private
Service No: 23579
Date of Death: 06/05/1917
Age: 24
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 10th Bn.

Janet Davis
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One Response to 23579 PTE. W. HELMN. L.N.LAN.R

  1. Paul A. G. Helmn. says:

    P.T.E. Walter Helmn was my uncle. I have written an account of his life and many more of my family from 1204, published in a book, ‘A History of the Lancastrian Helmes’, Deposited in the public libraries of Lancashire.

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