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Walter Nelson was born in Lostock Hall in August 1877 and baptised at Farington St Paul’s on 23 September. His father was John Nelson (b. 1841 in Farington), a blower in a cotton mill. His mother was Maria Standing (b. 1838 in Blackburn). It seems Maria already had a son, Thomas (b. 1864), when she and John were married in 1869, and the couple had 5 children: Mary (b. 1868), James (b. 1871), Alice (b. 1874), then Walter, and finally John (b. 1880). Walter lived in Lostock Hall for the first few years of his life but I haven’t found him in the 1891 Census, but in 1899 he married Eliza Brown (b. 1879 in Preston). The couple were married at Preston St Thomas and by 1911 they had had five children, though two died in infancy. The survivors were: Elsie (b. 1904), Edith (b. 1907) and Walter (b. 1909); and the couple had two more children after the Census: Hilda (b. 1911) and Albert (b. 1914). The family lived at 12 Egbert Street, Preston, and Walter worked as an iron moulder.

Walter was 37 years old, and his youngest child was just 2 months old, when he enlisted on 3 September 1914. He was 5’ 5½” tall and weighed 121lbs. He was assigned service number 3745 and posted to 1st Battalion, the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.

1Bn L.N.LAN.R. came under orders of 2nd Brigade in 1st Division. They landed at Le Havre on 13 August 1914 and were engaged in the battle and subsequent retreat from Mons, then in September at the Battles of the Marne and the Aisne. In September and October 1914, 1Bn had already had 271 officers and men killed, including 69 killed during the First Battle of Ypres, when on 31 October Divisional headquarters near Hooge were hit by enemy shellfire.

Walter was among reinforcements who joined the Battalion in the field on 29 November. At the time, the Bn was in billets near Hazebrouk, but on 21 December, they were suddenly recalled to the front and moved south towards Givenchy. The action is explained here.

89 officers and men from 1Bn lost their lives in the German attack at Givenchy, including Walter Nelson, who was 37 years old and left a wife and five young children.

Rank: Private
Service Number: 3745
Date of Death: 22/12/1914
Age: 37 (CWGC says 38)
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st Bn.
Cemetery/memorial reference: Panel 27 and 28.

Bill Brierley
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