One hundred years ago today: a WWI death confirmed

From the Framlingham Weekly News, 28 April, 1917:

The death announced in our last issue of 2nd-Lieut. H.G.Walne, second son of Mr and Mrs Walne, Kettleburgh Hall [my Great Great Uncle], is officially confirmed. We are indebted to the bereaved parents for the following particulars of his career :- After finishing his education, Mr Walne entered the Ipswich engineering firm of Messrs E R and F Turner, in whose service he remained until his Regiment, the Suffolk Yeomanry, which he joined some years previously, was mobilised at the outbreak of war. After just over a year’s training at home, the Regiment was sent to Gallipoli, on the evacuation of which they were moved to Egypt. His time expiring while out there in April 1916, he returned home, and after a month’s holiday he rejoined and was sent to a Cadet Battalion in Scotland. Soon gaining a Commission, he was posted to the Suffolk Regiment and reached France in the following October.

The following letters concerning him have been received from his CO and a brother officer :-


April 15th

Dear Mr Walne, – I regret to have to inform you of the death of your son in action on the 11th. He was killed instantaneously by shell fire. I can only say how grieved I am to lose one of my best officers. He was a very gallant officer and had he lived I would have had him promoted to command a Company. On behalf of all my officers I offer you and your wife my deepest sympathy. – Yours faithfully, G C STUBBS, Lieut-Colonel

April 15th

Dear Sir, – It is my misfortune to have to tell you that your son, 2nd-Lieut H G Walne, was killed in action on 11th April. While the Battalion were assembling for an attack, the enemy opened fire and your son was struck by a shell and killed at once. I will let you know the exact spot where he is buried as soon as I am allowed to do so. He was one of the bravest and most lovable men I have ever met. I don’t believe he knew what fear meant. Shells never seemed to have the slightest effect on him, and we always used to look on his as a fire-eater. At the same time he was a most excellent officer and most reliable. Apart from work I can honestly say that there was and is no one in the Battalion that I liked better. I was very fond of him indeed and miss him very much. I think what made us all like him so much was his quiet, unassuming way. A few days ago he showed he a photograph of himself taken with you and his brothers. If you have a copy that you can spare, I shall be very proud to have it, and some day I hope I shall be able to come and see you and tell you anything more that I can. Please ask me anything you wish to know. The officers and men of the Company join me in asking you to accept our sincerest sympathy – Yours faithfully, C B N.

NB – I believe the photograph mentioned in the second letter is one which remains in the family, and one which is also part of the Kettleburgh photograph survey held at Suffolk Record Office. I reproduce it here – an image many who have attended my talks and workshops, or who have read our First World War research guide will recognise.

Walne boys Kettleburgh
L-R Horace, Leonard, Henry (Harry), and Henry (Harry) Walne. Kettleburgh Hall.


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