Topic: Frank Walker (1883-1953)

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On 25 April 1915 Frank Walker was part of the second wave of landings during World War I (1914-1918) at what is now known as Anzac Cove. The story of this Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) recipient has been researched and written by Frank's first cousin twice removed, Trevor Kelly (Australia). Frank was my first cousin thrice removed - Debbie McCauley (2013).

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Frank Walker (1883-1953)

Frank Walker was born on 9 March 1883 at Sandhurst (renamed Bendigo 1891), Victoria, Australia, the fourth of five children to James Cocker and Jane Walker (nee Kelly).

His father, James Cocker Walker, arrived in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia along with his family from Yorkshire, England aboard the ship Prince Albert in December 1852. His mother, Jane Walker (nee Kelly), and her brother Thomas Kelly from County Wicklow, Ireland, departed from England aboard the ship Tornado, arriving in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia in July 1865. James and Jane were married at Sandhurst on 4 November 1873.

Frank became a blacksmith by trade and for five years was a member of the local Bendigo Militia.

On 18 August 1914 at Bendigo, Victoria, Australia, Frank enlisted for World War I (1914-1918) with the 7th Battalion, First A.I.F.

He embarked from Melbourne on 21 October 1914 for Egypt and the Mena Training Camp. The camp was situated ten miles out of Cairo in the shadows of the famous pyramids.

Aerial view, part of Mena camp (Egypt) photograph (c1914)

Aerial view, part of Mena camp (Egypt) photograph (c1914)

On 5 April 1915 Frank embarked from Alexandria for the Gallipoli Campaign. He was part of the second wave of landings on 25 April 1915 at what is now known as Anzac Cove.

Frank was promoted to Corporal on 1 May 1915. Five days later, on 6 May 1915, the 2nd Brigade (including the 7th Battalion) were transferred 20 kilometres south to Cape Helles. They were to assist the British forces during the Second Battle for Krythia (or Krithia) on 6-8 May 1915. The 7th Battalion suffered heavy casualties as a result of this battle.

Six days after the battle, on 14 May 1915, Frank wrote to Mary - Dear Mary, I suppose you are anxious on my account after reading the papers of the doings by Australians here. I've had a strenuous time of it and hope the worst is over. You will know by the papers who have fallen much better than I've heard here. W. Hamilton is still going strong, but haven't seen anything of Frank Pool for two (?) days. Am feeling A. I. at present & hope all at home are the same. I sent you a Turkish sword by a middy & hope you receive it, its rather a stumpery(?) affair but has a bit of a history. No more at present as this is all the writing tablet I possess at present. Love to all from Frank. F Pool has been wounded in left leg - pass on to all friends.

Marchands d'oranges postcard. Frank to Mary Walker (14 May 1915)

Marchands d'oranges postcard. Frank to Mary Walker (14 May 1915)

The following month, on 6 June 1915, Frank was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. On 15 June 1915 he wrote the following postcard to his sister Mary from Lemnos Island in Greece - Just a card to let you know I'm well & at present having a short spell away from the scene of operations, but of course we can occassionally hear the heavy bombardment near the narrows. Received a letter from you 1st June. Hope mother is on the mend and also yourself & Jack are well. Love to all from your affect brother, Frank: 

Alexandria (Egypt) postcard from Frank to Mary Walker (15 June 1915)

Alexandria (Egypt) postcard from Frank to Mary Walker (15 June 1915)

On 12 July 1915 Frank was admitted to No. 2 Australian Station Hospital at Mudros on the Island of Lemnos. Like many of his comrades, the trauma of battle led to a diagnosis of neurasthenia, otherwise known as 'shell shock'. He was discharged later in the month, on 24 July 1915, then transferred to the 24th Casualty Clearing Station at Mudros suffering from diarrhoea. On 31 July 1915 he was finally discharged and rejoined the 7th battalion on 2nd August on the Gallipoli Peninsular.

In August of 1915 the 7th battalion saw action at the Battle of Lone Pine. They were sent forward to relieve and consolidate the earlier successes of the First Brigade at the height of the Turkish counter attacks. The 7th Battalion remained  on the Gallipoli peninsular until the Mediterranean Expeditionary Forces, under the command of the British War Cabinet, were ordered evacuated in December of 1915.

Returning to Alexandria in Egypt on 7 January 1916, Frank and his battalion were encamped at Tel El Kabir.

On 24 February 1916 Frank was transferred to the 59th Battalion, A.I.F. 5th Division. The following month, on 8 March 1916, he was transferred to the 15th Brigade Machine Gun Company, A.I.F. 5th Division.

Another promotion on 13 May 1916 saw Frank upgraded to Company Quarter Master Sergeant.

On 16 June 1916 Frank's company, along with the A.I.F. 5th Division, embarked from Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Forces in Europe. They arrived in Marseilles, Southern France on 24 June 1916. By 19 July 1916 they saw action at the Battle of Fromelles in Northern France.

On 27 October 1916 Frank wrote to his sister Mary - It is raining like mad and the mud is not inches deep, but feet. A couple of mules got stuck in it today and had to be shot. Had a nice letter from Mr Lee yesterday and he wished to be remb to you all, may not be able to write you for a week or two as we are likely to be busy. Can't tell you where we are but things are moving some, perhaps you can guess. Love to Jack & yourself from you affect brother, Frank:

Boulogne-sur-Mer, le Paquebot de Folkestone accostant à son arrivée d'angleterre postcard. Frank to Mary Walker from France (27 October 1916)

Boulogne-sur-Mer, le Paquebot de Folkestone accostant à son arrivée d'angleterre postcard. Frank to Mary Walker from France (27 October 1916)

The battalion remained at the Western Front, being rotated in and out of the front line trenches and enduring the harshest of winters in 1916/17. On 20 February 1917 Frank wrote to his sister Mary from France - Dear Mary, This is only a sample of many one time fine churches, now heaps of ruins. The most perculiar feature of this wreck by shellfire is the figure of Virgin & Child inclining at a most dangerous angle over the...

La basilique Notre-Dame de Brebières d'Albert (Somme) postcard from Frank to Mary Walker (20 February 1917) (page 1 of 2)

La basilique Notre-Dame de Brebières d'Albert (Somme) postcard from Frank to Mary Walker (20 February 1917) (page 1 of 2)

footway, have often viewed this scene of desolation. Hope you are all well, also Inglewood folk. Geo Kelly [brother of Alicia Mary Kelly] is here somewhere, so Loll [Alicia Mary Kelly] says in her last letter. She has just recovered a severe cold. Am A.I. myself although the weather is so cold. Love to all, Frank:

La basilique Notre-Dame de Brebières d'Albert (Somme) postcard from Frank to Mary Walker (20 February 1917) (page 2 of 2)

La basilique Notre-Dame de Brebières d'Albert (Somme) postcard from Frank to Mary Walker (20 February 1917) (page 2 of 2)

Months later, on 7 September 1917, Frank was detached for duty with the Permanent Cadre at the Machine Gun Training Depot in Belton Park, Grantham, England.

Frank was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) on 1 January 1918 for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty, taking part in several engagements, and at all times setting a fine example of courage and determination. The DCM is an extremely high level award for bravery. 

On 15 January 1918 Frank wrote Mary - Dear Mary, Just a card to say I'm well and hope Jack & yourself are the same. The weather is awfully cold at present & can expect two more months of it yet. Have had nothing official about the D.M.C. as yet. Had a line from Loll [Alicia Mary Kelly] yesterday. She sends her love. She is a little better. Had letters from your also, yesterday, but no Xmas parcel yet. Love from Frank:

The Old Cross, Market Place, Grantham postcard. Frank to Mary Walker (15 January 1918)

The Old Cross, Market Place, Grantham postcard. Frank to Mary Walker (15 January 1918)

On 11 March 1918 Frank wrote to his sister Mary from Grantham military camp: This is a general view of some of  The deer park is over to the right. Hope both Jack & yourself are well. Rem one to all friends. Love from Frank: 

Grantham military camps postcard. From Frank to Mary Walker (11 March 1918)

Grantham military camps postcard. From Frank to Mary Walker (11 March 1918)

On 1 April 1918 Frank found himself heading off to Camiers, the base depot of the Machine Gun Corps in Northern France. He was once again headed for the Western Front, joining the 5th Machine Gun Battalion.

Later that month, on 22 April 1918, Frank send a postcard to his sister Mary from Le Chateau Fouilloy (Somme) France. In it he said, 'Just a card to say I’m well, etc. Things are rather lively about these parts. Hope Jack and self are well. Had a letter from Loll. [Alicia Mary Kelly] from Southall Hosp. Near London. She expects to leave for Australia any day now. Love to Jack and self. The guns are going some tonight. Frank:

Postcard from Frank Walker to Mary Walker: Le Chateau Fouilloy (Somme) France (22 April 1918) (back)

Postcard from Frank Walker to Mary Walker: Le Chateau Fouilloy (Somme) France (22 April 1918)

Finally, seven months later, on 8 November 1918, Frank embarked from Le Havre, France for England and the prospect of home. On 4 December 1918 Frank embarked for Australia from Plymouth, England aboard the Somerset. He arrived in Melbourne on 15 January 1919 and was discharged from duty at his own request on 25 March 1919. His service record states that he was suffering from T.B.

Upon Frank's return to Australia he settled upon land on the Northern outskirts of his home town of Bendigo, Victoria.

On 25 April 1919, Eva Tonkin wrote to Frank's sister Mary to invite her to Frank's medal presentation - My dear Mary, We were wondering of you would like to come to Melb as Frank is having his medal presented, you know you are welcome Mary anytime - your bed is empty, as Meg has left us. She is living with her cousin now until she fets tired of it - of course we would love to have you and Jack. With love from my friend Eva Tonkin

VENEZIA - Canal Grande preso dalle Arcate del Fondaco dei Turchi e Palazzo Vendramin postcard. Eva Tonkin inviting Mary Walker to Frank's medal presentation (25 April 1919)

VENEZIA - Canal Grande preso dalle Arcate del Fondaco dei Turchi e Palazzo Vendramin postcard. Eva Tonkin inviting Mary Walker to Frank's medal presentation (25 April 1919)

Six years later, on 8 August 1925 Frank married long-time family friend Eva Fanny Tonkin (2 May 1883-16 June 1951). They were married at her parent’s residence; Morven, 7 Sydney St., Armadale, Melbourne. They had no children.

In 1943 Frank was forced to retire from the land due to ill health. He returned to the family home at 128 Moran St., Bendigo, Victoria.

Frank passed away on 8 April 1953. He was held in high esteem and remembered as being of a quiet and retiring nature.

 

Sources:

Ancestry.com

Australian War Memorial

Mary Walker Album: Containing Bendigo Advertiser paper clippings & The Melbourne Argus paper clippings

Public Records Office of Victoria

Wikipedia

World War 1 service records

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A version of this article was archived in August 2016 at Perma CC https://perma.cc/ZL56-SYQD.

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Frank Walker (1883-1953)


Year:1915
Note:Service Number: 56
First Names:Frank
Last Name:Walker
Date of Birth:9 March 1883
Place of Birth:Sandhurst, Victoria
Country of birth:Australia
Date of death:8 April 1953
Place of death:Australia
Place of burial:Australia
Occupation:Blacksmith, Farmer, and Soldier
Spouses name:Eva Fanny Tonkin
Spouses date of birth:2 May 1883
Spouses date of death:16 June 1951
Spouses place of death:Australia
Spouses place of burial:Australia
Date of marriage:8 August 1925
Place of marriage:Armadale, Melbourne, Australia
Fathers name:James Cocker Walker
Fathers date of birth:1841
Fathers place of birth:Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England
Fathers date of death:30 March 1893
Fathers place of death:Bendigo, Victoria, Australia
Fathers nationality:English
Mothers name:Jane Kelly
Mothers date of birth:4 May 1846
Mothers place of birth:Ballinastoe, County Wicklow, Ireland
Mothers date of death:29 January 1916
Mothers place of death:128 Moran Street, Bendigo, Victoria, Australia
Mothers nationality:Irish
Name of sibilings:Mary Jane Walker and John Walker
Military Service:World War I (1914-1918)