Joseph Day Walton, Private 2752, 1/7th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Killed in action 10th August 1915 in Gallipoli, Turkey, aged 25
Joseph Day Walton, son of William Edward Walton and Olive (nee Day), was born in Macclesfield in June 1890.
He was baptised at St George’s Church on 6th July 1890 and the 1891 census shows Joseph and his parents residing at the home of his maternal grandmother at 99 Mill Street, Macclesfield.
Tragedy struck the young family in April 1891 when Joseph’s mother Olive died. By the time of the 1901 Census however, his father had re-married (to Clara Chutham), and together with half-brothers, Sidney and Wilfred, Joseph was living at 3 Jodrell Street.
In 1911, the family had moved to 30 Bank Street, and Joseph (aged 21), was working as a silk dyer at Mrs Leach’s dye works.
Joseph was a member of the St Peter’s Young Men’s Class for 5 to 6 years, and also the Working Men’s Institute. He played both football and billiards for the club.
In November 1914, Joseph responded to Lord Kitchener’s call for volunteers, by enlisting at the Drill Hall with his local unit, the 7th (Territorial Force) Battalion, Cheshire Regiment.
Following a period of training in various locations in the south if England, the 7th Cheshire’s, as part of 159th Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division, received orders to equip for service in an undisclosed location in the Mediterranean. In July 1915 they sailed from Devonport to Alexandria in Egypt, then onto the island of Lemnos on the 4th August. On the evening of 8th August, they arrived off the coast of Gallipoli and proceeded to make a landing at “C” Beach, Suvla Bay, on the following day.
Despite three frustrating weeks aboard ship, no official word as to their destination, and a sleepless night having sat on deck, patiently awaiting their turn to disembark, the troops of the 159th Brigade were anxious to acquit themselves. Once landed, confusion and doubt set-in as they were hurriedly issued with a vague order to “Attack the Turks”. The brigade was ill-prepared, with little ammunition and no supporting artillery or transport . Additionally, the officers had not been issued with maps prior to their arrival and very little reconnaissance or planning had been carried out. Despite this, three battalions, including the 1/7th Cheshires, were ordered to advance inland towards the high ground. They moved forward through the heavy scrub to a line south of a strongly held position known as Sulajik Farm, where they came under steady fire from the Turkish defenders. By the time darkness had fallen, the units of the 159th had become fragmented, with many men lost behind enemy lines. At 3:00 a.m. on the 10th August, the Brigade (or what was left of it) was ordered to prepare for a dawn attack on the important high ground known as Scimitar Hill. At 6:00 a.m. portions of the 1/7th Cheshires, followed by the 4th Welch, advanced a few hundred yards but were soon pinned down by a stream of enemy fire. Casualties mounted and morale flagged as a further advance at 5:00 p.m. saw a number of men killed, or wounded and left to perish in the scrub, which by now was burning fiercely.
Through poor co-ordination, indecision and incompetence, the fighting ability of the 159th Brigade was effectively ruined within 48 hours of its arrival. The 1/7th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment had lost 18 officers and men confirmed killed, 154 wounded, and 288 missing. Pte. Joseph Day Walton was amongst the latter as his body was never identified and he has no known grave.
Private Walton’s death was reported in the Macclesfield Times on 3 September 1915:
PRIVATE JOSEPH WALTON – Mr and Mrs Walton, 30 Bank Street, have received a letter from Corporal Dodd, 1/7th Cheshire Regiment, carrying the sad news that their son, Private Joseph Walton, has been killed in action. Private Walton’s uncle has also written a letter to his wife to the same effect. Corporal Dodd was in the same section as Private Walton.
Private Walton was 25 years of age and enlisted in the Territorials after the outbreak of war. He was formerly employed at Mrs Leech’s dye-works. He was educated at Crompton Road School and was a prominent member of St Peter’s Reading Room. His father is employed at King Street Mill.
Private Joseph Day Walton has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel Ref. 75 to 77 of the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli, Turkey.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Joseph Day Walton, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
Joseph Day Walton is the half brother of Drummer Sidney Walton, who was killed in action while serving with 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, on the Western Front in April 1917.