Walter Hanaghan, Private 47237, Royal Army Medical Corps
Died of influenza 24th January 1919 at sea on Hospital Ship Valdivia, aged 42
Walter Hanaghan was born on 6 April and baptised at St Alban’s Church, Macclesfield on 30 April 1876, the son of Margaret (nee Doyle) and Patrick Hanaghan, a plasterer’s labourer, both originally from Ireland. In 1881, four-year-old Walter was living at 7 Wellington St, Macclesfield with his parents and siblings James (25), John (23), Thomas (22), Catherine (19), Margaret (15), Peter (13), Mary A (11), Alice (9) and Agnes (7). Ten years later in 1891 the family was living at 10 Water Street.
On 30 September 1899 Walter married Esther Greatarix at St Alban’s Church, Macclesfield, and by 1901 the couple were living at 54 Pinfold Street with their eight-month-old daughter Alice. In 1911 the family had moved to 2 Court, 3 House, Bridge Street, Macclesfield and included children Laurence (8) and Mary Ellen (5); sadly the couple’s first child, Alice, had died.
Walter volunteered for service with the RAMC early in the war and was drafted to France on 15 May 1915. He is listed in the 1918 and 1919 Absent Voters Lists with the home address 22 Chatham Street, Macclesfield.
After being wounded in France, Private Hanaghan was transferred to a hospital ship. He was later transferred to Hospital Ship Valdivia, where he died of influenza at sea in the Mediterranean on 24 January 1919. Private Hanaghan’s death was reported in the Macclesfield Times on 7 March 1919:
BURIED AT SEA – Pte Walter Hanaghan, RAMC, whose relatives live at 22, Chatham St, Macclesfield, died of influenza on January 24 while on a voyage from Marseilles to Alexandria on the Valdivia. He was 43 years of age and connected with St Alban’s Church. After being wounded in France in 1917 he joined a hospital ship, which was torpedoed, and was later transferred to the Valdivia. Pte Hanaghan, of whose good qualities his captain speaks in high terms, was buried at sea.
Private Walter Hanaghan has no known grave and is commemorated on panel ref. 73 of the Hollybrook Memorial, Southampton, England, which includes the names of all those who were lost or buried at sea. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Walter Hanaghan, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
In Macclesfield, Private Walter Hanaghan is commemorated on the Park Green, Town Hall and St Alban’s Church war memorials. Elsewhere, he is named in the first RAMC Book of Remembrance, a copy of which is available to view online.
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births, Marriages
Family History Society of Cheshire: Catholics in Macclesfield CD – Baptism and Marriage indexes
Census (England & Wales): 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911
WWI British Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects (Ancestry)
WWI British Army Medal Rolls Index Cards (Ancestry)
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
RAMC Books of Remembrance
Macclesfield Times: 7 March 1919