1st Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment).

Born 1893    Died Friday 14 July 1916.  Age 23 years.

Son of James Daisey and Mary Ann Daisey (née Webb) of Church Street, Aldington, Kent. Commemorated on the Menin Gate, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. Panel 12 as shown above, and in The Buffs Book of Life in the Warriors Chapel, Canterbury Cathedral, Kent.

Walter was born at Aldington, and his birth was recorded in the East Ashford, Kent Registration District during the third quarter of 1893.

At the time of the 1901 census, when Walter was 7 years old,  the Daisey family resided at 2 Pattisons Cottages, Aldington,  and his father, 53 year old Brabourne, Kent native James Daisey  was employed as a Shepherd, and was married to 47 year old Devon native Mary Ann Daisey (nee) Webb. Walter had  2 siblings, noted at the time as  2 year old William Daisey, and 11 year old Kate Webb.

When Walter enlisted in the army at Ashford, Kent on Sunday 12 December 1915, ‘For the Duration of the War, he stated that he was employed as a Agricultural Labourer, and that he resided with his parents and brother at Church Lane, Aldington, at which time he was aged 22 years and 130 days. On the day after his enlistment William was placed on the Army Reserve, until being mobilized on Sunday 23 January 1916.

During the requisite army medical examination conducted at Canterbury by a Royal Army Medical Corps Lieutenant, a minor defect was noted, it being that Walter had an overlapping toe which was entered on his medical report findings as a slight defect, but not sufficient as to cause rejection by the army. Walter was recorded on his Medical History Sheet (Army Form B.178) as being five feet seven and a half inches tall, which would mean that he towered over his much shorter brother William. Another significant difference between Walter and William Daisey, was a stark difference with their eyesight; Walter had perfect vision in both eyes, which was definitely not the case with William who, from a child, wore spectacles with very thick lenses to compensate for his very poor vision. During a conversation which the compiler had with William in December 1957, it came to light that he had made numerous attempts to enlist in the army between 1914 and 1918, several of which were following the death of his brother. Incorrectly assuming that he had been rejected due to his small stature, the compiler made a comment along the lines of being surprised that the army had not enlisted him for service in one of the Bantam Battalions, and then learned that it was not due to his height that William had always been rejected by the army, but it was simply because of his poor eyesight, which also later caused him problems when initially seeking employment with the General Post Office. William was the Aldington village postman for several years.

Walter’s history has been the most difficult of the original eighteen locally commemorated Aldington Great War deaths to research. There are several factors which made irrefutable details of his death difficult to establish, including the fact that Walter’s army service records appeared for several years to have been amongst those which were destroyed during a German air raid in the Second World War. Fortunately and wholly unexpectedly, Walter’s service papers were among a number which were located by the staff at the Public Record Office, Kew, approximately nine years after the initial sets of army service papers were released for public view and go some way towards unravel the inconsistencies of Walter’s death and official commemoration by the then Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission.

Following the successful outcome of his army medical examination at Canterbury, Walter was posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) at the Citadel, Western Heights, Dover, Kent to undergo his basic army training.  He then joined the 1st Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) on the Western Front on Thursday 11 May 1916. Whilst serving in France, Walter caught German measles which resulted in him receiving medical attention, and eventually being hospitalized at the No.25 Stationary Hospital, Rouen, Seine-Maritime on Monday 12 June 1916. Following his treatment he was posted to the 6 Infantry Base Depot at Rouen on 22 June 1916. He remained at the 6 I.B.D. until being posted to serve in the 2nd Battalion, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment) on Sunday 9 July 1916.

Because Walter has no known grave, he is numbered amongst the fallen of The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) who are commemorated on panel 12 of the Menin Gate, it being one of four memorials to the Great War missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area that was known during the Great War as the Ypres Salient. Broadly speaking, the Salient stretched from the village of Langemarck (now Langemark) in the north, to the northern edge in Ploegsteert Wood in the south, but due to the vaguaries of war, the Ypres Salient defined area and shape varied throughout the years of the Great War.

On the day of Walter’s death, the 1st Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) was in France on the Somme at the hamlet of Mailly-Maillet. No member of the 1st Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) were recorded as having being killed on Friday 14 July 1916,  so it was assumed that Walter may have died of wounds, which were possibly resultant of an earlier action. According to Walter’s death certificate, however, his cause of death is shown as “Killed in Action,” and the place of death recorded as France. Whilst the compiler has been carrying out other Great War researches over several decades, there has been numerous occasions when ‘flaws’ were revealed in a variety official documentation, including birth, marriage and death certificates. In the case of the latter form of certification it would appear that a not insignificant number of war deaths which occurred at various locations in Belgium, were recorded as having taken place in France, and a staggering number of casualties who are recorded on various forms of documentation as having been killed in action, were officers and other ranks who actually sadly died of wounds, and of course many of their deaths occurring not on the same day of their mortal wounds being inflicted.

Having drawn a total blank with the war diaries, with not a shred of evidence supporting Walter’s death as having occurred whilst serving with the 1st Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) on the Ypres Salient, Walter’s medal entitlement was then checked as perhaps that would help. In some ways checking Walter’s medal entitlement records added to the confusion, recording him as also having been a member of the 8th (Service) Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment), with the added complication of having been attached to the 2nd Battalion, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment), the latter fitting with his service papers details. At last it seemed that the mystery of Walter’s death would be solved. Checking through the 2nd Battalion, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment) war diary for Friday 14 July 1916 revealed that it was engaged in the intense fighting at Mametz Wood on the Somme, France, where it attacked the heavily defended enemy position at Mansell Copse, and incurring 305 casualties of different categories by days end.

It came as no surprise to read that no mention is made of any soldiers, Buffs or otherwise who had been attached, transferred or posted to the battalion prior to that date. It seems strange however that if Walter had been killed on the Somme, France, that he is recorded on the Menin Gate in Belgium as opposed to being commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, along with the other members of The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) who were attached to the 2nd Battalion, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment) when they died, including amongst their number is friends Harry Wood and John Lancaster from Aldington.