Corporal Walter Day 13791, 11th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
Died 1st July 1916. Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing
Walter was the fourth oldest of David and Agnes’s ten children. At the time of the 1911 census he was employed as a shepherd, perhaps on the same farm where his father was described as a horseman.
Walter joined the 11th Suffolk’s in September 1914. He enlisted in Cambridge at the same time as William Humphreys, who died on the same day as Walter.
Walter was promoted to the rank of corporal and by the time of the Battle of the Somme he was a member of a trench mortar team.
Walter was awarded a Card of Honour. The Cambridge Independent Press for 28th April 1916 said the following:
Comberton Soldier Honoured. “Coolness and Steadiness while Working Mortars under Shellfire”
“Corporal Walter Day son of Mr and Mrs David Day of Church Cottages Comberton, who joined the army at the commencement of the war, and who has been serving for some time in France, has just been awarded a Card of Honour, as follows:-
Your Brigadier has recommended you for coolness and steadiness while working mortars under shellfire and I hereby award you a Card of Honour.
The card is signed by the General Commanding the Division.”
Unusually there is a record of a postcard sent by Corporal Day in a book entitled, “A Rendezvous with Death.” This book is chiefly made up to letters sent home by Oliver Hopkin of Wilburton. Oliver was in the same Trench Mortar team as Walter and the latter sent a postcard to Oliver’s parents when he was on leave just before the battle:
“Oll is quite well and in the pink of Health and I must say what a nice bright boy he is, in fact I am very fond of him he always has a smile… and always a cheering word for everybody. I have been with Oliver most of the time we have been in France and I think he is nicest fellow I have met. I am quite proud of him.”
Oliver and Walter’s team attacked alongside the 11th Suffolks in Sausage Valley on July 1st. Oliver recorded what happened in a letter to his parents from hospital a few days later.
This is what Oliver wrote about the attack:
“Two minutes before 7:30 we blowed a mine and as soon as that went up the Lads went over line after line. We went over with the second line of Suffolks and took our Guns with us as well. As we got out of the trench I could see lads falling down on my left and right and the Officer said Hopkins we must get there at all cost. I was hoping we should as well for we should have been all right he would have won something that day if all went well with him. We started off and got a little way when one of our chaps got hit and then another and we goes another 100 yards and then I hit my left arm just below the elbow, another in my belly. I called out to my officer and then fell in a shell hole and bandaged myself up the best I could and had a drink of water. There was some more in there with me……..
Our other officer that came from Cambridge got hit by shrapnel the same morning. He was a good chap his name was Ingle from Hills Road. Mr Savage might know him he got hit the same time as Corporal day. They never lived long…”
In another letter Oliver again mentions Walter,
“Corporal Day got hit in the heart by a bit of shrapnel….”
So we have a first-hand account of how this brave man of Comberton died. His body was not found and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, along with his brother Alfred Arthur who died on the same day.