Walter Ernest SUMMERFIELD was born in Clifton, in 1892. The birth was registered in Q2 1892 in Rugby, where they lived at 3 Winfield Street, Rugby. Walter was the son of Frederick Charles and Clara Ellen, née Edwards, Summerfield whose marriage was registered in Lutterworth in Q4 1877. His parents had been born Watford, Northamptonshire and Easenhall, Warwickshire respectively.
In 1901, they were still living at 3 Winfield Street, Rugby; Walter was nine years old, and his father was a ‘railway brakesman’. Walter had four elder and one younger brother, and two elder sisters who were all living at home. The two eldest children had been born at Easenhall, their mother’s home village in Warwickshire, the family had then moved to Clifton, in about 1882.
By 1911, Walter was 19 and a ‘Painters Labourer’, possibly working with two of his elder brothers. The family was still living in the same house and his parents had now been married 33 years and had had nine children of whom eight had survived. His father was still a ‘Railway Brakesman’.
He seems to have had an army medical inspection on 13 September 1916, when it was noted that he required dental treatment. He was 5ft 8¾ inches tall. He enlisted at Rugby on 19 October 1916, [although a Casualty Form stated that he ‘rejoined the colours’] with his attestation dated 20 October 1916, initially as Private, No.22028, with the 3rd Bn. Royal Warwickshire Regiment [RWR or RWarR] and stationed at Parkhurst from 20 October 1916 to 8 January 1917.
The 3rd (Reserve) Battalion had been raised in August 1914 in Warwick. As a training unit, it remained in UK throughout the war, but moved to Portsmouth in August 1914, and then to the Isle of Wight, where Walter was based at Parkhurst. Walter was thus on ‘home’ service from 19 October to 7 January 1917, a period of 81 days.
He was posted to join the Expeditionary Force in France and Belgium on 8 January – and was there until 13 March 1917 [65 days]. He was posted to the 16th Bn. RWR on 11 January 1917 when he embarked at Southampton, landing at Le Havre on 12 January. The 16th (Service) Battalion (3rd Birmingham) was formed at Birmingham in September 1914 by the Lord Mayor and a local committee and by 26 December 1915 it had transferred to 15th Brigade, 5th Division.
However, on 26 January 1917, a few days after this posting he was again posted, to 2nd/7th Bn. RWR and allocated a new number, No.20600.
The 2/7th Bn. RWR were formed in Coventry in October 1914 as a second line battalion. They became a part of the 2nd Warwickshire Brigade, 2nd South Midland Division. In August 1915 they were redesignated as the 182nd Brigade, 61st (2nd South Midland) Division and had landed in France on 21 May 1916.
A week or so later, on about 5 February 1917, Walter was charged with ‘Falling out on the march without permission’ and given 14 days of Field Punishment No.2. On 1 March 1917 he was given yet another new number, No.268343.
On 5 March he contracted Diarrhoea in ‘the Field’, and there were complications and by 13 March he was at Rouen, presumably at one of the many hospitals there, suffering from ‘Ent. Bac. Dysentery, Flex’. It seems that he was evacuated back to UK for further treatment, as he was on ‘home service’ from 14 March to 10 June 1917 [89 days].
By 20 May 1917 he was back with the 7th Reserve Bn. RWarR, at Hipswell Camp, Catterick, no doubt awaiting a further posting to France.
He returned to France on 11 June 1917, and next day lost one day’s pay for being ‘deficient of kit’, and was posted to the 1st/8th Bn. Later on 28/29 June he was re-posted to 1st/6th Bn. RWarR.
The Battalion Diary records that in late June the 1/8th Battalion was ‘Training’ at Fremicourt, which is in the Somme area. It received 17 Other Rank reinforcements on 27 or 28 June – one of these was probably Walter. On 30 June, they were relieved by the 7th Shropshire Light Infantry and marched to Gomiecourt. They then marched to Pommier for further training, and on 20 July marched to Halloy, and then on 22 July to Authieule where they entrained – ‘Accomodation will be approximately one Platoon per truck’ – for St Jan-ter-Biezen, in Belgium. Having now had a month’s training, on the night of 30/31 July they marched via Poperinghe, Poperinghe-Elverdinghe Road, and Chemin Militaire, into the Corps Reserve at Camp ‘C’ in Belgium.
In August, a further fortnight’s training followed, with a move of camp on 15 August. The Battalion then moved to Dambre Camp in the St Julian area, and on 16 August ‘Crossed the Iser Canal & moved forward in support to 145 Brigade who attacked East of the Steenbeeke’. This would have been part of the Battle of Langemarck (16 – 18 August 1917).
From 17 to 20 August the Battalion was ‘in support’, and ‘A & B Coys relieved 1/8 RWarW’. On 20 August they were ‘… relieved by the 1/5 & 1/7 RWarR.’ During the four days the Battalion suffered one officer killed and two wounded, with ‘OR Killed 17, Wounded 65, Missing 1’.
Walter was one of those ‘OR Killed’ in that summary, and died on 20 August 1917 [when his overseas service totalled 71 days]. His body was either never found or not later identified. He is remembered on one of the Panels 23 to 28 and 163A of the Tyne Cot Memorial. The Tyne Cot Memorial is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient. Whereas those who died before 16 August 1917 are remembered on the Menin Gate, the United Kingdom servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot. Walter is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby.
On 22 December 1917, Walter’s father, as sole legatee, received £5-1-10d owing to his son, and then a War Gratuity of £3-0-0d on 7 November 1919. On 7 January 1918, his father acknowledged receipt of ‘letters, postcards, cards, & leather pocket book’. On 14 July 1920, Walter’s father was asked if he was still at his address, in order that he could receive Walter’s ‘Plaque and Scroll’. Frederick’s Medal Card and the Medal Roll entry showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal and that his father received Walter’s medals on 28 January 1922.
RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM
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This article on Walter Ernest SUMMERFIELD was researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, June 2017.
 The National Archives, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 48th Division, Piece 2755/2: 1/6 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (1915 Mar – 1917 Oct); also available on www.ancestry.co.uk.