Paul Walker first sent me his research on his father and Uncle’s service a couple of years ago and before I begin this blog entry I’d just like to say thanks to Paul for his patience! All photos via Paul Walker.
The four Walker brothers were from Carlton, Nottingham. Frank Walker, Frederick George Walker (Paul’s father), Herbert Walker and John William (Bill) Walker.
Frederick, or George as he was known, was born in 1917. A butcher when the war started, he was drafted to the army in January 1940, having initially preferred to volunteer for the RAF. He was posted to C Company 7th Devons. When the regiment converted to 87th Anti-Tank Regiment, 5624693 George Walker became part of 132 Battery and qualified as a driver/mechanic.
George and Herbert joined 7th Devons, while Bill went to the Royal Army Ordnance Corps. Frank was employed in a reserved occupation, working as a joiner on aerodromes but later volunteered for service and joined the Royal Army Service Corps, participating in the Sicily landings.
Bill wanted to join his brothers and George exercised his right, as the older serving brother, to request his younger brother join him, which he did in February 1942. George, Herbert and Bill stayed with 87th until its disbandment in late June 1944. They then spent 8 months in Italy with 81st Anti-Tank regiment, almost certainly arriving as replacements in a unit that had “lost half its strength” and was ultimately withdrawn to Palestine, where it too was disbanded. The trio then transferred to 93rd Anti-Tank Regiment “The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders” in February 1945. George was transferred to the reserve and demobbed in May 1946. Bill was also demobbed the same month.
George’s service is remembered through Paul and anecdotes from Freddie Friend and Joe Stainforth, who in 2006 gave Paul some insights into one of the small misdemeanours that feature on George’s exemplary service record. Joe Stainforth, George Walker and Herbert Walker had all joined the regiment at the same time and travelled down to Devon from Nottingham together:
“In 1941 my father’s War Record shows that he was absent without leave, however Joe had also been with George on this occasion. George had borrowed a car from Sergeant Major Vine; he was the Company Sergeant Major of C. Company. George asked Joe if he would like to come back to Nottingham for the day. The set off early on the 20/4/41 and did not return till 21/4/41. On the way back the car broke down, they had to hitchhike back to barracks; they lost one day’s pay.”
George’s brother Bill remembered another incident in Tunisia. He recounted this story to Paul on the day of George’s funeral. Paul remembers Bill turning to him:
“In Africa, George and I sat on the side of a hill, overlooking a company of British Tanks, at that moment we heard the roar of engines in the sky, it was an American Bomber squadron. They flew over and then came around.” I said to George “Quick get in this ditch.” He stopped talking, it seemed forever, then I saw a tear in Bill’s eye, he spoke once more saying. “We looked on as the American Bomber’s destroyed the British Tank’s, we could do nothing.”
“I don’t know why Bill told me this, I suppose it’s one of those war stories people just don’t get to know. Maybe Bill was thinking of the soldiers that died, that too was a sad day.” Said Paul.
George’s service record contains the following demob tribute, presumably from his last commanding officer:
“A cheerful hardworking man who is absolutely trustworthy & reliable. He is a skilled driver with a good knowledge of engines and has a definite flair for manual dexterity”.