Walter Henry Cater

Walter Henry Cater
Walter was born in 1895 at Ashford Middlesex, the only child of John and Lavinia Cater. In 1901 they lived in Chaucer Road, Ashford. John was a spirit merchant.

Walter and his mother were living at Belleville, Tunbridge Wells by 1911. The house is still one of the most prominent in the town, overlooking the Common. Lavinia was employed as housekeeper. Walter's father was living with his cousin Jane in London, working as a self-employed estate agent.

Walter appears on Tunbridge Wells war memorial. So why is he also on the St Ives War Memorial? At some point his parents moved to St Ives, living in Bridge Street. His father returned to the licensed trade, mentioned in the Hunts Post for 5 October 1917 as the new licencee of the Golden Lion Hotel in St Ives.

Enlisted as a private before September 1916, Walter first served with the Queen's Royal West Kent Regiment. Promoted in the field of battle, he was commissioned as a temporary 2nd Lieutenant on 20 September 1916 with the 8th (Pioneer) Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment. Walter survived some of the fiercest fighting on the Western Front, including  the Battle of Passchendaele, one of the bloodiest episodes of WWI.

The National Archives quotes an extract from The London Gazette as follows : "Citation for Military Cross. 2nd Lieutenant Walter Henry Cater, 8th Battalion, The Royal Sussex Regiment, for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty, during an attack near Villers Faucon in the Albert zone." The image below is another from the London Gazette dated 13 September 1918.
The Military Cross is the third level military award (after the Victoria Cross and Distinguished Service Order) given to officers in recognition of acts of exemplary gallantry during active operations against an enemy. Walter was awarded this posthumously. His parents received news that Walter was seriously wounded and lying in a hospital in France, as reported in the Hunts Post on 9 August 1918. He died of injuries on Friday 16 August 1918, aged 23 years. He is buried at St Sever Cemetery, Rouen, France. It's not known if Walter's parents travelled to France to be with him.

Walter's father was to appear in the local court in St Ives in 1918 as the licencee of the Golden Lion Hotel. The charge was failing to keep a register under the Aliens Registration Act. Inspector Gale announced Mr Cater had asked for an adjournment, having just received news his son had died of wounds. The case was withdrawn on payment of costs, as reported on 23 August 1918.

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Source materials
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