Lieutenant, Fort Garry Horse
Born: May 29th 1878
Died: September 14th 1916
Age at Death: 38
Killed in action, France, September 14th 1916
Son of Rev. C.B. Bartlett of 2 Denmark Terrace, Brighton. Brother to Charles E. Bartlett (BC reg. 2435).
St John's College, Cambridge.
Emigrated to Canada.
A donation to the memorial statue has been made in honour of this soldier by the Brewer Family.
William Henry Bartlett (Hampden House 1888-1896)
Walter Henry Bartlett was born in Croydon on the 29th May 1879. He was the second son and third child (of nine) of Charles Bartlett and his wife Mary Ann (nee Eastty). His father was initially a banker but subsequently took holy orders and became the vicar of All Saints, Brighton. Although there is not much record of his time at the school he was evidently an academic success because in 1896 he went up to St. John’s College, Cambridge to read Law but, possibly owing to financial problems, he left before taking his degree. After leaving Cambridge he was article to a firm of Solicitors in Brighton but then his career track goes cold but it is clear that by 1911 he had changed career and emigrated to Canada where served as a Civil Engineer with the Manitoba Hydrographical Survey Board. While in Canada he was also heavily involved in the Scout movement, winning Silver Wolf Medal for his services to the movement as Provincial Secretary to the Boy Scouts in Manitoba.
Bartlett enlisted in the Fort Garry Horse in May 1915 before transferring to the Canadian Infantry. He departed for Europe on the SS Olympic (sister ship to the Titanic) on 2nd April 1916 and was posted to the 27th Battalion, which formed part of the 2nd Canadian Division, on 7th July 1916. His first action was the Battle of Flers-Courcelette in September 1916, one of many battles forming part of the general Somme Offensive and notable in military history for being the first occasion in which tanks were used in action. However on the evening of September 14th 1916, the day before the battalion was due to attack Bartlett lost his life, the report of his death states tersely:
'This officer was killed while crawling from the front line to the “jumping off” trench prior to the attack. He only lived for one minute after being hit and was unable to speak’
By this stage in the Somme campaign the BEF was experimenting with more innovative tactics, one of which was to try and infiltrate close to the enemy lines during the night before an attack so that when the attack was actually launched there was less opportunity to be hit. However it is clear from the way in which Bartlett was killed before the battle had even begun that this ploy also involved dangers. In any event he as not alone in his Battalion which lost 394 casualties out of strength of 1000 in the period from 14 September when it moved up and 17 September when it was pulled out of the line following the attack.
Walter Bartlett has no known grave but his name is commemorated, along with the names of 11,000 other Canadians, on the Vimy Memorial, France. The Memorial Cross sent to his family on his death is now in the Brighton College Archive.
Source: LEST WE FORGET Project, Brighton College 2014-15