227047 YEO.SIG. W. J. WALKER. R.N.

 

Wilfred Joseph Walker was born on 15 November 1887 in Bamber Bridge.  His father was John Walker (b. 1855 in Bamber Bridge), a cotton weaver.  His mother was Mary Walker (maiden name not known) (b. 1858 in Samlesbury).  John and Mary were married probably in 1878 or 1879, and they had four children: Elizabeth (b. 1880), Mary Jane (b. 1881), Margaret Ellen (b. 1885) and Wilfred.  It appears that John died in 1895, and Mary died in 1893.  So in 1901, the children were living at 38 Brandiforth Street and all working as weavers in the mill across the road.  In 1903, however, Wilfred signed up for 12 years in the Navy.  In 1910 Wilfred married – his wife’s name was Lily Mary Warren but I haven’t found any records for her.

 

At the outbreak of War, Wilfred had achieved the rank of Yeoman of Signals (petty officer rank) and was serving aboard HMS Monmouth.  Monmouth was one of two British armoured cruisers sunk by the German East Asia Squadron at the Battle of Coronel on 1 November 1914.  According to Wikipedia:

The Battle of Coronel was a First World War Imperial German Naval victory over the Royal Navy on 1 November 1914, off the coast of central Chile near the city of Coronel. The East Asia Squadron (Ostasiengeschwader or Kreuzergeschwader) of the Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial German Navy) led by Vice-Admiral Graf Maximilian von Spee met and defeated the British West Indies Squadron commanded by Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock.

The engagement probably took place as a result of misunderstandings. Neither admiral expected to meet the other in full force. Once the two met, Cradock understood his orders were to fight to the end, despite the odds heavily against him. Although Spee had an easy victory, destroying two enemy armoured cruisers for just three men injured, the engagement also cost him almost half his supply of ammunition, which was irreplaceable. Shock at the British losses led the Admiralty to send more ships including two modern battlecruisers, which in turn destroyed Spee and the majority of his squadron on 8 December at the Battle of the Falkland Islands.

HMS Monmouth had a crew of 738 – there were no survivors.  Wilfred was 26 years old.

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