One New Zealander, Captain (Capt) Henry John Innes Walker was the only to be identified.

 

On Wednesday 18 April, a burial service for seven British Army soldiers killed in action during World War One took place. One of the soldiers has been identified as Captain (Capt) Henry John Innes Walker (known to his family as Jack), a New Zealand national who served with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. An unknown soldier from the same regiment will also be buried with five unknown soldiers of unknown regiments.

The burials, with full military honours, took place at 10:30 hours on Wednesday 18 April 2018 at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) New Irish Farm Cemetery, Belgium. The service was organised by the MOD’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC) and conducted by The Reverend Stuart Richards CF, Chaplain to the 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

After war was declared in 1914, Capt Walker’s regiment left for the front and he saw active service on the Belgian frontier as part of the Fourth Army Division. Capt Walker was killed during the Second Battle of Ypres on 25 April 1915. He was aged 25.

On 12 April 2016 during a planned archaeological dig in the western side of the village of St Julien, the remains of Capt Walker and the six unknown soldiers were found.

The burial service was attended by members of Capt Walker’s family including great nephews Alistair and Allan Innes-Walker, who travelled from Australasia. Also present was Greg Andrews, New Zealand Ambassador to Belgium and France, and representatives from the British Embassy. 

How was Capt Walker identified?

Following the archaeological dig in April 2016, the JCCC conducted research including cross-referencing of historical records in order to determine these were the remains of Capt Walker. DNA testing of a family member was not required due the artefacts found with the remains. 

The six unknown soldiers being buried at the same time couldn’t be identified as there was either insufficient or no military insignia found with them.

The archaeologist Simon Verdegem and his colleagues who recovered Capt Walker and the six unknown soldiers were also present on the day.

Background information:

Capt Henry John Innes Walker was born on 12 February 1890 in Remuera, New Zealand. Henry (known to his family as Jack) to Henry and Cecilia Walker. 

Henry’s immediate surviving relative is his nephew Michael, who still lives in New Zealand but is unable to travel to the ceremony. Michael’s sons, Alistair and Allan Innes-Walker will be in attendance to pay their respects to their great uncle and represent their father and wider family. 

*Please note that The Royal Warwickshire Regiment became The Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers in 1963, which then became part of The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in 1968.