WALTON Nathaniel Stockdale 1893 – 1916


14942 Private Nathaniel Stockdale Walton, 8th Battalion, The Border Regiment was killed in action 5 July 1916, aged 23.  He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France[1] and the Witton Park war memorials.

Family Details

Nathaniel Stockdale Walton was born in 1893 [2]at Coundon Grange, the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Walton.  There were at least 4 children, all born at Eldon or Coundon Grange:[3]

  • Sarah bc.1892
  • Nathaniel Stockdale (Nathan) born 1893
  • Thomas bc.1894
  • John W. bc 1900

In 1901, the family lived at Wesley Street, Coundon Grange where 42 years old Thomas worked as a coal miner.[4] By 1911, the family lived at Albion Street, Witton Park.  Thomas was a widower, his wife died in 1902.  He worked as a coal miner (hewer).  Both 17 years old Nathaniel and 16 years old Thomas worked in coal mining.  Sarah, then 19, was recorded as a, “domestic servant” and 9 years old John was presumably still at school.  Later, Thomas senior lived at Broom Park[5] and Hogarth Street, Durham.[6]

Military Details

1 September 1914, aged 21 years 1 month, Nathaniel S. Walton enlisted at Carlisle into the Border Regiment and was allocated the service number 14942. [7] He underwent a medical examination and was considered fit for the Army.  He stood 5’6½” tall, weighed 138 lbs., had a dark complexion, brown eyes and dark brown hair.  His religion was recorded as Church of England.[8]

The Border Regiment Cap Badge

8 April 1915, he was posted to the 3rd Battalion then 15 October 1915 to the 6th Battalion.[9]  He had spent 1 year 44 days at home before being posted to the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force entering the Balkans theatre of war, that is Gallipoli, Turkey.[10]  The 6th (Service) Battalion, the Border Regiment was formed at Carlisle in August 1914 as part of K1, Kitchener’s New Army.  It came under the orders of 33rd Brigade, 11th (Northern) Division.  In 1915, the following units were in the 33rd Brigade:

  • 6th Bn., the Lincolnshire Regiment
  • 6th Bn., the Border Regiment
  • 7th Bn., the South Staffordshire Regiment
  • 9th Bn., the Sherwood Foresters

Embarkation took place at Liverpool from 30 June 1915 and the island of Mudros was reached 10 July.  The Division landed near Lala Baba at Suvla Bay, 6/7 August 1915.[11]

Gallipoli Campaign: Summary

The 8-month campaign in Gallipoli was fought by Commonwealth and French forces in an attempt to force Turkey out of the war, to relieve the deadlock of the western front in France and Belgium and to open a supply route to Russia through the Dardanelles and the Black Sea. 

The naval action in March 1915, failed and “gave the game away” that an Allied attack was imminent.  The Turks assisted by their German advisors prepared defences.  There were 3 main offensives:

  1. 25 April 1915:  The Allies landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula.  The 29th Division at Cape Helles in the south and the Australian and New Zealand Corps north of Gaba Tepe on the west coast, an area soon to be known as Anzac.  The 11th (Northern) Division was not involved. 
  2. 6 and 7 August:  Further landings were made at Suvla Bay, just north of Anzac.   The landing was to be made by the newly formed British IX Corps, initially comprising 2 brigades of the 10th (Irish) Division and the entire 11th (Northern) Division.  Two diversionary attacks took place where the Allies had a foothold on the peninsula – at Helles (the Battle of Krithia Vineyard) and Anzac (the Battle of Lone Pine).  Shortly before 10.00pm, 7 August, the 32nd and 33rd Brigades came ashore on “B Beach” in the first action fought by a New Army unit.  The 34th Brigade had trouble getting off the lighters which had grounded thus could not return to the destroyers to transport reinforcements to the beaches.  The 32nd Brigade was ordered to halt and let the 34th get clear but this order was not received and the men were mixed up.  Despite facing light opposition, the landing at Suvla was mismanaged from the outset and the offensive quickly reached the same stalemate as prevailed on the Anzac and Helles fronts.  After a week of indecision, the British commander at Suvla, Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Stopford was dismissed 15 August and General de Lisle took over.
  3. 21 August:  The climax of the campaign came when simultaneous assaults were launched on all 3 fronts, Hellas, Anzac Cove and Suvla Bay.  However, the difficult terrain and stiff Turkish resistance soon led to the stalemate of trench warfare. 

“Whether at Helles, Suvla or Anzac, the situation was fundamentally the same.  The Turks occupied the high ground and the Allies sat sullenly below them, surviving as best they could and pondering the injustice of their fate.”[12]

From the end of August, no further serious action was fought and the lines remained unchanged.  The peninsula was successfully evacuated in December.  On 19 and 20 December, the 11th Division withdrew from Gallipoli and moved to Imbros.  Evacuation was completed in early January 1916. 

When, on 30 October 1915, Private N.S. Walton entered Gallipoli to join the 6th Battalion, the Border Regiment,[13] he was part of a draft of reinforcements to supplement the battalion after sustaining losses.  There were no major engagements during his time on the peninsula and 7 December 1915, after 54 days, Private N.S. Walton was evacuated from Gallipoli, together with his battalion.[14]

Later research records that between 6 August and 7 December 1915, during its Gallipoli tour, 6/Borders lost 14 Officers and 217 Other Ranks, killed in action or died of wounds.  During Private N.S. Walton’s time at Gallipoli 9 ORs died.[15] 

Private N.S. Walton spent 176 days at home in the UK. [16] He was then posted to the 8th Battalion, the Border Regiment. [17] The 8th (Service) Battalion, the Border Regiment was another battalion of Kitchener’s New Army and came under the orders of the 75th Brigade of the 25th Division.  By 1916, units of the 75 Brigade were:

  • 11th Bn., the Cheshire Regiment
  • 8th Bn., the Border Regiment
  • 8th Bn., the South Lancashire Regiment
  • 2nd Bn., the South Lancashire Regiment
  • 75th Machine Gun Company
  • 75th Trench Mortar Battery        

2 June 1916, Private N.S. Walton was posted to the 8/Borders and sent to France.  The battalion saw action on the Somme.[18]

1 July – 18 November 1916: The Battle of the Somme: an overview [19]

The Battle of the Somme was viewed as a breakthrough battle, as a means of getting through the formidable German trench lines and into a war of movement and decision.  Political considerations and the demands of the French High Command influenced the timing of the battle.  They demanded British diversionary action to occupy the German Army to relieve the hard pressed French troops at Verdun, to the south. 

General Sir Douglas Haig, appointed Commander-in-Chief in December 1915, was responsible for the overall conduct of British Army operations in France and Belgium.  This action was to be the British Army’s first major offensive on the Western Front in 1916 and it was entrusted to General Rawlinson’s Fourth Army to deliver the resounding victory.  The British Army included thousands of citizen volunteers, keen to take part in what was expected to be a great victory.

The main line of assault ran nearly 14 miles from Serre to the north to Maricourt to the south with a diversionary attack at Gommecourt 2 miles further to the north.  The first objective was to establish a new advanced line on the Montauban to Pozieres Ridge.   

A week-long artillery bombardment of the German positions preceded the first day of the attack – 1 July.  Just prior to zero-hour, the storm of British shells increased and merged with huge mine explosions to herald the infantry attack – at 7.30am on a clear midsummer’s morning the British Infantry emerged from their trenches and advanced in extended lines at a slow steady pace over the grassy expanse of a No Man’s Land.  They were met with a hail of machine gun fire and rifle fire from the surviving German defenders.  Accurate German artillery barrages smashed into the infantry in No Man’s Land and the crowded assembly trenches.  The British suffered enormous casualties:

  • Officers killed: 993
  • Other Ranks killed: 18,247
  • Total Killed: 19,240
  • Total casualties (killed, wounded and missing): 57,470

In popular imagination, the Battle of the Somme has become a byword for military disaster.  In the calamitous opening 24 hours the British Army suffered its highest number of casualties in a single day.  The loss of great numbers of men from the same towns and villages had a profound impact on those at home. The first day was an abject failure and the following weeks and months of conflict assumed the nature of wearing-down warfare, a war of attrition, by the end of which both the attackers and defenders were totally exhausted.     

The Battle of the Somme can be broken down into 12 offensive operations:

  • Albert: 1 – 13 July
  • Bazantin Ridge: 14 – 17 July
  • Delville Wood: 15 July – 13 September
  • Pozieres Ridge: 15 July – 3 September
  • Guillemont: 23 July – 3 September
  • Ginchy: 9 September
  • Courcelette: 15 – 22 September
  • Morval: 25 – 28 September
  • Thiepval: 25 – 28 September
  • Le Transloy: 1 – 18 October
  • Ancre Heights: 1 October – 11 November
  • Ancre: 13 – 18 November

Adverse weather conditions i.e. the autumn rains and early winter sleet and snow turned the battlefield into morass of mud.  Such intolerable physical conditions helped to bring to an end Allied offensive operations after four and a half months of slaughter.  The fighting brought no significant breakthrough.  Territorial gain was a strip of land approximately 20 miles wide by 6 miles deep but gained at enormous cost.  British and Commonwealth forces were calculated to have 419,654 casualties, the dead, wounded and missing of which some 131,000 were dead.  French casualties amounted to 204,253.  German casualties were estimated between 450,000 to 600,000.  In the spring of 1917, the German forces fell back to their newly prepared defences, the Hindenburg Line and there were no further significant engagements in the Somme sector until the Germans mounted their major offensive in March 1918.

The Battle of Albert 1 – 13 July 1916:  8th Bn., The Border Regiment

2 July, 75th Brigade received orders to move to Martinsart and was attached to the 32nd Division.  This Division had attacked on 1 July south of Thiepval and made some gains.  On the 3 July, 75th Brigade and 14th Brigade attacked – 14th on the tip of Leipzig Salient and 75th on the left.  There was confusion over the starting time so the attack received little or no artillery support. [20]

The attack was described as follows:[21]

“75th Brigade made a virtually unsupported and inevitably costly and unsuccessful attack in one of the awful piecemeal efforts to hold onto the minor gains made in the Thiepval area on 1 July.”

The rest of the Division relieved the brigades on the night of 3/4 July. Later research records that between 1 and 7 July, 8/Borders lost 4 officers and 153 other ranks, killed in action or died of wounds[22] including Private N.S. Walton.  It is believed that he died between 3 and 5th July, although CWGC and SGW record 5 July 1916 .[23]     

Awards and Medals

Private Nathaniel S. Walton was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the Victory and British War medals.[24]

Medal Roll Card Index


Nathaniel S. Walton’s effects were received initially by his father Thomas then his sister Sarah Bell.[25]  His father Thomas then lived at 7 Hogarth Street, Durham.[26]


14942 Private Nathaniel Stockdale Walton, 8th Battalion, The Border Regiment has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.  The Memorial bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the UK and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave.  Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916.[27]

The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme


In 1901, the Walton family lived at Wesley Street, Coundon Grange and by 1911, when Nathaniel was 17, they lived at Albion Street, Witton Park.  The three males in the family were all involved in coal mining and the only daughter was a domestic servant. Nathaniel attested 1 September 1914 and joined the Border Regiment.  In October 1915, he was one of a draft of reinforcements sent to the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force to Gallipoli, Turkey.  He served there for less than two months when the MEF was evacuated in December.  In June 1916, he was posted to the Somme in France where he lost his life a month later.  Nathaniel’s younger brother served as 26/1329 Private Thomas Walton, 26th Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers.


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.222 Auckland 1893 Q3

[3] Nathaniel S. Walton was one of seven children born to Thomas and Elizabeth (Stockdale), although only four had survived when the 1911 census was taken. His parents were married in 1891 after Thomas had been a boarder with the Stockdale family from Eldon.

[4] 1901 census

[5] Army Form B.111 Next of Kin

[6] Dependant’s Pension card index

[7] Army Form B.111

[8] Description on Enlistment

[9] Statement of the Services

[10] Military History Sheet

[11] https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/border-regiment and http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/order-of-battle-of-divisions/11th-northern-division/

[12] “Gallipoli” 2011 Peter Hart p.390

[13] Roll of Individuals entitled to the 1914-15 Star dated 1 December 1919

[14] Military History Sheet

[15] Officers and Soldiers Died in the Great War

[16] Military History Sheet

[17] Statement of the Services

[18] Military History Sheet

[19] Various sources including http://www.1914-1918.net; Peter Hart “The Somme” 2005; John Keegan “The First World War” 1998

[20] “The Somme Day by Day Account” 1993 Chris McCarthy p.36

[21] https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/border-regiment/

[22] ODGW & SDGW

[23] UK Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects 1901 – 1929 Record No.320410 Note: SDGW & CWGC record 5 July 1916 as the date of death

[24] Medal Roll card index and Rolls dated 1 December 1919 & 27 February 1920

[25] UK Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects 1901 – 1929 Record No.320410 

[26] Dependant’s Pension card index

[27] CWGC