Joseph Walker (1868-)
Guard at Stanhope prisoner of war camp
Although his army pension record names Sarah Walker as his next of kin, they might not have been married. Joseph Walker’s record doesn’t state where he married Sarah Emma Boden, just notes that she is his “dependant”. 1901 census shows Sarah Boden as a “servant” in the household, whereas the 1911 census states that she is his wife.
Joseph appears to have attested twice during the First World War. His Army Service Record shows that he first tried to join the army on 14 April 1915, claiming to be aged 44 years. He served with the Army Service Corps until 15 November 1915, when he was discharged as “unlikely to become an efficient soldier”.
Joseph then seems to have re-enlisted with the Royal Defence Corps on 2 September 1916. He briefly served with the 200th and 159th Protection Companies and then was transferred to 160th on 27 October 1916. Apart from a short spell at Catterick (28 February 1918-24 May 1918), he served with the 160th at Stanhope until 18 July 1918. It seems as if 160th Company was stationed at Stanhope in order to guard the prisoners at Newlandside Camp. They may also have been at Harperley Camp.
Joseph’s health seems to have deteriorated while at Stanhope and a medical report from Northumberland War Hospital, Gosforth states:
“He was admitted here on 1st June 1918 for mental observation and disposal, his CO [commanding officer] stating ‘he cannot be trusted with arms and he has to be watched as I do not think he is responsible for his actions; he is a source of trouble to the guards of the camp.'”
The report also notes that Joseph’s condition was “aggravated by strain of ordinary military service” and in answer to the question “what is his present condition?” the report records:
“He is childish, facile and indifferent to his position. His tendency to mental breakdown renders him unfit for military service.”
He was diagnosed with permanent “dementia”. (PIN 26/15170, on Findmypast)
Heaton History Group website, Newcastle war hospitals (including Northumberland War Hospital):
Civil Parish: Stanhope Urban
Birth date: 1868
Armed force/civilian: Army
Residence: 2 Richard Court, Saint George in the East, Stepney, London (1901 census)
44 Charles Square, Hoxton, London (1911 census)
11 Kemp [Camp] Street, Hoxton, London (1915 army pension record)
76 Herbert Street, New North Road, Hoxton (1916 army pension record)
Employment: Sign writer and house decorator (1911 census)
Family: Wife: Sarah Emma Walker nee Boden
Children: Emily Walker, Alice Walker (1901 census) Miriam Walker, Mary Walker, Louisa Walker, Ellen Walker, Rosina Walker, Florence Walker (1911 census), Joseph Henry Walker, David Sidney Walker (Pension Record)
Army Service Corps
Royal Defence Corps
160 Protection Company
2 September 1916-18 July 1918
Contributed by Durham County Record Office
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