Major 1st Leeds Pals

1915: On 6th December Walter Peace arrived in France as a 2nd Lieutenant in the West Yorkshire Regiment, possibly the 18th Battalion. Unfortunately his service records are missing, and I can find no record of him before this date.

1916: The first award of the Military Cross was gazetted:

London Gazette 20th October 1916 Award of Military Cross:

‘Temp. Capt. Walter Peace, W. York. R. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in attack. Although twice wounded in the early morning, he still held on to a portion of our front line trench with a small party of men for the rest of the day, being completely isolated.’ (London Gazette 2015)

1918: On 5th February 1918, along with four other officers and 90 ORs, he joined the Leeds Pals as a captain, 18th Battalion WYR having been disbanded. On their arrival they were greeted by the regimental band and given free beer.

On 27th March 1918 during the great retreat, when most of the battalion was surrounded and only four officers and about forty men avoided death or capture, he had been placed in command of the 10% Composite Company left behind. He was also in charge on 23rd June 1918 when the battalion went into the line, but by then he had, on 7th June, been promoted to major and appointed second in command of the battalion. (War Diary 2015)

During operations in May, when the whole army was fighting to stem the German advance, he was awarded a bar to his Military Cross, though this was not gazetted until September:

London Gazette 13th September 1918 Award of Bar to Military Cross:
Gazette Issue 30901.

‘Bar to M.C. His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to approve the following Award to the undermentioned, in recognition of their gallantry and devotion to duty in the Field. Awarded a Bar to the Military Cross. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When the enemy had penetrated the right flank of his company he brought up two platoons and counter-attacked with success. Although slightly wounded in the head, he remained with his men, and by his example encouraged them to hold on in a critical situation.’ (London Gazette 2015)

On 28th June he was appointed liaison officer for the attack on La Becque Farm, and on 6th October he was acting commanding officer for the battalion, in which capacity he signed off the War Diary for September. This was temporary, as Lieut.Colonel Nutt had been wounded, but in fact, on 21st October, he was replaced by Lieut. Colonel Norton. He still, however, signed off the October War Diary.

In addition to his MC and bar he was also awarded the 1915 Star, the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. After this he once more vanished back into history. (Ancestry 2015)

Researcher: Peter Taylor

Please Note:

  • All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
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