CAPTAIN WILLIAM HOPE WALKER
ROYAL FLYING CORPS
18TH AUGUST 1917 AGE 24
BURIED: LALLAING COMMUNAL CEMETERY, FRANCE
There are only two First World War servicemen buried in Laillang Communal Cemetery and the record states that they are both buried in the same grave. I have come to recognise what this means - they were airmen whose plane crashed and burnt with them inside, making their bodies indistinguishable from each other.
At 08.05 on the morning of 18 August 1917, Second Lieutenant Louis Harel and his observer Captain William Walker, serving with 11 Squadron and flying a Bristol F2b A7191, were shot down by Lieutenant Viktor Schobinger, a victory that gave Schobinger his 3rd 'kill'.
William Hope Walker had been born in Earlston, Berewickshire in 1892. At some point after 1901 his parents emigrated to Canada. Walker enlisted on 14 July 1915 and originally served with the Canadian Infantry before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps.
His mother, Helen J. Sinclair, formerly Walker, chose his inscription. It comes from a very obscure prayer (piece of verse) so obscure that it only appears twice on the Internet, both times in an Australian newspaper in December 1915. It must however have been better known for Mrs Sinclair, living in Canada, to have known of it. I feel that like many emigrants both she and her son must have felt the pull of the mother country following the outbreak of war.
God, who art love, be kind, be kind to all
Thy children, who must hear the sudden call;
Hot from their haste, their hate, their lust, their din,
Must open wide Thy door and enter in.
Cleanse from their feet the stains of dust and wear;
Take from their hearts what is not pure and fair;
For they, Thy children, they have trusted Thee
In death to save. This is their only plea -
"She called, my country called me, and I went" -
With this much, God of love, be Thou content.
PRAYER FOR THOSE KILLED IN BATTLE
Edith A. Talbot, in the 'Christian Guardian'
It may be fairly appalling verse but can you see what Edith Talbot was saying to God? Forgive these young men who are coming straight into your presence from hating and killing people, their justification for their behaviour being, "She called, my country called me, and I went".