Photographs, family letter and extra information courtesy of Anthony.
Born: 1893, St, Clements, Ipswich.
Died: 5th November 1914; age 21; KiA.
Employed: Messrs. Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies.
Enlistment Location: Warley, Essex; circa 1910.
Walter’s final cavalry training was at Curragh Camp, Curragh, County Kildare, Ireland.
Date of Entry Therein: 17th August 1914.
Rank: Lance Corporal; Service Number: 3227
Regiment: Household Cavalry and Cavalry of the Line, 16th Lancers (The Queens).
Medals Awarded: Victory, British War, 1914 Star + Clasp.
Relatives Notified: Son of Walter & Ellen Topple.
1901 Foxhall Road, Ipswich.
Walter was 7 years old and living with his parents & siblings.
Walter Isaac Topple, 33, an Iron Driller – Iron Foundry, born Ipswich.
Ellen Topple (nee Mansfield), 32, born Ipswich.
Alice Eliza Topple, 9, born Ipswich.
William Isaac Topple, 6, born Ipswich.
Ellen May Topple, 3, born Ipswich.
1911 The Barracks, Woolwich Common, Kent.
Walter was 20 years old, a Soldier ranked Private for the 16th Lancer’s.
16th Lancer’s Diary:
2nd November 1914 9am – Relieved by the Scots Greys and rejoined the Brigade NW of Kemmel remaining till afternoon and finally moved to billets SW of Berthen.
3rd November 1914 10am – Ordered to move at once and relieved the 4thDGs in the trenches about 5pm having marched the last five miles. “A” and “D” Squadrons had to dig new trenches during the night while “C” remained in the old ones.
4th November 1914 Remained in the trenches all day. The Germans shelling from daylight to darkness. three men of “C” Squadron buried but they were dug out.
5th November 1914 Germans began shelling early and “C” Squadron had much the worst off it, their trenches being blown in.
4:30pm – About 4:30pm the shelling stopped so Major Dixon went to see what was happening and found the French on the left retiring, he stopped a few men of the Regiment advanced, trying to stop the other French men, just when he was about level with our left trench he was shot. Sgt. Page of “A” Squadron had also collected some Frenchmen who advanced back about 50 yards and then halted, he went on and was shot. The left of the whole line of the Brigade was thus left open by the French retreating. Major Dixon, Capt. Onslow and 10 men killed. 2nd Lt. R.R. Davis and 13 men wounded.
5:30pm – About 5:30pm Capt. Neave who was in command reported to the Brigade the situation. The Queen’s Bays who were coming to relieve us were compelled to continue our line to the left with their own left swung right back. We were ordered to withdraw but could not owing to the gap we would make.
11pm – About 11pm the 9th Lancers came up and relieved us and we marched back to our horses about 2 miles and then to our billets.
A letter from The Soldiers & Sailors Families Association. Mrs Topple was keen to find out more about her son’s passing:
Jan 26 1915
I have received the answer sooner than I expected, as Lieutenant Isherwood is now in England.
“I didn’t actually know of L/Cpl. Topple, but I can tell you what we were doing. We were holding a ridge between Wychaste and Ploegsteert wood, it’s about 10 miles S.E. of Ypres. We got there in the evening of Nov. 3rd and dug ourselves in all that night, the Germans shelled us all day Nov. 4th, but did practically no damage; they started again as soon as it began to get light on Nov. 5th & kept it up the whole day, with their coalboxes, that is the official title of their big 200lbs. shells, & big high explosive shrapnel & ordinary shrapnel. They had the range exactly. C. squadron suffered the most & had 23, I think is was killed & wounded, my squadron & D. had about 15 each. They stopped shelling us about 4p.m. & made an infantry attack to try & turn us out, which was not successful from their point of view. C. squadron were in the middle, A. on their left & D. on their right, the French were on our left & the 4th Hussars on our right.”
I am very glad to have been able to procure this description of the fight in which your son was killed. It must be a satisfaction to you to know that he died in a fine action and helped to make a success for our army.
Soldiers’ Effects to Walter Topple – father.
Walter is also remembered on the war memorial at Holy Trinity Church, Ipswich, and on the Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies, Orwell Works, war memorial. Now sited at The Museum of East Anglian Life, Stowmarket, Suffolk
Anthony and his wife proudly holding his uncle’s portrait. Anthony’s earliest memory as a child was to visit his Grandmother’s house, where she kept for safe keeping in a draw Walters dress uniform, a much cherished item proudly worn by Walter on ceremonial occasions.