Walter Hanaghan

WALTER HANAGHAN (1876 - 1919)

Private Walter Hanaghan served in The Great War as a member of The Royal Army Medical Corps. The Royal Army Medical Corps was not a fighting force but their members were at the heart of all battles. Walter and his colleagues carried out their duties unarmed as they evacuated casualties from the battlefield, frequently under fire from the enemy. The Corps had a diverse range of units which played different roles in the evacuation of the wounded, providing medical treatment and subsequently rehabilitation. Unfortunately, we do not know which role Walter took during his service.

Walter was born in 1876. The youngest of five children, Walter lived with his Irish parents, Patrick and Margaret, and his siblings at 10, Water Street. At the age of twenty two, during the summer of 1899, building labourer, Walter married local woman, Esther Greterex. The couple went on to have two children Lawrence, born in 1903, and Mary Ellen, born three years later. During 1911, the family was living not far from Walter's parents, at 2 Court, 3 House, Bridge Street in Macclesfield. Ellen predeceased her husband, dying in 1918. We do not know who took charge of their children following the deaths of both parents.

The Medical Rolls Index tells us that Walter joined the Western Front in France on 15 May 1915. We have no record of his attestation or how he came to serve in The Royal Medical Corps. It would appear that Walter survived the War or sustained critical wounds during the last days of fighting, since he listed as having died at sea, on the Hospital Ship Valdivia, on 24 January 1919, aged forty three. We do not know whether Walter was on the Hospital Ship as a patient or as one of the sixty Royal Army Medical Corps staff who cared for the approximately two hundred and fifty military personnel being shipped back to England. It appears Walter has no grave but the sea since he is listed on a panel at the Hollywood Memorial, in Southampton, which bears the names of those who were either lost or buried at sea.

Hospital Ship
Hospital Ship Valdivia in 1915 © peoplescollectionwales.co.uk

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