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Philip Cunningham WALKER


Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Cpl 45 23y8m 26 Aug 1914 10 Apr 1919 1

Corporal Philip Cunningham Walker (1890 – 1934)

Walker Brothers Booklet

Brothers Leonard and Philip Walker enlisted early in the 1st AIF – Philip in Brisbane in August 1914 in the 3rd Field Ambulance and Leonard the following month in Adelaide in the 10th Infantry Battalion.

Both served on Gallipoli, and although subsequent health problems precluded front line service for them both, they contributed significantly in administrative support roles for the rest of the war.

Family background

Their parents were William John Walker, an insurance manager and Margaret Adelaide née Reid. William was born in London but his parents – John who was an engineer and Anna née Cunningham – emigrated when William and his brother Robert were young.

William worked in several States, and was resident secretary of the Victorian Branch of the AMP Society prior to his passing in 1909. He was survived by his wife Margaret as well as two sons and two daughters.

Daughter Anna Ruth was a talented singer and frequent soloist at Saint Andrew’s Church in the Brisbane CBD, and the wife of Dr Joseph Espie Dods (also listed on the honour boards).

Early life and enlistment

Philip Cunningham Walker was born in Burwood, Sydney on 7 January 1890. Located later in Melbourne because of his father’s employment, Philip attended the Melbourne Grammar School, entering the senior school in 1905 and leaving in 1908.

The following year Philip joined the Brisbane clerical staff of the Australian Mutual Provident Society.

On 26 August 1914, the month in which applications for the 1st AIF commenced, Philip enlisted in Brisbane. He was a big man – weighing a little over 100kg and standing 190.5 cms tall. He had brown hair, grey eyes and a fair complexion, and his religion was Presbyterian.

He was placed as a Private in A Section of the 3rd Field Ambulance. Other early enlistees in the 3rd Field Ambulance on the Saint Andrew’s Honour Boards are Edward Clark, Albert Beech and Ernest Pilcher

Among Philip’s fellow-workers in the AMP Queensland Branch who enlisted later (in different units) and are on the Saint Andrew’s Honour Boards are Eric Solley and Stewart Martin.

The A Section of the 3rd Field Ambulance embarked in Brisbane on HMAT Rangatira A22 on 25 September, and after becoming part of the convoy which left from Albany WA the following month, reached Egypt in December 1914.

Gallipoli

The stretcher-bearers of the 3rd Field Ambulance accompanied the infantry ashore at Gallipoli in the early morning of 25 April 1915. While not certain, Philip was probably in this group.

If so, he would have come ashore off HMAS Ribble at what became known as North Beach, surviving enemy fire and amid the chaos helping to collect wounded from beach areas and nearby hills, taking them to temporary shelters and dressing wounds. That evening the 3rd FA bearers were spread between bringing more wounded down from regimental aid posts and helping evacuate wounded to hospital ships.

In the following days the chaos lessened somewhat – although the conditions remained particularly difficult - and the three field ambulances divided up territory, with the 3rd FA bearers bringing wounded down the hazardous paths of Shrapnel Gully, Monash Valley (aka Death Valley) and White’s Valley to a dressing station.

The physical and mental demands were great and unrelenting. Philip was admitted to hospital on 10 August 1915 and then evacuated to hospital in Wandsworth, England where he underwent an appendectomy and two hernia repairs on 10 September 1915. He was discharged a month later.

Further service

Philip arrived back in Australia on the HMAT Suevic A29 in March 1916. The next month his right hernia re-appeared and it was operated on in June. Evidently he was determined to continue to serve, and embarked for the UK on the HMAT Seang Choon A49 in Melbourne in September 1916.

On arrival back in England, Philip was attached to the AIF Administrative Headquarters in Horseferry Road, London on 20 December 1916. In October of 1917 he was promoted Corporal in the medical section of the Headquarters.

His medical problem had continued, with the right hernia recurring yet again in March 1917, but he managed this by wearing a truss. However, in May 1918 he was admitted to hospital with neurasthenia and after a period of medical leave, returned to duty on 3 July 1918.

In October 1918 Philip marched out for return to Australia and disembarked from the HMAT Marathon A74 in Melbourne on 1 January 1919. Back in Queensland, he was formally discharged on 10 April 1919 as medically unfit due to abdominal adhesions.

Post war

Philip resumed at AMP, and at the time of his death in 1934 ‘was head of the department responsible for all advertising matters in connection with AMP’.

The newspaper obituary also noted that:

 ‘In his spare time Mr Walker devoted most of his attention to gardening’.

It was at the home of a Dods nephew in Kangaroo Point that Philip died on 4 December 1934, aged 44 from chronic nephritis. The certifying medical attendant was Dr A. H. Marks (listed on the honour boards).

The Rev. Norman Millar from Saint Andrew’s Church – where Philip, his brother Leonard and brother-in-law Joseph Espie Dods are all listed on the Honour Boards - conducted the funeral, with Philip’s remains being interred at the South Brisbane Cemetery.


 Select bibliography
• Australian electoral rolls.
• Australian War Memorial – embarkation rolls.
• Melbourne Grammar School archives.
• National Archives of Australia – service record.
• Queensland deaths register.
• South Australian Red Cross Information Bureau 1916-1919 records.
 
• Austin, Sue and Ron. The body snatchers: the history of the 3rd Australian Field 
• Ambulance, 1914-1918 (Slouch Hat Publications, McCrae Victoria, 1995).
• Wilmot RWE ed. Liber Melburniensis, 1858-1914: a history of the Church of England Grammar School, Melbourne (Melbourne, Arbuckle Waddell and Faulkner, 1914).
 
• Brisbane Telegraph. 25 August 1951 p6.
• The Australian Star (Sydney) 8 March 1909 p4.
• The Sydney Morning Herald. 9 March 1909 p6.
• The Telegraph (Brisbane) 5 December 1934 p15.

Written by Ian Carnell AM, Buderim.  January 2017.

 

 

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