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Walter Cattle

Walter Vernon Cattle was born in the third quarter of 1897 and his birth was registered in Malton. He was the seventh son of George Simpkin and Mary (nee Collinson) Cattle who married in the Malton area in the last quarter of 1882 and had at least 15 children.

In 1901 George and Mary were living with eleven of their children at 28 Newbiggin where they had moved to some four years before from No. 26.  They seem to have been prosperous enough to have a maid-of-all-work living in together with a nurse to help with the new baby.

1901 census – resident at 28 Newbiggin

CATTLE, George S, Head, Married, M, 44, Clerk Board Of Guardians Urban & Rural District Councils &c And Superintendent Registrar, Birdsall Yorkshire,
CATTLE, Mary, Wife, Married, F, 41, , Rillington Yorkshire,
CATTLE, John B, Son, Single, M, 17, Clerk Gas Co's Office, Malton Yorkshire,
CATTLE, Violet, Daughter, Single, F, 15, , Malton Yorkshire,
CATTLE, Frank, Son, Single, M, 13, , Malton Yorkshire,
CATTLE, William, Son, Single, M, 11, , Malton Yorkshire,
CATTLE, Lily, Daughter, , F, 10, , Malton Yorkshire,
CATTLE, Rose, Daughter, , F, 9, , Malton Yorkshire,
CATTLE, George S jr, Son, , M, 8, , Malton Yorkshire,
CATTLE, Horace, Son, , M, 7, , Malton Yorkshire,
CATTLE, Walter, Son, , M, 3, , Malton Yorkshire,
CATTLE, Clarice M, Daughter, , F, 2, , Malton Yorkshire,
CATTLE, Edith M, Daughter, , F, 0 (1 MOS), , Malton Yorkshire,
DUNNINGTON, Elizabeth, Servant, Single, F, 32, General Servant (Domestic), Stamford Bridge Yorkshire,
PARKER, Florence M, Servant, Single, F, 19, Nurse (Domestic), York Yorkshire,

By 1911 they had had two more children though four of the older ones had left home, and another had returned. Walter and several of his younger siblings were still at school.

1911 census – resident at 28 Newbiggin

CATTLE, George Simpkin, Head, Married, M, 54, Clerk To Board Of Guardians etc, Malton Union, Yorks E R Birdsall,
CATTLE, Mary, Wife, Married 28 years, F, 51, , Yorks E R Rillington,
CATTLE, Thomas Simpkin, Son, Single, M, 28, Bank Clerk, Yorks E R Norton,
CATTLE, Violet, Daughter, Single, F, 25, , Yorks E R Malton,
CATTLE, Lily, Daughter, Single, F, 20, , Yorks E R Malton,
CATTLE, Rose, Daughter, Single, F, 19, Milliner, Yorks E R Malton,
CATTLE, George Simpkin, Son, Single, M, 18, Poor Law Clerks Asst., In office of Clerk to Guardians, Yorks E R Malton,
CATTLE, Walter Vernon, Son, , M, 13, School, Yorks E R Malton,
CATTLE, Clarice Mary, Daughter, , F, 12, School, Yorks E R Malton,
CATTLE, Edith Maud, Daughter, , F, 10, School, Yorks E R Malton,
CATTLE, Raymond, Son, , M, 7, , Yorks E R Malton,
CATTLE, Colin, Son, , M, 5, , Yorks E R Malton,
BOYES, Mary, Servant, Single, F, 18, General Servant Domestic, Yorks E R Amotherby,

 The Cattle family were members of the Malton Methodist church in Saville Street, and Walter is also commemorated on the War Memorial there as well as at St leonar’s.

Walter enlisted at Malton in the 9th Battalion of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles). The 9th (Service) Battalion was formed at Hamilton in August 1914 as part of K1 and came under orders of 28th Brigade in 9th (Scottish) Division. They moved to Bordon and in May 1915 landed at Boulogne. In 1915 they fought at Loos and on 6 May 1916 were transferred to 27th Brigade in same Division seeing action on the Somme at the Battles of Albert, Bazentin in which the Division captured Longueval, Delville Wood and  Le Transloy. In 1917 they were involved in battles at Arras, Passchendaele and Cambrai and on 5 February 1918 were transferred to 43rd Brigade in 14th (Light) Division. The Battle of St Quentin took place in late March when the German attack wrought havoc with the tiring and demoralised Allied troops  and was followed by the Battle of the Avre, 4 April 1918: the German drive for Amiens.

On the evening of 28 March the costly German assaults on Arras were abandoned. Frustrated by obstinate British defence Ludendorff now fixed his attention on preparations for a major attack in Flanders whilst still hoping to snatch some notable strategic prize from the failing ‘Michael’ operations. Amiens became his immediate goal and the ensuing battle of the Avre marked the beginning of the end for his March Offensive.

Preliminary moves (29-30 March) across the southern battlefields by German 2nd Army proved so slow and difficult that offensive operations were suspended between 1-3 April to allow German forces to recover. By 4 April, 17 German divisions were disposed along a 15-mile front south of the Somme threatening units of the French First Army and British forces covering Amiens.

Just after 5am on 4 April, in drenching rain, an intense German bombardment pounded allied positions. In dank mist German infantry attacked across sodden ground at 6.30am. In the British sector, 18th and 14th Divisions, with 9th Australian Brigade, repelled three serious German assaults, but around 10am an enemy break-in on 14th Division’s front, forced anxious withdrawals to positions barely a mile east of Villers-Bretonneux. North of the Roman road the British defence held all day, but serious problems unfolded to the south during the afternoon. In the wake of a strong attack around 4pm against 18th Division the enemy penetrated Lancer Wood pressing defenders back; a gap was punched in the line and the way lay open. Crucially, at 5.45pm, a determined counter-attack by 36th Australian Battalion stopped the German onrush; the line north of the railway was consolidated and the defensive perimeter east of Villers-Bretonneux re-established. The German drive towards Amiens had been stopped far short of its objectives; attacks would be renewed the following day.

It was in these attacks on 5th April that Walter was killed in action. He is buried in Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery  and is also commemorated on a stone in New Malton Cemetery.