b. 15/09/1829 Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire. d. 03/06/1872 Marylebone, London.
George Walters (1829-1872) was born on 15th September 1829 in Newport Pagnall, Buckinghamshire. His father, James was a local innkeeper, and his mother was Jane Green. George was the third child of seven. There are little records of his early life, and the reasons why he enlisted with the Army are unknown. It can only be speculated that with the spread of industrialisation and less reliance of agriculture for work, that unemployment could cause a number of young men like George to sign up to the army.
George enlisted with the 49th Regiment of Foot (later Royal Berkshire, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Regiment) and was sent to the Crimea. He distinguished himself particularly at the Battle of Inkerman on a foggy morning on 5th November 1854. During the heart of the battle, Walters noticed that Brigadier General Adams CB was under attack from a group of Russians. Walters immediately went to the officer’s aid, and having bayoneted one of the enemy, he rescued Adams from further harm. Sadly Adams had been wounded in the ankle, and having been taken to the hospital at Scutari, he died of infections a few days later. Walters was recommended for and awarded the Victoria Cross for his gallantry, and he appeared in the London Gazette with the first group of recipients on 24th February 1857.
A few months prior to the announcement of his Victoria Cross in February 1857, two notable events occurred in George’s life. Firstly, on 8th September 1856, he married Mary Ann Norman at the parish church in Newport Pagnell, and he was listed on the marriage record as a Sergeant in the 49th Regiment of Foot, and as living in Newport Pagnell. His father James was in attendance. Shortly after his wedding, on 5th January 1857, George decided to leave the Army and joined the Metropolitan Police as Constable 444 of R Division. On 21st June 1857, George and Mary Ann had a son called James Isaac Walters, and the family were now living at 10 Lucas Street in Deptford, Kent.
Just 5 days after James’ birth, George travelled to Hyde Park to attend the first investiture of the Victoria Cross. George was the 51st man in the line of 62 men, and one of 12 men who were awarded the medal for gallantry at the Battle of Inkerman. In front of over 12,000 spectators and 4,000 troops, Queen Victoria presented the medals in under 10 minutes.
George left the Metropolitan Police shortly afterwards on 26th October 1857, and it is believed he joined the Regents Park Police, and little is known of what happened to him before the 1871 Census, where he is visiting the Maply family in Newport Pagnell and his occupation is Park Keeper. His wife Mary Ann, is shown living at Lodge House, Park House, Marylebone, which is the gatehouse to Regents Park. George’s family on the 1871 Census also shows he now had three children, James (now 13), George (12) and Ephraim Robert (2).
On 3rd June 1872, George died at West Lodge, Park Crescent, Marylebone having suffered from Phthisis for over three years. Phthisis is a wasting disease but usually is associated with pulmonary tuberculosis or any debilitating lung or throat infections, a severe cough or asthma. He was buried on 9th June 1872 in an unmarked pauper’s grave in the City of Westminster Cemetery. In 1997, research was carried out to track down George’s final resting place, and in January 1998 a new headstone was placed at the now renamed East Finchley Cemetery. A commemorative plaque was also placed in the Royal British Legion in Newport Pagnell in his memory.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: GLOUCS/BERKS/WILTS RGT MUSEUM, SALISBURY, WILTSHIRE.
BURIAL PLACE: EAST FINCHLEY CEMETERY, LONDON.
East Avenue, Plot E10/55
Kevin Brazier – Walters VC Grave in East Finchley Cemetery.
Thomas Stewart – Image of the Walters VC Medal Group in The Rifles Museum, Salisbury.