Walter’s parents, Henry Grover and Susannah Evans, were married on 18th December 1859 at the parish church of St George’s in Camberwell. The record shows his profession as a Wheelwright. Both their fathers are also shown on the marriage register. Henry’s father’s profession (also Henry Grover) is also a Wheelwright, Susannah’s father (Thomas Evans) is listed as being a Cooper.
They had ten children between them; Susannah Frances was born c1860 but died 3 years later. Elizabeth was born c1864 followed by Thomas c1866, Sidney c1867, William c1869, Jane c1870, Minnie c1872, Susan c1873, Walter (Q1 1877) and lastly Jessie, born circa 1880.
According to the census records the Grovers lived at 3 addresses. The 1861 census shows them living at 2 Abbey Street, Bermondsey. Sometime between censuses they moved to 27 John Street, Bermondsey as shown in the 1871 census. They then moved to 67 Alscot Road, Bermondsey between 1871 and 1881 where they stayed until 1903. The 1904 Electoral Register lists Henry Grover as living at 6 Swan Buildings, Comus Place, Bermondsey. Henry died in Q2 1904.
Walter, like his father and grandfather before him, trained as a Wheelwright. He married Olivia (Olive) Roberts in the 3rd Quarter of 1899 when Walter was 22 years old and Olive was 21. In the census of 1901 Olive is at her parents’ house at 47 Avondale Square, Camberwell. It is very likely that they lived there for the early part of their marriage because when her first child, Walter Sydney, is baptised on 8th August 1900 that is the address recorded on the baptism register. Olive and her son Walter are registered there on the 1901 census. Olive is 24 years old and Walter is 8 months.
Walter Grover senior cannot be found on the 1901 census. It is possible that he is overseas as it is likely he joined the army before this time. No service records could be found for Walter apart from his army number which was 6199 and his Regiment which was the Royal Horse Artillery, courtesy of the Commonwealth War Graves website, although his likely postings can be tracked through where his children’s births are registered.
In total Walter and Olive had 9 children. As mentioned before Walter Sydney, born Q3 1900 and registered in Camberwell, was their first followed by Olive, born in the second quarter 1902 in Woolwich. She sadly died on 10th September 1911 aged 9 years old. Dorothy Grace was next also born in Woolwich in Q2 1903. Walter must then have been posted, accompanied with Olive abroad because their next child, William Thomas was born (according to the 1911 census) in the Punjab, India in 1905. Following another posting back to the UK Henry was born in Marylebone, Middlesex in Q1 1907. 18 months or so later Albert Edward was born, also in Marylebone, in Q3 1908. It looks likely that Walter was posted again back to Woolwich after this as their next child, Mabel, had her birth registered here in Q1 1910. All their children up until now can be seen on the 1911 census where they are registered as living at 151 Upper Wickham Lane, Welling. Walter is now a Sergeant in the Royal Horse Artillery and is a Wheeler by trade. They also have a live in servant/domestic called Edith May Charlotte Richards. They had two more children after the census; Arthur was born in Q3 1911 and was registered in Dartford followed by Margaret in Q1 1914, Woolwich. She also died in childhood on 16th March 1915 aged 14 months.
The Royal Horse Artillery was formed in 1793 at Goodwood, East Sussex, as fire support for the Cavalry during the French Revolutionary Wars. They fought with distinction in the following conflicts; Napoleonic War, Indian Mutiny, Crimean War, Peninsular War, Anglo Zulu War, Boer War and both World Wars. At the outbreak of WW1 they numbered 25 Batteries, 11of which were stationed in India and were issued with 13 pounder field guns. These were found to be too ineffective, with the advent of trench warfare, against well prepared defensive positions such as pillboxes and were superseded with the 18 pounder.
As Britain was on a war footing and preparing to send large numbers of troops to France, reinforcing the British Expeditionary Force, many Units found themselves on Salisbury Plain training for action. It is very likely that Walter was here doing just that when he fell ill. He was taken to the Royal Hampshire County Hospital where he died on 10th October 1914. His death certificate shows that he was suffering from Rheumatic Fever, an inflammatory disease that can attack the skin, joints, heart or brain. In Walter’s case it looks to have been his heart as the secondary cause of death was heart failure. The informant was John Appleyard, House Surgeon Royal Hampshire County Hospital Winchester. Walter’s address is shown as being 26 Married Quarters, Artillery Place Woolwich.
Walter was buried in East Wickham (St Michael’s) Churchyard. Although the gravestones have been removed, the church has a record of the inscription;
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY DEAR HUSBAND WALTER GROVER, STAFF SERGEANT WHEELER RHA
DIED 10TH OCTOBER 1914 AGED 39 YEARS
ALSO OLIVE DIED 10TH SEPTEMBER 1911
AND MARGARET DIED 16TH MARCH 1915
DAUGHTERS OF THE ABOVE
“UNTIL WE MEET”
It comes as no surprise that Olive wanted to start a new life having lost her beloved husband and two daughters. So on the 14th July 1921 she boarded the SS Athenic at Southampton and set sail for New Zealand with her children Dorothy (18), William (16), Henry (14), Albert (12), Mabel (11) and Arthur(9). Walter junior, now 21, appears to have stayed in the UK.
This story has been researched by volunteers. We have taken every effort to ensure its accuracy. If you are related to this soldier, or if you have any further information, please do get in touch.
Commemorated at Home
CWGC Memorial St Michael’s Church, East Wickham
Commonwealth War Graves Commission cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/367836/GROVER,%20WALTER