A British Tommy who died in the First World War has been remembered with a special service beside his grave in Belgium.
Walter Carter was still living with his parents in Charlton Street, Maidstone, when he was called up and posted to the Western Front.
Pte Carter, who was only 19, was serving with the 7th Battalion of the Queen’s Own Royal West Regiment – Maidstone’s regiment – when he died on October 18, 1918, just 24 days short of the end of the war.
The exact circumstances of his death remain unknown.
He is buried in the British and Commonwealth War Graves Commission Belgrade Cemetery at Namur, the capital of the Walloon region of Belgium, but records show his regiment had been in reserve, away from the front, in the weeks before, and had in fact left the area for Roisel the day before his death.
One theory is that he may have been taken prisoner in an earlier engagement and subsequently died of wounds, or perhaps illness, as Spanish Flu was by that time sweeping through all the forces.
Unfortunately, all the army records that would have provided the answer were destroyed in an air-raid in 1940 during the Second World War.
Pte Carter was the son of William Carter, a general labourer, and Jane Carter (nee Tree), and was one of six children.
A 1901 census shows the family as living at 5 Charlton Street in the county town.
The Belgians have not forgotten their country’s strong links with Britain, nor the debt they owe to British servicemen in two world wars.
Each year, they hold a service in the town and select some specific lost lives to remember.
This year, it was Pte Carter and also a British nursing sister, Elsie Gladstone, from St Helier in Jersey, who it is known did die of Spanish flu. She additionally is to have a street named after her in Namur.
The Maidstone Rotary Club arranged for a poppy wreath to be sent over, which was laid on Pte Carter’s grave by Etienne de Franquen, a member of the Namur Rotary Club.
The service was attended by Eliane Tillieux, the speaker of the Belgian parliament, by the Canadian Ambassador (there are also Canadian soldiers in the cemetery), by the mayor of Namur, and by Brigadier General Robbie Boyd, representing the Royal British Legion.
Pte Carter’s death is recorded on the memorial roll within St Michael and All Angels Church in Maidstone.