Topic: Walter Charles Bryden

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Walter Charles Bryden (Service no. 34345) was a soldier in the First World War with ties to New Brighton and Halswell.

 Walter Charles Bryden in uniform. AWMMWalter Charles Bryden was born in Springfield, Canterbury on 9th August 1890 to John Bryden and Ruth Reveley. John Bryden immigrated to New Zealand in 1864 with his parents Walter and Mary on the ship Canterbury. Ruth was the youngest daughter of Bill and Hannah Reveley who also immigrated to New Zealand in 1864 on the ship Indian Empire. Both families were from Yorkshire, England. 

Walter was the oldest child of John and Ruth, having two younger brothers; Eric Stanley (1900); Albert John (1893) and five younger sisters; Ivy (1895); Olive Ruth (1896); Lillian (1898); Ruby May (1903); Joyce Hannah (1909). He received his primary education at Burwood and New Brighton schools where he passed the Fourth Educational Standard.

Information from Walter's Enlistment Papers show that he was 5’7” tall and had brown hair and blue eyes. He was employed by the Government Railways as a fireman and lived in Morrisonville, near Tauranga. He belonged to the Railway Engineers Corps.

In 1917 he joined the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, 20th Reinforcements E Company. His brother, Albert Bryden, had already been killed in action the previous year. Walter’s company left Wellington on 2nd February 1917. En route to England they spent a month in South Africa in Cape Town and Simonstown, finally arriving in Devonport, Plymouth on 24th March. They had further training at the Codford Army Camp in Wiltshire.

 On 28th May, Walter and his company were sent to Belgium to support the front line at Messines Ridge. At Messines Ridge, British, Australian and Canadian tunnellers had already been working for six months digging mines and placing 600 tonnes of explosives.

On 7th June the explosives were detonated. The massive underground explosion collapsed the German-held Messines Ridge south of Ypres in Belgium. Upon detonation, 10,000 Germans stationed on the ridge vanished instantly. The British and their allies then stormed the ridge forcing the surviving Germans to withdraw to a new defensive position further eastward. The 250-foot-high ridge had given the Germans a commanding defensive position. In the following days British and ANZAC companies continued to push the Germans east, eventually driving them off the Messines Ridge. On 13th June, Walter was killed during one of these smaller engagements. He was 26 years old. The battle for Messines Ridge officially ended the next day on June 14th.

Walter was buried at the Messines Ridge British Cemetery in Belgium.

He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, which were actioned in 1921 and 1922 respectively.

He is remembered on the Messines Ridge (New Zealand) Memorial New Brighton School Roll of Honour Board and on the Halswell War Memorial.


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Walter Charles Bryden

First Names:Walter
Last Name:Bryden
Place of Birth:Springfield, Canterbury, New Zealand