Maddox, Walter

Walter was born in 1893 the son of Thomas and Alice Ann Maddox.  (There is the birth of a Walter Maddox registered in the District of Ellesmere Shropshire  in the December quarter of 1893. Vol 6a page 660).

He was recorded on the census of 1901 living with his family at The Blacksmith’s Shop Bettisfield. Head of the household was Thomas Maddox. He was a 30 year old blacksmith who had been born in Prees Green, Shropshire. His wife was Alice A Maddox. She was 29 and had been born in Newtown. Their children were Walter aged 7 and Frank O aged 6 weeks. They had both been born in Bettisfield. There was one other person listed in the household. He was 32 year old Alfred Jones – a cousin- who was a brewer of malt liquor.

In January 1905, when Walter was 11, there was a great tragedy in Bettisfield as 5 children drowned when the ice gave way on the pond they were sliding on. Walter Maddox played an important part in this event and was hailed a hero. The local newspaper accounts of this event are transcribed further on a separate page on this website. Follow the link. Ice Tragedy 1905

Bettisfield School Log Book (County Record Office) records that on 22nd November 1907, Walter Maddox left school because he was ‘of age’.  (He was 14).

The next census in 1911 records the family living at Northwood Wem, Salop. Thomas Maddocks 40 was still a Blacksmith. His wife of 18 years, Alice Ann had at that point given birth to 4 children, all of whom had survived. They were listed as Walter aged 17 and also a Blacksmith, Frank Oliver 10, Eric Tom 5 and Ann 3. Also in the household was Thomas’s widowed father, Richard Maddox.  Later in 1911,  according to a family source, Alice Ann gave birth to twin boys John and Harold T. Sadly John died that same year.

Walter Maddox married Gertrude Whitfield in 1915.  ( Qtr Dec, Disrtict Ellesmere, Vol 6a, page 1916). There was a daughter, Beatrice born to this marriage. Walter’s medal index  card accessible on lists his two medals. On the back of the card is a note that says ‘Next of Kin Mrs G Butcher (widow remarried, 2 Vine Cottage Crotons, Ellesmere, Salop)’.

(A William A L Butcher married a Gertrude Maddox in Qtr March 1920 District Ellesmere Vol 6a, Page 1300)

On the 1st May 1917 the Bettisfield School Log Book records the fact that Eric, Annie and Harold Maddox’s names were taken off the registers as they had gone to live near Shrewsbury. (Alberbury)

Walter Maddox’s Army Pension Records have survived (accessible on and mainly consist of his discharge papers which chart his medical decline  The records tell us that he had enlisted on the 25th August 1914 in Shrewsbury. He would have been about 21. His former trade was Blacksmith and Shoeing Smith.  He served until the 13th August 1917, the date he was finally discharged from the army.

There is a medical report on invalid,  Farrier Sgt Maddox Walter 41510, Royal Engineers Training Dept Aldershot  which was written on the 23rd July 1917 at Tooting Military Hospital.

The report tells us that the origins of his disability began at Christmastime 1916 in France. He had a severe cold and cough with expectoration. He had chest pains. These symptoms had persisted and he had reported sick several times. He was finally admitted to hospital at the end of June 1917. TB was found in his sputum and he was sent home to England.

The medical officer who was writing this report said the cause of Walter’s illness was ‘Active Service, Exposure and Hardships’

The Report went on to describe his current condition as of the 23rd July 1917. Sgt Maddox was weak and had lost much weight. He had a cough with expectoration. His breathing was laboured. He had night sweats and his temperature ranged from 98 to 107 degrees. It concluded that he should be discharged as permanently unfit. That his disablement was total.

The discharge papers included a description of him prior to discharge. He was 22 years and 9 months old and was 5 feet 6 inches tall. His chest measured 36 inches with an expansion range of 2 inches. His complexion was medium, his eyes grey and his hair was brown. His trade was Shoeing Smith.

The Discharge paper noted that Sgt Maddox, after discharge, intended to reside at The Gate House, Alberbury, Shrewsbury, Shropshire. (We see from his Commonwealth War Grave Certificate, that this was where his parents were then living).  The paper says

‘Discharged no longer physically fit for war service para 392 XVI King’s Regulations. Military Character – Very good. Conduct very satisfactory in all respects. Before enlisting employed as shoeing Smith by T Maddox Northwood Nr Wem Salop for  5 years. Used to the care and mnagement of horses.’

Discharge confirmed 13.8.17

He was awarded a pension of 32/6d a week and Sanatorium. There is a note that says ‘He has accepted sanatorium treatment.

Another note said ‘man in hospital 14.2.18’.

The following information came from family member Sandra who told us that ‘when Walter was discharged from the army, he was only allowed home if he could be kept isolated from other members of the family. His mother agreed to look after him. He lived in a shed alone by the kitchen and was unable to have any contact with his wife or daughter’.

Walter died on 26th June 1918. There is a Death recorded of a Walter Maddox, in the District of Atcham, Shropshire June 1918. Age 25. Vol 6a, page 723.

He was buried in the Churchyard extension of Alberbury (St Michael and All Angels). He was named on the War Memorial in Alberbury, Shropshire as well as the Bettisfield memorial.

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