The tragic First World War story of two Letchworth brothers in arms
- Credit: Archant
The story of a Letchworth man who fought alongside his brother and died as a result of a battle wound sustained 47 years earlier has come to light.
Walter Satterthwaite fought for the Hertfordshire Regiment alongside his elder sibling – Sgt Jack Satterthwaite – on the Western Front in November 1915.
Jack had left Letchworth railway station for war just over a year earlier, in October 1914, but their reunion would be short-lived when on April 17, 1916, the 25-year-old was fatally wounded in the trenches at Festubert in France.
Despite the loss of his brother, the war was not over for Walter who was transferred to the 6th Battalion Berkshire Regiment after the devastating losses at the Somme in late 1916.
Walter earned a coveted military medal for bravery in the field in recognition of his service, which included the infamous third battle of Ypres. But he was honourably discharged in 1919 as a result of a wound sustained to his knee two years earlier that left his right leg immobile for life.
After increasing pain from his wartime wound 47 years later, Walter was taken hospital for an amputation operation, but died at the age of 75 the following day as a result. He was one of the last casualties of the First World War.
The story of the Satterthwaite brothers came to light in June when Walter’s grandson Brian Satterthwaite donated a collection of medals, photographs and wartime documents to Letchworth’s Garden City Collection.
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The 77-year-old said: “My grandfather never spoke about the war and although we knew that Jack had died in the Great War, we have never known any detail about what he did. I wanted the collection to go to somewhere where it could do some good and help others learn about the First World War.”
Herts at War project co-ordinator Dan Hill said: “This collection and the family story are incredibly poignant. The ordeal that the Satterthwaites endured at the time and the impact of the Great War so many years after the event serve to highlight the legacy of the conflict and the people who served in it.
“With the centenary over the First World War upon us we are proud to be able to share this story with the people of Hertfordshire and feel that every previously unknown story that is told is a success for those who believe in the importance of remembrance and the preservation of our wartime history.”
The collection will go on display in the Herts at War exhibition from August 4 in Letchworth.
To view the rest of the Comet’s First World War supplement and read news from 100 years ago in our centenary digital archive visit www.thecomet24.co.uk.