The remains of a decorated Kiwi soldier, discovered below a World War I battlefield 101 years after he was killed by a bullet, have been reburied in a service at a war cemetery in Belgium.

Descendants of Captain Henry John Innes Walker, of Auckland, attended the service at a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in the town of Ypres in the province of West Flanders.

In the ceremony, Walker was laid to rest alongside six unknown soldiers, one of whom was found to have been in his regiment, The Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

Portrait of Henry John Innes Walker, whose remains were discovered in 2016 in Belgium where they had lain since he was killed in World War I. They have been reburied at a war cemetery in Belgium.
Portrait of Henry John Innes Walker, whose remains were discovered in 2016 in Belgium where they had lain since he was killed in World War I. They have been reburied at a war cemetery in Belgium.

Walker, who attended Auckland's Kings College, served in the British Army. His war began just days after the first British battle against the advancing German Army in Belgium in August 1914.

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He died eight months later. During the Second Battle of Ypres in Belgium, he was killed by a gunshot to the stomach on April 25, 1915, the same day New Zealanders went to war against the Ottoman Empire at Gallipoli.

Walker was shot at about 3.30am as his company advanced to take a defended wooded area. His body was last seen lying in a large shell crater, about 45m from a German trench. Men from his unit believed enemy soldiers probably buried him in the crater.

Alistair Innes-Walker at the service to re-bury his great uncle's remains at a war cemetery in Belgium.
Alistair Innes-Walker at the service to re-bury his great uncle's remains at a war cemetery in Belgium.
Jack Innes-Walker laying a wreath at the reburial service for his great great uncle, Captain Henry Walker, in Belgium.
Jack Innes-Walker laying a wreath at the reburial service for his great great uncle, Captain Henry Walker, in Belgium.

His remains were found in 2016 in a planned archaeological dig for a TV series, In War Special: Among Flemish Fields.

Archaeologists concluded the remains belonged to Walker after analysing bone material, objects found with him, and historical sources.

The British Ministry of Defence said that Walker and the six unknown soldiers were found among 38 casualties of various nationalities.

"Capt Walker was found with a coin holder, binocular components and leather casing bearing the initials 'HJIW' plus a Royal Warwickshire Regiment cap badge and shoulder title."

The burial service in Belgium for Captain Henry Walker and six unknown soldiers.
The burial service in Belgium for Captain Henry Walker and six unknown soldiers.
British Army Royal Regiment Fusiliers carry Captain Henry Walker's remains to their reburial site in Belgium.
British Army Royal Regiment Fusiliers carry Captain Henry Walker's remains to their reburial site in Belgium.

Great nephews Allan Innes-Walker, of New Zealand, and Alistair Innes-Walker, of Australia, attended the reburial service.

"According to his men, Jack's last words were, 'Come on lads', as he raised his revolver and led his company towards German lines and heavy fire," Allan said.

"His discovery and burial are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for my children to connect to a family member and a devastating history - an unexpected and inspiring legacy."

Alistair said: "My son is named after Great Uncle Jack. At school we sat beneath his memorial stained glass window - an ever-present reminder of a sad but proud history."

A nephew of Captain Walker's, Michael Innes-Walker, said he was brought up hearing his father's stories of Uncle Jack the schoolboy scholar and sportsman.

"He always wanted to be a soldier and joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, got posted to India and became a close friend of Monty [later General and Lord Bernard Montgomery] before transferring to France.

"My family never knew what happened to him other than he was killed in action, and now we will be honouring him as he so justly deserves."

When his death was reported in the New Zealand Herald in June 1915, Walker was described as an outstanding athlete.

NZ Herald report, June 22, 1915, of Captain Walker's death. Source / National Library
NZ Herald report, June 22, 1915, of Captain Walker's death. Source / National Library

"Captain Walker was regarded as one of the finest all-round athletes in the army. Subsequently he made a prominent name for himself as a threequarter back when playing for Blackheath.

"In the season of 1913-14 he was one of the fastest man [sic - men] engaged in rugby football in England, and footballers are of one mind that he will be greatly missed at the Rectory Field [at Blackheath, south-east London]."

The headstone for Captain Henry Walker's grave at a war cemetery in Belgium.
The headstone for Captain Henry Walker's grave at a war cemetery in Belgium.