Remembering Henry George Walthoe

By Angi

Located immediately to the left of the First World War Memorial plaque commemorating those who served and those who fell from the local area (visit The Boys on the Plaque to hear about that project) is a small brass-plated plaque to a soldier lost in the Second World War. 

Photo credit: EV
Henry’s polished brass plaque next to the WW1 plaque

It is the only wall plaque in the church in memory of a soldier killed in battle in this war. The soldier who is remembered is named Henry George Walthoe. 

“In proud and loving memory of L/Cpl. Henry George Walthoe 263rd Coy. Royal engineers Killed in France on Active Service 20th May 1940”

He was a Lance Corporal of 263 Coy, Royal Engineers, service number 2074173. He fought in the Battle of the Somme and was killed there on 20 May 1940. He was buried in Pont-de-Metz Churchyard in Dept de la Somme in Picardie, France, in Plot 4, Row A, Grave 33. He lies alongside a further twenty soldiers who died in the same skirmish, several of whom were also from Sussex. 

Henry’s grave in Pont-De-Metz

Henry George was listed as missing on p172 of the ‘British Army List of Missing to be circulated to POW camps, includes Copy of 1st and 2nd Lists.’ 

The theatre of war was the France and Belgium Campaign of 1939/40. Henry was mentioned in the UK Army Roll of Honour 1939/40. 

Henry George was also part of the Scouts, the 5th Brighton West Group (now 5th Hove), and is listed on an honour roll of Scouts and Scout leaders who died during World War Two.

Henry was the son of George and Nellie Walthoe nee Brown of Brighton. He was born in Brighton in July 1919. George Walthoe was born in Brighton on 22 September 1888 to Henry Walthoe from Weston in Staffordshire. The surname Walthoe seems to derive from this region, often spelt Waltho. Henry was described as a ‘whitesmith’. This refers to a metal worker who specialises in finishing work, particularly using white or light coloured metals such as zinc and tinplate. He was married to Phoebe Rhoda Burfield, known as Rhoda. George had two sisters and a brother and the family lived at 88 Church Street Brighton. 

George was awarded a medal card (held by The National Archives, Kew) in the Index of First World War Mercantile Marine Medals. 

Nellie Walthoe nee Brown was born in Brighton in 1889 to George and Mary Brown. George was a railway porter. Aged two, Nellie was living with them and her four siblings at 27 Yardley Street Brighton, in the Parish of St Saviour’s. The house is a terraced Victorian bay fronted house, with stone steps leading up to the ground and first floor, and stairs leading down to the ‘area’ or basement level. 

In the 1901 Census Nellie is now 12, and the family are still at the same address. 10 years later Nellie is now 22 and working in a restaurant as a waitress. The restaurant was at 107 and 108 Church Street. 109 is the pub ‘The Waggon and Horses’ at the junction of Church Street and Jubilee Street, and 108 was on the opposite corner across Jubilee Street.  107 and 108 were Victorian terraced properties which were demolished in 1972. The large new building which eventually replaced them has also housed a restaurant  – until recently it was Carluccio’s. 

Grave Registration Report Form for Henry

George Walthoe and Nellie Brown married in Brighton in October 1916. George died in Brighton in January 1921, when he was 32 years old, and his son Henry George was aged less than two years old. 

This suggests that the plaque was commissioned by Nellie Walthoe, mother of Henry George. Nellie died in January 1976 in Brighton, aged 87. She does not seem to have remarried or had any further children. 

We always welcome more information from our community. If you know something about Henry Walthoe or his family, then do get in touch with pastpresentfuture@fabrica.org.uk

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