Captain Sir Walter Alexander Edmenson

 

Walter Alexander Edmenson was born in London on 2 December 1892, one of six children of Customs and Excise collector Robert Robeson Edmenson and his Belfast-born wife Annie (formerly Fry). By 1911 he was working as a commercial clerk in engineering.

Edmenson enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Belfast on 26 September 1914 (No.1220). He was promoted to lance corporal on 9 November, corporal on 21 December, and squadron quartermaster sergeant on 31 December.

He left Antrim for England with B Squadron in July 1915, finding billets in Boxmoor, Hertfordshire, while the squadron was attached to the 59th Division and awaiting orders for France.

On 17 September 1915 Edmenson applied for a commission. He was appointed a 2nd lieutenant on 27 October and posted to the 5 C Reserve Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery at Colchester.

In February 1916 he embarked for France, joining 172 Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery – 36th (Ulster) Division – in the field on 4 March. On 7 July he was made adjutant with the rank of temporary lieutenant.

Edmenson was mentioned in Field Marshal Haig's despatch of 13 November 1916.

On 22 February 1917 Edmenson was transferred to the 36th Divisional Ammunition Column, following the disbandment of 172 Brigade. Four months later (15 June) he was transferred to D Battery, 173 Brigade – 36th (Ulster) Division. While he lost his adjutancy, he was made second-in-command of the battery, with the acting rank of captain. His permanent promotion to lieutenant came through on 1 July.

Edmenson was injured during Third Ypres "when carrying ammunition he received a blow from the shell he was carrying, on abdomen which gave rise to ... appendicitis." He was admitted to hospital on 29 July 1917 and evacuated to England four days later, where his appendix was removed. It was not until 7 January 1918 that he was found fit for home service. Despite losing his battery, he retained his acting captaincy, although with the pay of a lieutenant.

He was demobilised on 27 March 1919 and relinquished his commission on 1 April 1920.

Edmenson had married Doris Davidson at Tynemouth in the latter part of 1918 and their first child, Walter Alexander, was born the following year. Walter junior served in World War 2 as a sub-lieutenant in the Royal Navy. He was mentioned in despatches "for zeal and devotion to duty in mine-sweeping operations", but was killed in action, aged 21, on 26 December 1940 when Motor Attendant Craft No.5 was lost off Gunfleet, Essex, presumed mined.

Walter (senior) rose to prominence in business and government circles in Northern Ireland. He was Minister of War Transport for Northern Ireland during World War 2 and was awarded a CBE in the King's Birthday Honours of 1944 and the American Medal of Freedom in 1945. He served on the boards of many companies and authorities, including the Ulster Steamship Company, G Heyn & Sons, the Clyde Shipping Company, the Belfast Banking Company, the North Continental Shipping Company the Ulster Transport Authority and the British European Airways Corporation. In 1951 he was appointed Deputy Lieutenant for the County of the City of Belfast.

Edmenson was awarded a Knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours of 1958 for "public services in Northern Ireland".

 

Belfast News-Letter 13 October 1945

 

Northern Whig, 27 October 1947

 

Belfast News-Letter 10 August 1949