Walter Thomas Russell Skerritt
Serial No. 2442
7th Field Artillery Brigade & 1st Division Signal Company
Walter Thomas Russell Skerritt - Information
Walter's father, Samuel, married his second wife, Rhoda, in Orange in 1892. Here, Samuel and Rhoda were blessed with many children, including Walter who was born in 1895. The Skerritt family then moved to the Campbelltown area, residing at Richmond Villa. Some years later, they packed up and moved again to Granville, where they resided at The Avenue. Walter found work as a clerk while gaining military experience serving with the 46th Infantry Militia. He then travelled to Broadmeadows in Victoria to join the AIF on the 18th of May 1915, aged 21. Walter then departed Melbourne on the 16th of July 1915 onboard the HMAT Demosthenes. He sailed as a Private with the 7th Battalion.
Walter arrived in Egypt and was transported to Mudros Base on Lemnos Island. From there, he was sent to Gallipoli, landing at Anzac Cove in mid September. On the 17th of October, he was transferred to the Signallers School of Instruction on Lemnos Island. He was then taken on strength to the 1st Division Signal Company in November. Back in Egypt, Walter was transferred back to the 7th Battalion in mid February 1916. He was then shipped to France from Alexandria in late March, and later appointed Lance Corporal on the 18th of April. Then, on the 4th of May 1916, he was severely injured in an accident. He was on duty near Fleurbaix when he accidentally dropped the head of an artillery shell which then exploded. He was immediately carried away by the 1st Field Ambulance to the 2nd Casualty Clearing Station. A Court of Inquiry was held at Fleurbaix the following day. The Court concluded that Walter was on duty at the time, and was not aware of the danger of handling a detached shell head, therefore, the incident was declared an unfortunate accident. On the 7th of May, he was admitted to hospital in Etaples. Walter was suffering with multiple injuries to his right testicle, thigh, arm, foot and head. He was evacuated to England and admitted to the 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital in Harefield. Walter's wounds were brutal and consequently he was sent home to Australia in late August 1916. He was medically discharged from the AIF in December. Walter was very lucky to survive the accident and return home to his family safely.