b. 24/11/1827 Finea, County Westmeath, Ireland. d. 18/07/1902 Arlington Rectory, Devon.
Sir Mark Walker (1827-1902) was born in Finea, County Westmeath, Ireland on 24th November 1827, the son of Captain Alexander Walker, who was a distinguished officer who served in the Peninsular Wars. Mark was educated at Portarlington, and was gazetted to the 30th Regiment of Foot as an Ensign on 25th September 1846. He served throughout the Crimean Campaign as Adjutant for the 30th Regiment of Foot from 30th December 1854 to 14th May 1855.
He was present at the Battle of Alma where he was wounded and his horse was shot from under him. He also was at the Battle of Inkerman, and would later be at the Siege of Sebastopol. At the Battle of Inkerman on 5th November 1854, he greatly distinguished himself.
When the alarm was given by the picquets, the 30th Regiment advanced in two battalions, the right under Colonel Mauleverer and the left under Colonel Patullo. Lieutenant Walker was with Colonel Mauleverer’s battalion, which moved towards a low wall and lay down. Suddenly, from out of the thick fog, two heavy columns of Russian Infantry appeared and the command was given to open fire. Unfortunately, the stoppers of the rifles had been lost, and the arms were wet and useless. The Russians got closer, and the position grew desperate. There was a possibility that the men would get nervous and out of hand. Lieutenant Walker seized the moment and jumped over the wall, calling the men to follow him with the bayonet. He led them straight at the Russians, who were shocked by the suddenness of the attack. They couldn’t see how small Walker’s attacking party was, and were struck with panic. Despite the Russian officers shouting at their men to stand firm, their men turned and ran, pursued for some distance by Walker. Walker was recommended for and awarded the Victoria Cross for this action. (London Gazette, 4th June 1858).
He was promoted into the Buffs in 1854, and was mentioned in despatches on 7th May 1855. Later that year, on 20th October 1855, Walker was severely wounded in the trenches, and his right arm was amputated. He was also awarded the Crimean Medal with three clasps, the 5th Class of the Order of the Medjidie and the Turkish Medal. He was promoted to Captain in 1855, and then to Brevet Major in June 1856.
Major Walker then served in the China War from March to November 1860, as Brigade Major, being present at the Battle of Sinho, the capture of the Taku Forts, Shanken Wan, Tientsin, Ting Chin and Pekin. He was mentioned in despatches and was given the brevet of Lieutenant Colonel in February 1861. He then became Major in the 3rd Regiment of Foot in 1870 and Lieutenant Colonel of the 45th Regiment of Foot in 1873.
In 1875, he was created a Companion of Bath and from August that year to November 1879, he commanded a brigade at Kamptu, Madras. He had been promoted to Major General in November 1878, whilst in India. In 1881, he married Catherine, daughter of Robert Bruce Chichester of Arlington, Devon. From 1883 to 1884, he commanded a brigade at Aldershot, and he was Major General in Gibraltar from April 1884 to March 1888. On 16th December 1888, he was promoted to Lieutenant General, and in 1893 he was knighted. He became a General in February 1893 and retired from service on 1st April that year. He then lived in retirement between his home at 10, Castle Avenue, Folkestone, and Arlington Rectory, near Barnstaple, Devon. He died at Arlington Rectory on Friday July 18th 1902, and was buried in Cheriton Road Cemetery, Folkestone. His medals were originally bequeathed by his widow to the 1st Battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment. They are now held by the National Army Museum, Chelsea.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NATIONAL ARMY MUSEUM, CHELSEA.
BURIAL PLACE: CHERITON ROAD CEMETERY, FOLKESTONE, KENT.
Sir Mark Walker's VC now held in the National Army Museum, Chelsea (picture from their website).
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier