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Calling relatives of Walter George Self

Do you have the Self family from Badingham in your family tree? Specifically, do you recognise the names George and Laura Self, parents to six children: Albert, Walter, George, Alice, Laura (and another Alice that died in infanthood)?

The medals of their second son, Walter George Self, Petty Officer in the Royal Navy, will be auctioned next week (The 1914-15 Star; British and Victory medals, fitting nicely into Week 22 of #52Ancestors: Conflict).

The Badingham connection

The medals are marked J 5266, corresponding to a medal roll record for Walter G Self of the H.M.S. Maidstone (U.K. Naval Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1972; Available online at Ancestry). At the time the record was created, Walter was an Able Seaman.

His much more comprehensive service record, ADM 188/657/5266, digitised at Find My Past (British Royal Navy Seamen, 1899-1924), gives his full name as Walter George Self, born 7 June 1892 in Badingham, Suffolk. He was a farm labourer before joining the Royal Navy. The record tallies with J 5266 as his service number.

Walter’s career

I won’t give all the details of Walter’s service here, but it’s interesting to note that he grew four inches after joining up at 16, ending up at 5’10”. He had dark hair, hazel eyes and a fair complexion, which changed as he got older to light brown hair, brown eyes and a fresh complexion. He had ink marks on his right forearm at 16 and perhaps later another tattoo by the age of 20.

Walter’s naval career was extensive, spanning the First World War and beyond. After being invalided out in 1930, he was recalled to service at the beginning of the Second.

Walter’s early life

Walter had spent his early years in Badingham, the son of George Self, farmer and miller. In the 1901 census, he was enumerated as eight years old. Walter had an older brother, Albert, who was nine, a younger brother George, six, and a little sister called Alice, three. They lived at Lay’s Farm. The next census suggests his parents, George and Laura, had been married twenty years and that Walter was one of six children, five of whom were still living. By then, another little sister, Laura, had arrived. (The missing child appears to have been another Alice Self, who was born in 1893 but sadly died in 1894).

Walter’s marriage and death

Walter married Kathleen Cater at St Andrew, Willesden, on 4 August 1935, when the first chapter of his naval career was over. He was 43 and gave his profession as Government Messenger. Walter’s bride was 36, the widowed daughter of a coachman. (London, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1939; available online at Ancestry).

Kathleen can later be found on the 1939 Register with two children with the surname Cater. Walter is not in the household, perhaps because he had already returned to duty.

Walter’s death was registered in Hartismere Registration District in March Quarter, 1973. Kathleen had died a few years earlier, her probate noting 50 Villiers Road – the same address both gave on their marriage in 1935.

Are you connected to Walter Self?

It looks like Walter may not have had any children, which perhaps makes it more likely that his medals would have found their way to auction.

But, based on some quick and dirty trees, some of his siblings did. Many of them headed towards the capital from little old Badingham.

Perhaps you are a descendant of one of them. If so, this is your chance to own an uncle/cousin’s medals. 

Here’s a reminder of the link. The auction is online on 29 June, 2022. 

Author’s Note

There is more than one Walter George Self. Some trees on Ancestry have attached a different marriage to ‘our’ Walter; this isn’t entirely a surprise, as one of the other Walters gives a birthdate of 6 June 1892 in the 1939 Register – just one day earlier than ‘our’ Walter! 

The Walter George Self born in Swanton Abbott, was also registered in September Quarter 1892. He grew up with his grandparents, Jeremiah and Sarah Self, in Scottow, and it appears he may have been born to their daughter, Emma Self. It seems more likely that it was this Walter, in Holbeach for 1921 (his place of birth matches on the census), Wisbech in 1926 and Sutton Crosses in 1939 with wife Elsie. That said, his birth date in 1939 complicates matters, so please disprove me if you can! The rest of his vitals suggest 18 May, not 6 June.

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