Walter D'Arcy Hall MC

Walter D'Arcy Hall was born on 10 Sep 1891 in South Yarra, Australia. He was the son of Thomas Skarratt Hall and Jane Kirk. They moved to England when he was 4 years old and he was educated at Eton. After Sandhurst he was commissioned into the 20th Hussars in 1911. He was a lieutenant when the war started and his Troop held a railway bridge at Binche during the retreat from Mons. As they crossed the Aisne on 31 Aug his Troop was sent out on patrol and found the Germans in strength north of the river. They pulled back but were cut off and ran into a car-load of German officers, both parties being surprised and having little time to do more than swear at each other. They were also charged from the rear by uhlans but one of Hall's men, Private Hayhurst drew his sword and rode at them single-handed. In October 1914 his men were required to dig trenches for themselves for the first time but had no tools for the job, so mess tins and plates were used instead.

The 20th were in the vicinity of Amiens in March 1918. On 31st Mar they were in the Bois de Hangard and organised a dismounted company of 138 all ranks, officered by Captain Hall and 3 lieutenants. The next day they attacked Rifle Wood near Domart-sur-Luce and suffered heavy casualties including the 3 subalterns. They were subjected to enfilade fire but Hall pressed on and managed to clear the wood after fierce hand-to-hand fighting. They held on to the position until relieved by infantry. The casualties were 3 men killed, as well as the 3 officers, and 39 men wounded. Captain Hall was later transferred to the Royal Flying Corps as an observer. His services in the war were recognised and he was awarded the MC and Bar, and the Croix de Guerre. He reached the rank of lieutenant-colonel.

His political career included two periods as MP, once for Brecon & Radnor 1924-29 and once again from 1931 to 1935. He married Anne Madeleine Brook and had three children, one of whom was the scientist Edward Thomas Hall. His other son William was killed in WW2. Lieutenant-Colonel Walter Hall died on 22 Jan 1980 in Salisbury, and was buried at Woodford, Wiltshire.

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by Stephen Luscombe