Captain W N Stone VC

Born on 7 December 1891 to Edward and Emily Frances Stone, of Blackheath, London. His father was a solicitor and Walter was the tenth son. He was educated at Harrow School and Pembroke College, Cambridge where he only attended for 5 terms.

As a 25-year-old, he was an Acting Captain in the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Fusiliers, attached to the 17th (Service) Battalion during the First World War. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on 30 November 1917 in the Cambrai Sector, France, which lead to his death.

For most conspicuous bravery when in command of a company in an isolated position 1,000 yards in front of the main line, and overlooking the enemy. He observed the Germans massing for an attack, and afforded invaluable information to battalion headquarters. He was ordered to withdraw his company, leaving a rearguard to cover the withdrawal. The attack developed with unexpected speed so Capt. Stone sent three platoons back and remained with the rearguard himself. He stood on the parapet with the telephone, under a tremendous bombardment, observing the enemy and continued to send back valuable information until the wire was cut by his orders. The rearguard was eventually surrounded and cut to pieces, and Capt. Stone was seen fighting to the last till he was shot through the head. The extraordinary coolness of this heroic officer and the accuracy of his information enabled dispositions to be made just in time to save the line and avert disaster.

There is a memorial to Walter Napleton Stone in Greenwich Cemetery, south-east London. The actual grave has never been located and he is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial to the Missing. About thirty yards in front of the War Memorial is a group of graves of the Stone family. On the largest are the names of Walter's parents, and underneath the inscription:

'also in memory of Lt Col Arthur Stone DSO, 16th Lancs Fusiliers, second son of the above, killed 2 October 1918......; and Capt Walter Napleton Stone VC, 17th Royal Fusiliers, fifth son of the above, killed Bourlon Wood, France, 30 November 1917, presumed buried by the Germans near Moeuvres.'

His name is included on the Lewisham Shopping Centre Memorial (Molesworth Street Entrance) and W. N.Stone VC is listed as a parishioner on the parish cavalry war memorial in the Trinity Chapel of The Collegiate Church of St Mary the Virgin, Shrewsbury. However, a blog posted by Peter Francis of Shrewsbury expresses surprise at this because he cannot find the connection between the Stones and Shropshire.

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by Stephen Luscombe