Walter enlisted for the Army on the 4th of June 1945, at Kendal Lancashire, having previously served with the Merchant Navy.

WO1 (RSM) W Townson
WO1 (RSM) W Townson

He completed basic training with the 59th Training Regiment at Catterick and was posted on the 19th of April 1946 to the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars who were based at Villa Opicine (Northern Italy). He quickly settled into ‘C’ Squadron’s Transport Troop and was promoted to L/Cpl in June 1946, rising to substantive Corporal in December of that year.

By March 1947 the regiment had moved to the shipbuilding town of Monfalcone, and then onto the town of Lubeck in Germany. Here it was reduced to cadre strength of 210 rank and file; fortunately, Walter was one of 110 regular soldiers retained by the regiment.

In November 1947 the regiment returned home to Colchester after an absence of seven years and provided Walter with the opportunity to marry his sweetheart Sheila in December of that year. He also celebrated his promotion to Troop Sergeant of one of ‘C’ Squadron’s Sabre troops.

Walter served with distinction in Malaya, Hong Kong, Germany, and Aden, always inspiring his troop with high standards of achievement. These accomplishments were to continue throughout the following years wherever the regiment served. In March 1958 Walter was promoted to SQMS, and from here he continued to rise through the ranks to achieve RSM of the regiment.

With the exception of two years (1962-1964) when Walter was on secondment to the North Irish Horse, he served his entire career with the regiment.

Walter exemplified the army system in the development of a young man. He was not known to panic in any situation and always adopted a methodical and orderly manner in all tasks. His ability to solve any and all problems that came his way—often solving them in the calmest and most creative of ways—is fondly remembered by his colleagues.

The army was Walter’s life, and in later years when his family could accompany him, he enjoyed being with them and sharing the joys of family life within a regiment.

In 1970 Walter decided not to accept a commission and, instead, retired to accept an appointment as Finance Officer at King’s College London, an appointment he held for eight years.

Subsequently, he returned to his home town of Lancaster, where he accepted an appointment at Lancaster University as Manager of the Students’ Union, finally retiring at the age of 72. Walter enjoyed golf and walking in the Lakes with Sheila and their many friends.

In 2000 Walter and Sheila moved to a retirement home in London to be nearer their family and grandchildren.

Sadly Walter’s beloved wife Sheila passed away in March 2012, followed by Walter in June.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 4th Hussars
  2. A short history of The Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars
  3. Malaya 1948-51
  4. Aden and The Persian Gulf 1961