LIEUTENANT JACK KEITH CURWEN-WALKER
AUSTRALIAN FLYING CORPS
3RD MAY 1918 AGE 30
BURIED: RAMLEH WAR CEMETERY, ISRAEL/PALESTINE
Jack Keith Curwen-Walker was the eldest of John and Lucy Curwen-Walker's seven children. John Curwen-Walker died in 1905 and the children went to live with their father's mother and his sisters. A letter from their mother, in Curwen-Walker's service file, explains that, after her husband's death, "circumstances necessitated my little sons (sic) living with his grandmother & Aunts who supervised his education until the age of 17 years when he began to care for himself".
Curwen-Walker was a keen sportsman and something of a speed merchant. He represented the State of Victoria in ice hockey and was a member of the team that won the first inter-state Goodall Cup in 1910. In 1914 he broke the Australian motor-cycling speed record over one hundred miles when he cut 47 minutes off the previous record, which had only been set three weeks earlier. Curwen-Walker, riding "an Indian machine", averaged 56 mph over the course.
The American 'Indian Motor Cycle Company', was at this time the largest manufacturer of motor cycles in the world. Such was Curwen-Walker's enthusiasm for the machines that just before the war he took up an agency for the company.
In October 1916, he joined the Australian Flying Corps, giving one of his aunts, Miss Isabella Curwen-Walker as his next-of-kin. Qualifying as a pilot in September 1917 - delayed by having to recover from a crash - he joined No. 2 Squadron in Palestine in January 1918.
On the morning of 3 May 1918, soon after taking off from the airfield, Curwen-Walker's plane was seen to spin and crash. It was thought that through inexperience he had tried to climb too quickly. Both he and his observer, Corporal Jensen were killed.
Initially it was his aunt, Isabella, as his next-of-kin, who was informed of his death, but it was his mother who eventually chose his inscription.