LIEUTENANT STEPHEN REGINALD PARKE WALTER
ROYAL FLYING CORPS
31ST JULY 1917 AGE 20
BURIED: LIJSSENTHOEK MILITARY CEMETERY, BELGIUM
"Pass friend - all's well!" is the sentry's reply to someone who gives the correct response to his challenge: "Halt, who goes there!". It is a not uncommon inscription on war memorials in this country with its double sense that we who pass by are able to do so because those who died made it safe for us. In this it reflects the Simonides-based epitaph: "Tell England ye that pass this monument, we died for her and here we rest content". In its second sense it implies that those who died correctly met the challenge of life and have therefore been allowed to pass into eternal life.
I know that Stephen Walter was educated at Wellington College otherwise I might have thought he was a Harrovian, perhaps his father was. This is because the refrain in one of Harrow's patriotic, school songs is, "Pass, Friend, All's well", which is used as a dedication on a memorial in the School. The second verse reads:
You stand where your brothers stood,
And pray where your brothers prayed,
Who fought with Death as brave men should,
Not boasting and not afraid.
For the blood and the lives that your brothers gave,
For the glory that you share,
The message comes from beyond the grave,
The challenge "Who goes there - you?
Pass, Friend, All's well."
There is another possible source, a piece of patriotic verse by "G.W.T.P." who is otherwise anonymous. This begins:
All's well, all's well with England!
Pass to your great reward,
All you whose lives were given
That freedom be restored.
Who faced your task undaunted,
And for our honour fell.
In answer to the challenge:
Pass, friend, all's well!
At 6.05 on the morning of 31 July 1917, DH5 no. B369, piloted by twenty-year-old Lieutenant Stephen Walter, took off from Droglandt to take part in a four-aircraft ground attack on the German lines. The cloud base was low and just north of Vlamertinge Walter's port wings were sheared off by an unseen balloon cable. The aircraft crashed to the ground and Walter was killed. Walter was an 'ace', having shot down six enemy aircraft during July 1917.
The only child of his parents, Stephen and Marion Walter, they dedicated a stained glass window to his memory in St Mary's East Farleigh and installed beside it his original battlefield grave marker, which his friends had made out of his aeroplane propeller.