1417 Captain Harold Leslie Walden – 87th Punjabis, Indian Army

Harold Leslie Walden was born 25th May 1900 in Madras, India the son of Amelia Adelaide and George Henry Walden.[i] George is listed in the London Gazette 1906 as a Deputy Commissionaire, Barrack Department, Indian Army with an honourary rank of Captain.[ii]

                                                         The Walden family was based in the Maymyo (Pyin Oo Lwin) a scenic hill town in the Shan                                                             Highlands of the Mandalay Highlands where members of the Walden family were                                                                             employd by the Burmese Forest Service. Harold was educated at Maymyo and was listed
                                                         as a student when he entered the Officers School of Instruction, Nasik in September                                                                       1918[iii]. Harold is listed as having skills in Latin, Hindustani and Burmese. Graduating as                                                               the 18 year old 2nd Lieutenant Walden was assigned to the 87th Punjabis Depot at Jhansi,                                                             Uttar Pradesh, India in October 1918. The 87th Punjabis were serving as part of the 55th                                                               India Brigade, 18th Indian Division in Mesopotamia, Middle East and remained in the area                                                             being involved in quelling the 1919 Kurdish Revolts and 1920 Arab Rebellion[iv]. There
                                                         are no records to  confirm 2nd Lt Walden was in Mesopotamia during this period. The                                                                   London Gazette 12th September 1922 lists Harold among a large number of officers to
                                                         be placed in the Indian Army Reserve of Officers retaining the rank of 2nd Lieutenant[v].

                                                         87th Punjabis Havildar (Sergeant) WW1
                                                         Harold returned to Burma as he is listed joining the Burma Forest Service on 4th April 1925                                                           as a Class II Extra Conservator.[vi]  During World War Two Harold would have been                                                                         involved in maintaining the civil administration during the Burma campaign rather that at                                                             the front lines. The Japanese in 1943 had captured the majority of Burma with the
                                                         British / Indian forces at Assam large numbers of refugees entered India ahead of the advancing Japanese.  In the list of refugees from  Mawlaik, Burma is Mrs H.L. Walden and infant.[vii]   As the tide of war changed the Japanese were forced back and Burma was again under British control there was no need for the large number of local officers in the Burma Army reserve, on  3rd August 1945 the  London Gazette listed 2nd Lieutenant Harold Leslie Walden as being placed in the Burma Reserve of Officers. It is probable that 2nd Lieutenant Walden was given an honorary rank of Captain.

On 4th January 1948 Burma (Myanmar) was granted independence from Britain and about this time Harold and his wife Sheila May Walden moved to New Zealand, both are listed as living in Tawa Flat in 1949 with Harold’s occupation as Forester[viii] possibly with the NZ Forest Service given his experience in Burma .

The Walden’s remained in Tawa Flat with Harold dying there on 14th March 1970,
he is buried in the old Porirua Cemetery[ix].  

Databases: Families in British India Society
Anglo-Burmese Library – Civil and Army lists
87th Punjabis in the First World War
The London Gazette – military appointments
Porirua Cemetery Online Records
Electoral Rolls 1949 – 1970

Grave: Melanie MacDonald
87th Punjabis Havildar: Mercenary Graphics

[i]     Ancestry.com : Walden family
[ii]    The London Gazette, 27942 / 5733,  21st  August 1906
[iii]   Military records: Families in British India Society
[iv]   87th Punjabis in the First World War
[v]    London Gazette 12th September 1922, issue 32746, pages 6583 – 85
[vi]   Anglo-Burmese Library Civil Lists
[vii]  Anglo-Burmese Library – The Trek out of Burma 1942
[viii] Electoral Roll 1949 Onslow
[ix]   Porirua Cemetery Online Records
87th Punjabis Havidar (Sergeant)  WW1