Details emerge of mystery WWI soldier who designed cathedral artwork

Details emerge of mystery WWI soldier who designed cathedral artwork

DETAILS have emerged of a wounded World War One soldier who designed a key part of an alter embroidery currently on display at St Paul’s Cathedral to mark the Centenary of the Great War.

Rifleman Walter Conway fought for the Belfast-based 10th Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles (now the Royal Ulster Rifles) before being badly wounded in battle.

The soldier was one of 138 injured servicemen who became involved in the craftwork while in convalescence nearly 100 years ago, the details of which were sought in a worldwide appeal in August and reported in The Irish Post.

As part of their recovery, hospitalised soldiers stitched the altar feature and Conway (Reg 44630) is credited with working on the centrepiece of the design.

It is now believed he transferred to the Royal Irish Rifles from 17th Bn London Regiment and was in fact from Stepney in East London.

“There came a point during the War when the dreadful losses meant that men were being transferred to other regiments on a regular basis,” Ed Holmes, a press officer for St Paul’s Cathedral, told The Irish Post this week.

After being heavily wounded, Conway was treated at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Central London.

Details about his life came to light through the rifleman’s granddaughter Roberta.

Gavin Glass, curator of the Royal Ulster Rifles Museum in Belfast, said the regiment maintained strong links today with the London Irish Rifles — who were once based at the Chelsea Barracks.

“A lot of the London Irishmen joined in Northern Ireland and were posted and fought with them right through Africa and Sicily.

“A lot of lads who joined the [Royal Irish] Rifles put their cap badge on and served for them,” he added.