The grandson of a Barbadian slave, he was born in Folkestone on 28 April 1888, where his family had settled and become associated with the local WM church. When the family fell on hard times, Walter and his brother Edward were received by the National Children's Home at Bethnal Green. He became the second black footballer to play in League football (the first being ??? of Preston North End). He signed for Tottenham Hotspurs in 1909 and, after suffering racial abuse in a match at Bristol, moved to Northampton Town in the Southern League in 1911. His final game for Northampton was against Milwall in 1915. Enlisting in the Army at the height of World War I, he reached the rank of Sergeant and fought in the battle of the Somme (1916). Recovering from trench fever, he trained as an officer. He died on the Somme on 25 March 1918, leading his men as a second lieutenant who had risen through the ranks.
He was posthumously awarded the British War and Victory Medal and recommended for a Military Cross (which was never awarded). In 2008 his story was commemorated in a TV programme 'Walter's War' and a touring exhibition, and by a statue in his honour outside Northampton Town's ground. In 2014 a film was made of his life and the Royal Mint issued a commemorative coin in his honour. In 2018 a stamp in a series commemorating the First World War included his portrait.
Black Footballer and Soldier (Liverpool, 2003)