Walter was a remarkable man. Before the war he was a gymnast and weight-lifting champion who originally came to Australia from Liverpool to train for the Olympics. The rest of his family soon followed and took up residence in Coburg.
Two of his brothers died during the war and Walter returned a double amputee. However, he did not let this 'disability' stop him. He started his own bootmaking and repair shop.
Image courtesy Jean Taylor
His training as an elite athlete stood him in good stead and he had a strong will. It was not long before he could hold his artificial limbs in place just using his muscles. He learned to ride a motorbike and later had a car with hand controls - there was no stopping him.
In 1921, he and a friend, Charlie H. Stevens co-founded the Limbless Soldiers Association and he spent much of his life supporting other men who had lost limbs in combat.
Image P02011.002, Courtesy Australian War Memorial. This group portrait features the first life members of the Limbless Soldiers Association of Victoria. Left to right: Reginald Samuel Amies, Norman Ralph McClure, Walter Benjamin Ashcroft, Charles (Charlie) Henry Stevens, E. Brownhill MBE. (Donors D. Sparkes & G. Stewart)
Members of the Limbless Soldiers' Association of Victoria meeting Dame Nellie Melba in November 1924. Walter Ashcroft is on the far right. Image courtesy Jean Taylor.
After the war Walter married another strong personality, Eva Templeton, whose brothers also served in the war.
During World War One, Eva's mother Maria Templeton was the President of the local Soldiers' Mothers' Association, a role Eva fulfilled during the Second World War when her own son Edward was serving.
Maria Templeton (nee Unkles) on her 70th birthday with her children William, Eva (Ashcroft), Hugh, Wallace and Keith. Image courtesy Jean Taylor.
Thanks to Walter Ashcroft's daughter Jean for the images and family information.