Walter was born in Norwich in 1866, the son of William G. and Maria Gorman. By 1881 he was living with his widowed mother Maria and siblings Charlotte, Frederick and Alice at the home of George Bygrave at 5 Charles Street, Wolverhampton. Walter was an ironwork labourer. On 16 August 1891, he married Annie Bird at Ettingshall.
On 25 February 1887, he first enlisted in the Army under the name of Walter Bygrave. His Army Pension Records include a Declaration, made by Walter on 9 January 1893, stating that this name is incorrect and producing his birth certificate with his true name (although some of his service records have him listed as “Walter O’Gorman”). He served in Egypt, Hong Kong and India before being discharged.
In 1914, at the age of 42, he enlisted for General Service (number 12122). His trade was then given as “Hall Porter”, and his wife’s address was given as 21 Commercial Road, Wolverhampton. On his attestation form, he stated that he had previously served with the Shropshire Light Infantry. He was attached to the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, and was promoted to Sergeant in August 1914. During the landing at Suvla Bay, in Gallipoli, in August 1915, he swam ashore and was wounded in both legs during a bayonet charge. He was taken to hospital and sent back to England in November 1915.
The Express & Star heralded his bravery on 28 February 1916. The article stated that he had spent nearly 30 years in the Army, and that he was the holder of the Royal Humane Society’s medal for life-saving after rescuing a boy from the canal at Monmore Green. He had also “performed another gallant act” at Boulter’s Lock, Maidenhead.
On 17 March 1917 he was discharged as being “no longer physically fit for War service”, as he continued to walk with difficulty due to rheumatism. He was issued with a Silver War Badge on 19 March 1917 (number 148899). He died in Rowley Regis in 1938, at the age of 71.