I have been surprised at an apparent dicotomy between Walter Southey's background and some of the things said about him. I initially wondered if we had confused two Southey families. Another Walter Southey was born two years after ours. He too had a sister named Lilian, but she died soon after birth. The family appears substantial and was based around Holborn.
Lilian Edith Southey married a man named Vincett in 1919, aged twenty-four. Her husband may have been named Albert or George and they may have lived in Greenwich.
Walter Southey appears to have had a humble birth - his father, Walter Senior, started working life as an errand boy, at the age of twelve, later working as a warehouseman.
It would not be unusual for a working man to become a fighter pilot - they were often taken from the trenches. However, there appears to be some suggestion that Walter junior was educated at Christ's Hospital school, and may have travelled to South Africa.
The houses occupied look quite substantial for a working class family. However, in Victorian times, it was not unknown for such people to occupy a whole house. A few years later, my father's family occupied a couple of rooms.
Walter Southey is credited with knocking out eight Focker D.VIIs. These were thought to be the best aircraft available in The First World War. Southey usually tackled these planes whilst massively outnumbered and subject to ground fire from German artillery. In accomplishing this, he can be rated alongside any pilot of the First World War.
It has been pointed out that Southey's memorial shows a masonic device. Possibly, this may point to some involvement by the masons in his up-bringing, which might explain his attendance at a private school.