Private 31103 Richard Fletcher

Died on Saturday, 23rd November 1918, age 22.
Buried in Grave A. 278. at Tipton Cemetery, Staffordshire, United Kingdom.

9th Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment (Pioneers). Pioneer Battalion of 23rd Division.

Son of Joseph Fletcher, of 10 Round's Square, Hall Road, Tipton.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Tipton, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives survived and transcribed.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/4023573/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
5 Court 2 House, Chapel Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Joseph Fletcher (49, Puddler, born Tipton), his wife Rachel (49, born Tipton), and their 4 children: Lucy (19, born Tipton), Joseph (16, Horse Keeper, born Tipton), William (13, born Tipton), and Richard (7, born Tipton).

1911 Census
3 Court 1 House, Chapel Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Joseph Fletcher (58, Widower, Puddler, born Tipton), and his 2 sons: William (21, Chainmaker's Striker, born Tipton), and Richard (16, Fettler in Iron Foundry, born Tipton).

Personal Data

Richard Fletcher attested on 12th December 1915, possibly under the Derby Scheme as he was not mobilised until 21st September 1916. He was 5 feet 6 inches tall, an unmarried labourer, and expressed a preference to join the Royal Field Artillery. This preference was ignored and he joined the South Staffs at Lichfield, being posted to the 9th (Pioneer) Battalion when he landed in France on 13th January 1917.

On 23rd July 1917 he was gassed (Shell Gas) and was admitted to the 14th General Hospital (Wimereux) for 3 days, then the 25th General Hospital (Boulogne) where he stayed for 7 weeks suffering from pneumonia during that time. He was then moved to the 7th and 10th Convalescent Depots, before a relapse with bronchitis saw him return to the 25th General Hospital on 21st October, before being invalided back to England on 17th November 1917.

On 14th June 1918 Fletcher was discharged from the army, classified as being physically unfit. His examination determined that he was suffering from bronchitis due to the effects of Shell Gas whilst on active service. His disability was not thought to be permanent, but 60% disabled for a period of 3 months. He was awarded a pension of 27 shillings and 6 pence per week, reducing to 16 shillings and 6 pence per week. At the time of his examination, he was recorded as having a 'dusky' complexion, blue eyes and fair hair, and was intending to live at 5 High Street, Tipton. He was awarded his Silver War Badge to show he had been invalided out of the army.

Fletcher was to be re-examined after 12 months, in June 1919. Unfortunately he did not live this long, dying 5 months later on 23rd November 1918.

Action resulting in his death

On 23rd July 1917 Richard was gassed. He was evacuated back to England, and was discharged in July 1918, and died just a year later in June 1919. He is buried in Tipton Cemetery with a CWGC headstone which acknowledges that the gassing was a cause of his death.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald 15 September 1917
Pte. R. Fletcher, SS.