Serjeant 611381 Richard Preece

Preece Richard 96 428x600
Photograph courtesy of Serjeant Preece's great grandson, Darren Greaves.

Died on Tuesday, 5th November 1918, age 31.
Buried in Grave A. 5. at Conches-En-Ouche Communal Cemetery, Eure, France.

Labour Corps, 14th (Prisoner of War) Company.
Formerly Cpl. 15574 9th Loyal North Lancs Regiment.

Husband of Mrs Harriet Preece.
Born: Dudley, Enlisted: Bolton, Resident: Unknown.

First landed France & Flanders, 25th September 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the St. Mark's Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/325584/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
81 High Street, Dudley, Worcs.
Richard Preece (55, Horse Driver at Ironworks, born Leominster), his wife Harriet (49, born Brierley Hill), and their son: Richard (13, Labourer at Ironworks, born Dudley).

1911 Census
9 Long Street, Bolton, Lancs.
Richard Preece (23, Gravedigger, born Dudley), and his wife Harriet (25, Drawing Frame Tenter, born Brierley Hill).

Richard married Maud Harriet Miller in 1910 in Bolton. A daughter, Harriet Maud, was born in 1913, and twin daughters Emma and Sarah were born in 1915; sadly Emma died when just a few weeks old.

Personal Data

R. Preece is recorded on the St. Mark's Memorial, Tipton. Of the 3 options available, this Dudley-born man is by far the most likely to be commemorated in Tipton. There is no record of Richard having lived in Tipton, so possibly his name was put forward for inclusion on the memorial by a church-going member of his family.

Richard's widow, Maud, was the sole beneficiary named in his will. On 7th May 1919, she received £54/5/8d (54 pounds, 5 shillings and 8 pence) due to Richard's estate. This constituted £27/0/0d War Gratuity and the remainder his outstanding army pay and allowances. Using his rank, date of death, and War Gratuity value, we can calculate that Richard enlisted in about August 1914.

Action resulting in his death

Richard volunteered in August 1914, joining the 9th Battalion, Loyal North Lancs. He landed in France on 25th September 1915 with the 9th Battalion, as part of 25th Division. His Battalion fought on the Somme in 1916 at Bazentin, Pozieres and the Ancre Heights, then in the Battles of Messines Ridge and Pilkem Ridge in 1917.

As Richard's Soldier's Papers did not survive, we cannot be sure which of these battles he fought in. It is likely he was wounded at some stage, and was not sufficiently fit for front line duty on his recovery. He was transferred to the 14th Company, Labour Corps, which was a Prisoner of War Company, guarding prisoners of war. In late 1918 they were in the Conches-en-Ouche area, about 35 miles south of Rouen. The German prisoners here were engaged in forestry work under the control of the Canadian Forestry Corps.

As Richard is recorded as having 'died' it is possible that he was a victim of the 1918 influenza pandemic. He died in the 'Detention Hospital' at Conches, and is buried at Conches-en-Ouche Communal Cemetery.

Newspaper Cuttings