Private 24820 Charles Richards

Killed in Action on Wednesday, 19th July 1916, age 18.
Commemorated on Pier and Face 10 C 10 D and 11 A of Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.

15th Bn., Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regt.). 105th Brigade of 35th Division.

Born: Bradley, Bilston, Enlisted: Tipton, Resident: Unknown.

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library, and St. John's memorials.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1551138/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
58 Foundry Street, Coseley, Staffs.
Benjamin Richards (38, Boatman, born Coseley), and his 6 children: Benjamin (18, Boatman, born Coseley), Harriet (16, born Coseley), John (11, born Coseley), Cissie (9, born Coseley), Charlie (4, born Coseley), and Jacob (1, born Coseley).

1911 Census
Longnor House, 93 Queens Cross, Dudley, Worcs.
This was a Children's Home under the Poor Law; Superintendents were James and Eleanor Hayward.
Amongst the residents were:
Charles Richards (13, School, born Coseley), and Jacob Richards (11, School, born Coseley).

Personal Data

The 15th Sherwood Foresters was initially a Bantam Battalion for men less than the 5' 3'' required for other infantry Battalions. By the end of 1916 the quality of Bantam replacements became sub-standard; in common with the other Bantam Battalions, replacements from then on were average conscripts. As Charles Richards died in 1916, it can be assumed that he was a Bantam by height.

Action resulting in his death

The 15th Sherwood Foresters arrived in the area south east of Trones Wood on the night of the 16th/17th July, in heavy rain and under intense bombardment. The German's facing the Foresters were bold and aggressive and lost no opportunity to counter-attack.

On the 19th July, orders were received to attack at 05.00 on the 20th, and capture 1000 yards of trenches from Maltz Horn Farm to Arrow Head Copse. The troops were already exhausted, hungry and under intense artillery bombardment. It was decided that only 2 Companies were fit to attack, the other 2 had been badly shaken by shelling and had been in gas masks for four hours due to tear and chlorine gas shell fire.

Charles Richards was not to see the attack of Maltz Horn Farm, as he was killed in action on the 19th July, most likely from artillery fire. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

The attack on the 20th had some limited success, but at the cost of the lives 17 Other Ranks; 6 men had already been killed of the 19th. As an aside, Cpl Jesse Wilton of the same battalion was Shot at Dawn on 17th August for 'quitting his post'. On the 19th July he and 10 men under his command had been ordered to garrison an advanced post near Arrow Head Copse. He returned to the front line with his men without being ordered to. His subsequent execution was most likely to have been as an example to other NCOs of the New Army that they had a duty to lead, instil discipline, and show an example to others under their command.

[information extracted from: "The Blast of War" by Maurice Bacon and David Langley].

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