Private 16238 David Richards

Richards David 96 436x600
Photo courtesy of Eric Pepper, David Richards' nephew.

Killed in Action on Wednesday, 24th November 1915, age 17.
Commemorated on Panel 73 to 76 of Loos Memorial, Pas De Calais, France.

2nd Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 6th Brigade of 2nd Division.

Son of Mary Bryan (formerly Richards), of 54, Bradley Lane, Coseley, Bilston, Staffs., and the late David Richards.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Tipton, Resident: Coseley.

First landed France & Flanders, 4th May 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

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/1767576/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
35 High Street, Princes End, Tipton, Staffs.
David Richards (35, Puddler, born Coseley), his wife Mary (31, born Willenhall), and their 3 children: Lily (8, born Willenhall), Albert (6, born Bilston), and David (4, born Princes End).

1911 Census
36 High Street, Princes End, Tipton, Staffs.
Mary Richards (40, Widow, born Willenhall), and 5 of her 6 surviving children of 6: Albert (16, Iron Moulder, born Bilston), David (14, Iron Moulder, born Princes End), Lucy (9, born Princes End), Ethel May (6, born Princes End), and Ellen L. (5, born Princes End).

Personal Data

David Richards was born in Princes End, Tipton in 1898. He lied about his age to join up in October 1914, despite being only 16 years old. It has been suggested by David's family that he joined up because his elder brother, Albert, had already joined the army.

After training with the 3rd Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment in Plymouth, David was sent to France in a draft for the 2nd Battalion in May 1915. He joined the battalion at Allougne and soon experienced the routine of trench warfare, serving in the area of the La Bassée Canal. On 29th September, his battalion took part in the first phase of the Battle of Loos, suffering many casualties as a result of gas released by the British blowing back over the attacking troops.

After David's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £2/4/7d (2 pounds, 4 shillings and 7 pence); this was paid in October 1917 to his mother, Mrs Mary Bryan - she had married Joseph Bryan in September quarter 1911. His War Gratuity was £3/10/0d (3 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his mother in August 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that David had enlisted within the previous 12 months.

Action resulting in his death

On 24th November 1915 the Germans exploded a mine underneath the South Stafford's trenches in a position known as 'Gibson's Crater', near Cuinchy. The explosion buried 23 men, and although efforts were made to rescue them, 15 were unaccounted for. There were 3 Tipton men killed on the 24th November with the 2nd South Staffs, Privates Thomas Nicholas, Arthur Eades and David Richards. None of the 3 has a known grave, all are commemorated on the Loos Memorial, so could be included in the 15 unaccounted men.

No trace of Private Richards could be found following the explosion, he was just 17 years old. He was a cousin of Stephen Lounds who had been killed just over a month before at Hohenzollern Redoubt during the Battle of Loos.

24th November 1915 2nd South Staffs War Diary:
There was some shelling of our line by heavy howitzers during the morning but no damage was done. Mining was suspected under the northern lip of GIBSON'S CRATER, but this was not confirmed by the officer in charge of mining operations who was consulted in the matter. 2/Lieut. E.P.S. BURNETT was wounded by a rifle-grenade in the course of the morning. About 3 pm one company 18th Royal Fusiliers arrived on detachment to the Battalion and relieved 'B' Company. At about 4.30 pm the enemy exploded a mine directly under GIBSON'S CRATER and buried the whole of the garrison with the exception of two men who were blown some distance and killed. 2/Lieut. A.P. PRIOR, who was now in command of 'A' Company, immediately organised and at once commenced the work of rescue and 6 men who had been partially buried were eventually dug out. 2/Lieut. W.H. CARTER, who was sent up from Battalion Headquarters, immediately organised a fresh bombing party and occupied the lip of the crater, where bombing was continued through the night. The crater was subjected to a heavy fire of rifle-grenades and 2/Lieuts A.P. PRIOR and W.H. CARTER were slightly wounded. About 9.30 pm a sudden shower of bombs and rifle-grenades caused our men to evacuate the crater, which was immediately re-occupied.

Harry Carter's M.C.
2nd Lieut W. H. Carter att 2nd Battalion South Staffordshire Regt (London Gazette 23rd Dec 1915) Military Cross:

"For consistent good work throughout the campaign, notably on 24th November 1915"
"The enemy exploded a mine under Gibson's Crater, south of the La Bassée road, killing and wounding most of the garrison. Lieutenant Carter at once went up and commenced reorganising the defence of the crater. He was slightly wounded, but remained at his post, and it was mainly due to his courage and example that two hostile bomb attacks on the crater were repulsed. He also organised a bomb attack on the enemy, thus keeping them quiet for four hours, while the position was consolidated."

Newspaper Cuttings

Black Country Bugle 24th November 2015
An article about David Richards quoted a letter dated 12th November 1915, written by David just a fortnight before his death "We have had things given out to us to keep us warm. They gave us a pair of mits and gloves and I dare say Albert (Editor: Albert was his brother) has had the same but I have not seen Albert since we came out of the trenches, but I hope I shall see him soon." In the same letter he wrote of a missing friend: "I dare say they are grieving about Steve at home, but I do hope that he is all right and Mother said that they are going to write to Lichfield to see if they can get any news about him."

The 'missing friend' was his cousin Stephen Lounds, unfortnately he had been killed at the Hohenzollern Redoubt on 13th October 1915. Click on the following link for Stephen's story: Stephen Lounds.