Private 39415 William Richards

Richards William 96 400x600

Killed in Action on Thursday, 18th April 1918, age 19.
Buried in Grave III. C. 36. at Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe, Pas De Calais, France.

'A' Company of 7th Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 33rd Brigade of 11th Division.

Son of Thomas and Eliza Ann Richards, of Tipton, Staffs. (16 Boscobel Street on 1911 Census)
Born: Tipton, 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 Mission Church Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/67954/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
16 Boscobel Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Thomas Richards (36, Gas Producer Worker, born Ketley, Salop), his wife Eliza (35, born Tipton), and their 4 children: George (9, born Tipton), Charles (4, born Tipton), William (3, born Tipton), and John T. (5 months, born Tipton).

1911 Census
16 Boscobel Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Thomas Richards (45, General Labourer, born Ketley, Salop), his wife Eliza (40, born Tipton), and their 4 surviving children (of 5): George (18, Assistant at Cupola, born Tipton), Charles (14, Assistant in Coalyard, born Tipton), Willie (12, School at Burnt Tree, born Tipton), and Elsie (3, born Tipton).

Personal Data

After William's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £10/4/6d (10 pounds, 4 shillings and 6 pence); this was paid to his father, Thomas J., in August 1918. His War Gratuity was £3/0/0d (3 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his father in November 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that William had enlisted in the 12 months before his death.

Action resulting in his death

Paraphrasing from Ashcroft's History of the 7th South Staffs:
"From January to August 1918, the 7th South Staffs were part of the defence of the Hulloch and St. Elie sector. This was achieved by the defence in depth principle, where the outpost line was held by a series of isolated localities sited for their all-round fire, and generally garrisoned by one company. The outposts were normally 200 to 500 yards distance from the enemy front line, and about 600 yards from the British second or main line of resistance. During April the 7th South Staffs were located between Hulluch and Loos with significant activity on both side. The Germans used High-Velocity guns reaching the rear areas, bombing from large airplane squadrons, gas attacks (especially April 8th) as well as the usual shelling and rifle fire."

Despite this activity, only 3 men from the battalion were killed during April.

The War Diary for the 18th April states:
Relieved 9th SHERWOOD FORESTERS in Left Sub-Sector without incident. Quiet.
Following casualties were suffered in rest billets in MAZINGARBE.
39415 Pte. - RICHARDS W.
18447 - Pte. ROWLANDS J.E.
19775 - Pte. CRESSWELL D.
202444 - Pte. NEWSOME L.G.

We do not know the cause of William Richards death in rest billets, but there had been instances of long-range artillery and bombs dropped from aircraft. William is buried in Philopsophe British Cemetery at Mazingarbe.

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