Private 240793 William H Richards

Died Home on Saturday, 22nd January 1921, age 40.
Buried in Grave H. 142. at Coseley (Providence) Baptist Chapelyard, Staffordshire, United Kingdom.

1st/6th Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 137th Brigade of 46th Division.
Formerly 3390 South Staffordshire Regiment.

Born: Unknown, Enlisted: Unknown, Resident: Unknown.

First landed France & Flanders, 5th March 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/395006/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
8 Castle View Terrace, Roseville, Coseley, Staffs.
Isaac Richards (50, Coal Miner, born Willenhall), his wife Matilda (50, born Coseley), and their 4 children: William (21, Coal Miner - Hewer, born Coseley), Ethel (14, born Coseley), Flossie (12, born Coseley), and their married daughter Martha Lagar (27, born Cosley), plus Martha's 3 children.

1911 Census
48 Castle Street, Roseville, Coseley, Staffs.
John Thomas and Martha Lagar, and their 4 children. Also Isaac Richards (61, Father-in-law, Coal Miner, born Essington), and William Richards (30, Brother-in-law, Furnaceman in Strip Mill, born Coseley).

Marriage of William H. Richards and Gertrude A. Bennett registered June quarter 1918 in Wolstanton, Staffs.
William and Gertrude had 2 children: William H. born June quarter 1918, and Stanley born September quarter 1919, both births were registered in Wolstanton.

Personal Data

WH Richards is commemorated on the Tipton Library Memorial, the list of names Staffordshire War Memorials shows him as belonging to the South Staffords. The only WH Richards who died whilst serving with the South Staffs was 240793 William Henry Richards, who died on 22nd March 1921 and is buried in Coseley (Providence) Baptist Churchyard.

There is no obvious link for this man to Tipton, but there is also no obvious alternative. It is possible given the proximity, that a relative living in Tipton put his name forward for commemoration.

William enlisted at Coseley on 14th October 1914 for service with the South Staffs, he was already a time-expired Special Reservist with the 3rd South Staffs. He was 30 years and 180 days of age, born Coseley, a single man, and employed as an Ironworker.

William landed in France on 5th March 1915 with the 1/6th South Staffs; he would have seen action at the infamous Hill 60 in his first months. On the 19th October 1915 he was transferred from the 1/6th to 3/6th South Staffs, this would likely have been an administrative transfer in England as it seems he was returned home injured (see later). Given the date, it may be that he was injured at the Hohenzollern Redoubt on 13th October, but this is not proven.

On 20th December 1915 William was transferred to the Command Depot at Ripon, this was a Convalescent Unit for the latter stages of recovery. On 22nd May 1916 he was transferred to the 28th Provisional Battalion, a home defence unit, so it seems William was not thought suitable to return to the front. On 16th November 1916 he was transferred to Class 'W' Reserve, this was for "...soldiers whose services are deemed to be more valuable to the country in civil rather than military employment". He was eligible for re-call if thought necessary.

In July 1917 the War Department wrote to William at 9 Castle View Terrace enquiring after his current condition. He replied "I suffer with my right knee and my inside where I was crushed. I am at the present time working", He was not recalled. William was finally discharged on 14th December 1918, and in August 1919 was awarded his Silver War Badge which stated that his discharge was due to wounds.

William's Pension Card (ancestry.co.uk Fold3) shows that an application was made for a pension, presumably by his widow, but this was refused on 9th March 1921.

Action resulting in his death

The CWGC Graves Registration report now available on their web site shows 2 addresses for William: 41 Liverpool Road, Cross Heath, Wolstanton, Staffs, and Castle View Terrace, Roseville, Coseley. The Wolstanton address was the same as he gave on his discharge, so it seems he died whilst living in Wolstanton where his death was registered, and the Coseley address was his next of kin from where he was buried. This is confirmed by his Pension Card which gives his next of kin as his wife, Mrs Gertrude Richards of 61 Liverpool Road, Cross Heath, Newcastle under Lyme.

William's Pension Card records that he died from 'Pulmonary Thrombosis'. However as he is commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, they must have accepted his death was to some degree caused by his military service. This was possible as he received crush injuries in 1915 which could lead to thrombosis, but that was in 1915. William was buried in the Coseley (Providence) Baptist Churchyard on 29th January 1921.

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