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John Thomas Richards


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In Memory of Private JOHN THOMAS RICHARDS 6112, 8th Bn., Royal Welsh Fusiliers who died on 24 July 1915 Remembered with honour HELLES MEMORIAL Commemorated in perpetuity by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

I am still trying to find out more about my grandfathers brother above, he is recognized on the Ffrith war memorial, he was born 25th Oct 1875 in Garth trevor, Wales, and married Harriet Edwards 11th Oct 1902 in Llanfynydd, Wales. I would love to get more information on his wife and children if he had any? Any help would be greatly appreciated,

thanks Clive.

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Hi Clive,

the information you need would have been in his Service Record, naming his wife and any dependent children. Unfortunately, this series of records was bombed in London during the Blitz in 1940, and only about one-third survived.

At the moment the surviving "R" surnames are not listed on Ancestry.co.uk, though they will be along in the near future. Your only immediate way of checking would be at the National Archives, Kew, London where there is a complete microfilm set available.

The Army's basic casualty list, Soldiers Died in the Great War, states that he was born at Llangollen and enlisted at Wrexham. His Medal Roll index card states that he qualified for the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal by entering the "Balkan" theatre of war on 28 June 1915 (in other words he entered the general Gallipoli war zone then): his battalion actually landed at Gallipoli on 16 July following.

His regimental number is a trifle low for a New Army recruit of 1914-15: the 8th was the first "Kitchener" battalion of the RWF and its new recruits tended to have numbers in the series 11,000-12,999. It is possible, if a little unlikely, that he was a Territorial as these units had lower numbers. Alternatively he may have been a pre-War Special Reservist (before 1908 the Militia), whose numbers would have reached c6000 in about ?1912 (no.7000 issued early in 1914).

The man to ask about the significance of this RWF number is Forum member "Grumpy", who is on a long holiday in Australia for some weeks to come.

Lastly, you may be able to find out more by consulting the local newspapers for his home area for the period just following his death in action. Obituaries can contain all sorts of interesting information.

Hope this helps a bit.

LST_164

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Hi Clive,

the information you need would have been in his Service Record, naming his wife and any dependent children. Unfortunately, this series of records was bombed in London during the Blitz in 1940, and only about one-third survived.

At the moment the surviving "R" surnames are not listed on Ancestry.co.uk, though they will be along in the near future. Your only immediate way of checking would be at the National Archives, Kew, London where there is a complete microfilm set available.

The Army's basic casualty list, Soldiers Died in the Great War, states that he was born at Llangollen and enlisted at Wrexham. His Medal Roll index card states that he qualified for the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal by entering the "Balkan" theatre of war on 28 June 1915 (in other words he entered the general Gallipoli war zone then): his battalion actually landed at Gallipoli on 16 July following.

His regimental number is a trifle low for a New Army recruit of 1914-15: the 8th was the first "Kitchener" battalion of the RWF and its new recruits tended to have numbers in the series 11,000-12,999. It is possible, if a little unlikely, that he was a Territorial as these units had lower numbers. Alternatively he may have been a pre-War Special Reservist (before 1908 the Militia), whose numbers would have reached c6000 in about ?1912 (no.7000 issued early in 1914).

The man to ask about the significance of this RWF number is Forum member "Grumpy", who is on a long holiday in Australia for some weeks to come.

Lastly, you may be able to find out more by consulting the local newspapers for his home area for the period just following his death in action. Obituaries can contain all sorts of interesting information.

Hope this helps a bit.

LST_164

A wealth of imformation, thanks a million, Clive.

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I checked on the National Archives, and there are three Royal Welsh with this service number. One, Patrick Flynn came to France with the 1st RWF in 1914, so probably a Regular or Regular Reservist. Number Two, Thomas Edwards, went to France with the 4th battalion (territorial force) also in 1914, renumbered in 1917 also with a 4th battalion number and a TEM to boot.

The last one is your grandfathers brother, who might be assumed a Special Reservist based on the above.

BTW, I have the medal to a 5272 George Henry Richards, also 8th RWF in Gallipoli but entering in october; he survived and had service in WWII, earning a defence medal. This man is most probably also a Special Reservist based on the same exclusion method, there are already Regulars and Territorials filling the same number.

Kind regards,

Lars

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I checked on the National Archives, and there are three Royal Welsh with this service number. One, Patrick Flynn came to France with the 1st RWF in 1914, so probably a Regular or Regular Reservist. Number Two, Thomas Edwards, went to France with the 4th battalion (territorial force) also in 1914, renumbered in 1917 also with a 4th battalion number and a TEM to boot.

The last one is your grandfathers brother, who might be assumed a Special Reservist based on the above.

BTW, I have the medal to a 5272 George Henry Richards, also 8th RWF in Gallipoli but entering in october; he survived and had service in WWII, earning a defence medal. This man is most probably also a Special Reservist based on the same exclusion method, there are already Regulars and Territorials filling the same number.

Kind regards,

Lars

Thanks Lars, what exactly is a special reservist? it was always assumed within the family that he was a Sargeant and was killed in France, but the records are showing that this was not the case,

regards Clive.

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Hello Clive

Flintshire residents were required by the local authority, at the request of William Gladstone, to submit a service index card for every soldier who served. It was meant to be a lasting memorial in recogniton of their sacrifice.

The card usually records their address, battalion, service number and weather they survived the war or not. Occasionally relatives have filled in details such as cause of death if they were known.

The next time i visit Flintshire archives i will look up his service card and let you know what it says.

Regards

Gareth

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Hello Clive

Flintshire residents were required by the local authority, at the request of William Gladstone, to submit a service index card for every soldier who served. It was meant to be a lasting memorial in recogniton of their sacrifice.

The card usually records their address, battalion, service number and weather they survived the war or not. Occasionally relatives have filled in details such as cause of death if they were known.

The next time i visit Flintshire archives i will look up his service card and let you know what it says.

Regards

Gareth

Hi Gareth,

thank you I appreciate your help, I have also taken LST_164,s advice and phoned the Wrexham newspaper archives, the librarian at the Palmer centre is going to look at the microfilm to see if there is any mention of my Uncle,

regards Clive.

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Hi Gareth,

thank you I appreciate your help, I have also taken LST_164,s advice and phoned the Wrexham newspaper archives, the librarian at the Palmer centre is going to look at the microfilm to see if there is any mention of my Uncle,

regards Clive.

I have received an answer from the archives ( see below), I now know that this is definately my Uncle, the mention of the Dardanelles is new information, does anyone have anything on the Royal Welsh in this area. It brings home to you as you sit in comfort the terrible hardships the families went through after news of their loss reached them, and makes you thankful for their sacrifice. Hoping that I will find more on these relatives,

thanks for the help, Clive

Dear Mr Richards,

I have now checked the Wrexham Advertiser and North Wales Guardian but have been unable find a report of the death of John Richards. He does appear in the Wrexham Advertiser 25th August 1915 amongst the list of casualties of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. I have however found a mention of him in the Wrexham Deanery magazine under the Llanfynydd parish entry and I have quoted it below:-

Wrexham Ruridecanal Magazine September 1915

Llanfynydd

"We regret that the war has claimed another victim from our little parish in John Richards, Ffrith, a fine and promising soldier. He fell in action in the Dardanelles, July 24th. We deeply sympathise with the young widow and children and other relatives.

Llanfynydd is in the county of Flintshire. There are no reports in the two newspapers we hold of any Llanfynydd news so I would advise you to contact the Flintshire Record Office (www.flintshire.gov.uk/archives) archives@wrexham.gov.uk and ask if they have any newspapers which may cover this area. They also hold a card index roll of honour of Flintshire men who served and died in the First World War. I can see on the Great War Forum that someone has volunteered to look up the card for you so perhaps you could prevail on them to check the newspaper.

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The Dardanelles was a term in use at the time for the Gallipoli area, the Dardanelles being a stretch of sea. Your great Uncle is commemorated on the Helles memorial at the tip of the Gallipoli Penninsula, therefore he died in the area.

The Gallipoli Association website is here

http://www.gallipoli-association.org/default.asp

They have a forum.

Regards, Michelle

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Clive,

re. the 8th RWF they were raised at the Depot in Wrexham August 1914, and allocated to 40th Brigade, 13th Division. They trained at Tidworth, Draycott near Swindon, and in Feb. 1915 Blackdown, Aldershot.

Most of the battalion sailed from Avonmouth on the SS Megantic on 29 June. They reached Malta on 5 July, and Alexandria on the 8th. Some officers managed to go ashore, but not the men and on 10 July they set off again for Lemnos. Mudros Bay on this island was reached on the 12th. However, it seems they only disembarked on the 15th and the same day were ordered to Gallipoli.

They landed on 16 July at Helles and served as a Divisional Reserve at Gully Ravine. They took over part of the front line next day. The weather was baking hot, the air filled with the stench of dead bodies, and the flies legion. Food and water were in short supply. Men went down quickly with diarrhoea and dysentery in consequence; but officially the Front was "quiet". They were relieved on 30 July and sent back that day to Lemnos (though they returned to fight at Anzac a little later).

I can't find out exactly what was happening at the time your relative was killed, but the Battalion's War Diary may give further details. Copies can be had online from the National Archive for about £8.50 for a month's entries, I think. The war Diaries are in the series WO/95.

Hope this may help.

LST_164

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Hi Gareth,

thank you I appreciate your help, I have also taken LST_164,s advice and phoned the Wrexham newspaper archives, the librarian at the Palmer centre is going to look at the microfilm to see if there is any mention of my Uncle,

regards Clive.

Hi Gareth,

once again thanks for the help the Flintshire record office has sent me the details on the card index roll of honour ( see below) , it says he lived at Plough cottage Ffrith, I have searched maps but no mention of that cottage, maybe it has gone or has been renamed, but I am getting closer,

Regards Clive.

Flintshire Record Office

The Old Rectory

Hawarden

CH5 3NR

Yes, we do have some more information - contained on the card index roll of honour as was suggested. The details from this are:

Name: John Thomas Richards

Address: Plough Cottage, Ffrith, near Wrexham

Regimental Number: 6111

Unit of H M Forces: RWF [Royal Welch Fusiliers]

Period of Service: 13 Years

Rank on Demobilisation: Private

Special Remarks re. Service: Served in India and China and Gallipoli

If Deceased or Missing (give particulars): Killed on July 24th 1915 at Gallipoli

Date: 2nd October 1919

Signed: Edward Humphreys

We have the County Herald and Flintshire Observer as possibilities, but having a quick look at the right dates, these don't seem to cover Llanfynydd / Ffrith very well.

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That's very interesting,

it suggests that rather than being a Special Reservist, he was Regular Army. The SR and its pre-1908 predecessors the Militia didn't serve in India or China - but the 2nd Battalion RWF did.

They took part in the Relief of the Legations at Pekin during the "Boxer Rising" of 1900 (remember the 1950s film with Charlton Heston, 55 Days at Peking ?), and also served in India in the Edwardian period as chronicled by Frank Richards' Old Soldier Sahib (still in print).

The 2nd RWF was posted to Hong Kong in January 1900 and part of the unit served in North China against the Boxers from June until November. In 1901 further detachments served at Tientsin, and the battalion moved to India in 1902, then Burma in 1907, back to India 1910, and finally to the UK March 1914.

If he were a Regular soldier, the normal practice up to 1902 would be to sign on for 12 years, of which 7 years were with the regiment and 5 as a Reservist liable to recall in case of emergency. He would have to turn up annually to fire a range course etc., but otherwise could continue in a civilian occupation. If overseas or in a state of war when his regimental or reserve service was due to run out, the authorities could insist on a further year's extra service.

According to a published article by "Grumpy" (still in Australia) the Regular RWF issued numbers in the 6000-6999 range in about 1899-1901 so service in China 1900-02 wouldn't be impossible. His view on this man's service would be worth having.

LST_164

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I was obviously wrong about him being a special reservist, but thought the 2nd battalion had not reached over 6000 in numbers by 1900. Live and learn as they say.

Sorry!

/Lars

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Lars,

source: "Stand To!" Number 68, September 2003 p6ff. Goes into that sort of detail about the RWF as a whole that I think you'd find interesting.

LST_164

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