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Arthur Richardson

Private Arthur Richardson, 30253, West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Own), 22nd (Labour) Battalion

Arthur Richardson was born in Ossett on the 28th October 1889 and was baptised at Holy Trinity Church on the 1st December 1889. He was the third and youngest son of four surviving children born to Joseph Gower Richardson and his wife, Polly (nee Saxton), who married in late 1880. Polly was born in Horbury Bridge but the rest of the family were all born in Ossett. The couple had six children from their marriage but two children died before April 1911.

In 1891 and 1901 Joseph Richardson, wife Polly and their four children were living on Dale Street, Ossett, and latterly at Mitchell’s Row, Ossett where Joseph worked as a rag grinder. In 1911, Joseph, Polly and three of their four children, including Arthur, were living at 14 Church Street, Ossett. Joseph was a layer-on for a mungo manufacturer, but no occupation was given for 21 year-old Arthur.

In late 1911, Arthur Richardson married 17 year-old Ada Smith, the only child of Walter and Annie Smith of Victoria Street, Horbury. Arthur and Ada had a daughter, Nellie Richardson, born in Spring 1912, and the couple may have had more children with the birth of Annie in late 1914 and Ada in late 1917.

Arthur Richardson’s army service record has not survived, but it is known that Arthur enlisted on the 8th December 1915 and joined the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’ Own) with the service number 30253. He was discharged on medical grounds (sickness) on the 10th May 1917 and was awarded the Silver War Badge later the same year. The sterling silver war lapel badge was intended to be worn on the right breast while in civilian dress, it was forbidden to wear on a military uniform. It was issued to soldiers who had served in WW1, but who had been discharged due to illness or wounds.

Arthur Richardson was also posthumously awarded the British and Victory medals indicating that he did serve overseas, but this will have been after the 31st December 1915 since he was not awarded the 1914/15 Star.

The 22nd (Labour) Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment was formed in April 1916 at Millington near Pocklington. The battalion moved to France in May 1916 and was attached to Fifth Army as Army Troops. The formation became 1the 8th and 19th Labour Companies, Labour Corps in May 1917.

The Labour Corps were formed in February 1917 and lasted until 1921. It was made up of men that had been in the front line and who had been either wounded or taken ill and could not be returned to the front line or men who, on enlistment, were found to be too old or did not pass as fit enough to be sent to the front.

Among its ranks of the Labour Corps were a number of labour units, originally formed as Battalions of Infantry Regiments. These were of two types, Works Battalions and Labour Battalions, e.g. Arthur Richardson's 22nd (Labour) Battalion. When these were transferred from the infantry to the Labour Corps in the middle of 1917, the Works Battalions were (rather confusingly) re-designated Labour Battalions, while the original Labour Battalions were broken up and reformed as Independent Labour Companies.

By the November of 1918 some 400,000 men were serving in the Labour Corps. Being in this body of men did not stop you being killed by enemy action as some 9,000 men were killed. Their duties would have been anything from helping in stores, taking equipment up to the front, repairing roads and such like, and helping at rest areas.

Private Arthur Richardson, aged 29 years, son of Joseph G. Richardson and husband of Ada Richardson, of 'Glen Ayr', Windyridge Street, Horbury, died on the 6th November 1918. He is buried at grave reference F. 'U'. 345 at the Horbury Cemetery, 1 Dovecote Lane, Horbury.

References:

1. Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site