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Frederick William Richardson

Frederick William RichardsonCorporal Frederick W. Richardson, 1914, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, 1st/4th Battalion

Frederick William Richardson was born in Ossett in 1895, the fourth child and second son of Horbury-born Frederick W. Richardson and his wife, Durham-born Catherine (nee Farnhill), who were married in 1888.

In 1901, the family were living in Gomersal with six children: three girls and three boys. Frederick senior was a coal hewer. By 1911, Frederick, his wife and seven children have moved to 2, Hilda Street, Ossett and Frederick William junior was working as a trammer in a coal mine.

The 1/4th Battalion, Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry was a unit of the Territorial Force with HQ in Wakefield, serving with 3rd West Riding Brigade, West Riding Division. When war broke out in August 1914, the units of the Division had just departed for their annual summer camp, they were at once recalled to their home base and mobilised at once for war service, moving to Doncaster. In November they moved to Gainsborough and in February 1915 to York to prepare for service overseas, those men who had not volunteered for Imperial Service transferred to the newly formed 2/4th Battalion.

They proceeded to France, from Folkestone landing at Boulogne on the 12th of April 1915 and the Division concentrated in the area around Estaires. On the 15th of May the formation was renamed 148th Brigade, 49th (West Riding) Division. Their first action was in the The Battle of Aubers Ridge in May 1915. In 1916 They were in action in the Battles of the Somme. In 1917 they were involved in the Operations on the Flanders Coast and the The Battle of Poelcapelle during the Third Battle of Ypres. In 1918 they were in action during the Battles of the Lys, The pursuit to the Selle and the Final Advance in Picardy. At the Armistice, The 49th Division was resting at Douai, demobilisation began in early 1919.

It is most likely that Private Richardson died in the Battle of Pozieres Ridge, a subsidiary attack of the Somme Offensive, and launched on 23rd July 1916. The Battle of Pozieres Ridge on the Albert-Bapaume road saw the Australians and British fight hard for an area that comprised a first-rate observation post over the surrounding countryside, as well as the additional benefit of offering an alternative approach to the rear of the Thiepval defences.

The "Ossett Observer" 1 had this obituary for Private Richardson:

"South Ossett Territorial Killed - A Favourite Among His Comrades - The war has taken toll of the life of a popular member of the local detachment of Territorials in the person of Corporal Frederick William Richardson, of the K.O.Y.L.I. son of Mr. and Mrs. F. W. Richardson, of 1, Hilda-street, Station-road, Ossett. Deceased celebrated his 21st birthday in February last on the day he returned to the front, after a few days' leave. He was one of the men who was in camp with the local Territorials at Whitby when war was declared, and he had been on active service from that time until his death. The official intimation states that he was killed in action on the July 23rd. A postcard has been received by his parents, bearing the same date, stating that at the time of writing he was 'in the pink.' Of genial disposition, deceased was a favourite among his comrades. He was in the bomb-throwing section of his regiment. Before the war he worked at Manor Mill, South Ossett, and had been associated all his life with the St. Ignatius' Roman Catholic Church and School, South Ossett."

The following is an account of the action in the second phase of the Battle of the Somme, which took place on the 23rd July 1916, and where Private Frederick W. Richardson of 1/4 KOYLI lost his life. It is the same action that Ossett man 2nd Lieutenant Eli T. Archer lost his life and he is specifically mentioned as one of the casualties below: 2

"Sir Douglas Haigh, Commander-in-Chief of the British Armies in France, ordered the second great concentrated effort to be entered upon by the Fourth Army in the morning of the 14th July 1916 along the line from the Leipzig salient in the north to the point of junction with the French forces in the south. The high ground of the ridge to the east of the Bazentin villages and to the south-east of them, was the objective; the hold on the Leipzig salient was to be extended and Thiepval was to be threatened, but this northern end of the ridge was too strongly fortified to be carried by direct attack for the present.

The 4th and 5th Battalions of KOYLI had undergone re-organisation while in huts at Martinsart Woods and they returned to the trenches on the 21st July 1916. On the 23rd July at 2:30 a.m. part of the 4/KOYLI was ordered to attack with a view to extending the position in the salient. Heavy casualties were suffered when crossing No Man's Land and the enemy were found to be in force in their lines; the attackers were too much weakened to put up a fight and were forced to withdraw, having Lt. J.C. Plews wounded and 2/Lts. A.J. Mountain, E.T. Archer and J.C. Jubb killed. The enemy bombers counter-attacked up the trenches leading to our lines, but were beaten back by the 4th Bn bombers, assisted by those of 5/KOYLI and of the 4th and 5th Bns Y & L. In addition to the officers mentioned there were 66 casualties in other ranks, of whom 6 were killed (including Private Fred W. Richardson.) Lt.-Col. H.J. Haslegrave was wounded the following day."

The road to Pozieres in August 1916

Above: The road to Pozières, 1 August 1916. The view is north towards the village of Contalmaison, which is being shelled by the Germans.

Corporal Richardson's army service record has not survived, but his medal card records his award of the British, Victory and 1914/15 Star indicating that he served overseas before the 31st December 1915. His promotion to Corporal is also recorded.

Private Frederick William Richardson died on the 23rd July 1916, aged 21 years, and is buried at grave reference I. 14 at the Authuile Military Cemetery, 3 Somme, France. Authuile (now Authuille), is a village 5 Kms north of Albert. Authuile Military Cemetery is on the south side of the village.

The village was held by British troops from the summer of 1915 to March, 1918, when it was captured in the German Offensive on the Somme; it was ruined by shell fire even before that date.

The Military Cemetery was used by Field Ambulances and fighting units from August, 1915 to December, 1916, and in 1917 and 1918 by Indian Labour Companies.

There are now over 450, 1914-18 war casualties commemorated in this site. Of these, nearly 40 are unidentified and special memorials are erected to 18 soldiers from the United Kingdom, known or believed to be buried among them. The graves of two other German soldiers have been removed.

References:

1. "Ossett Observer", 12th August 1916

2. "History of the KOYLI", written in 1929 by Lt.-Col. R.C. Bond, Commanding Officer of the 2nd/KOYLI during WW1

3. Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site