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Captain MERVYN STRONGE RICHARDSON

14 posts in this topic

Mervyn Stronge richardson was a son of the village "Family". He is no more deserving than any other mentioned on the memorial i have started looking into , but he is i think a good place to start. I post this in the hope that other information can be found, and to share the story of his families grief, no greater than any other families grief, but expressed in a very different way.

Captain MERVYN STRONGE RICHARDSON ( MJ on memorial )

Mentioned in Despatches

1st Bn., Royal Welsh Fusiliers

who died age 21

on 19 March 1916

Youngest son of Capt. Arthur Percy Richardson and Ethel Mary Richardson, of Purton House, Purton, Wiltshire. Captain of the Boats, Radley College, Leander Club. Previously wounded April, 1915.

Remembered with honour

POINT 110 NEW MILITARY CEMETERY, FRICOURT

Second Lieutenant Mervyn Stronge Richardson has a personal file at PRO which can be read by the researcher. The number is WO 339 22618. His birth certificate states that he was born 21 June 1894 at Killynether Castle, Newtownard, Co Down. His father was an ‘Irish gentleman’ with eight years service as a Militia Captain in 5 Royal Irish Rifles. A great-grandfather was a Major in the Buffs who fought in the Peninsular War at Albuhera and the Nivelle. Richardson was educated at Bilton Grange, Rugby and at Radley College where he was an efficient member of the OTC. A Master’s reference on his file describes him as having an excellent character and distinctly above average in trustworthiness and leadership. He was a Prefect and was made Captain of Boats and rowed at 6 in the successful VIII of 1912. He attended the RMC and was commissioned 15 August 1914, just after the outbreak of war. This young officer was a very early arrival with the unit, reaching them on 25 September 1914 and replacing Lieutenant Lloyd as OC IV Platoon in A Company. He contributed posthumously [by quotations from his correspondence] to TWTIK and RRRWF. Mervyn Richardson was soon in the thick of it. Promoted Lieutenant 31 October 1914, his letters home from the trenches complained of ‘feeling fearfully tired, being in the most awful state of filth, no wash for ten days and no other officer within 250 yards’. Nevertheless, he endured and did his duty, surviving to provide a most interesting account of the Christmas Truce near Armentières with A Company [the letter was filed by the War Office with the Battalion WD]. ‘The situation was so absurd, that another officer of ours’ [Captain Stockwell, his martinet of a company commander] ‘and myself went out and met seven of their [German] officers’. Private Frank Richards wrote of him that he was ‘popular with all of us and we were sorry to lose him from 2RWF’ when he was wounded on 10 April 1915. Richardson was admitted on 13 April to 3 General Hospital Tréport with a gunshot wound in the back. His subsequent service is not completely recorded, but he appears to have been wounded by an enemy grenade in September, was briefly hospitalised and embarked from England 30 September 1915 to go [or return] to 1RWF and arrived with them 7 October. He became OC A Company [Temporary Captain 7 October 1915] of that battalion, earning the admiration of Robert Graves who wrote ‘best company I ever served with’. The unit was on the Somme well before the offensive of that year and he was officially mortally wounded by a gunshot wound to the chest on 19 March 1916, although Robert Graves has it as heart failure following being blown by a shell into a shell hole full of water. Stockwell, by now his battalion commander, wrote to Richardson senior ‘I do not think he suffered though the shell gave him a number of superficial wounds. He died of shock …..’. Stockwell also went beyond the conventional sympathetic phrases ‘He was a splendid soldier and my most able and trusted company Commander. Always cheerful, sound, and hard working, an excellent disciplinarian and a real leader of men’. The telegram notifying his death did not specify any battalion and his father, clinging to hope, asked for clarification, which confirmed the dreadful news. The battalion Padre, Milner-White, wrote of his funeral ‘All the officers were present, and many men. The moon came out in the middle, and shone on the grey steel helmets of the group, and made the Union Jack that lay on the body gleam ……’ The burial was in fact a triple one, and included Second Lieutenants David Thomas and David Pritchard. Sassoon and Graves were both there: Sassoon wrote ‘Robert Graves, beside me, with his white whimsical face twisted and grieving’ [sD]. On 7 April 1916, Captain [Retired] Arthur Percy Richardson of Purton House, Purton, Wiltshire wrote to ask for his son’s effects. He added that his son had been recommended for an honour by GOC 7 Division and indeed the London Gazette of 15 May 1916 mentioned Mervyn in Despatches for gallant and distinguished conduct in the field, quoting a despatch by Haig dated 30 April 1916. Mervyn Stronge Richardson died a bachelor, intestate, and left £306..11..3. He was buried near Maple Redoubt at Point 110 New Military Cemetery and his headstone makes reference to his Captaincy of the Boats: ‘I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course. Leander’. His photograph, in uniform, was printed in ‘The Great War’, one of the popular periodicals which covered the progress of the conflict. His mother Ethel wrote Twenty One Years, and Remembrance Wakes as a form of memorial to him.

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His mother assisted with other villagers compiled a book containing a full record of the villagers who went to war & never returned as well as a full list of all villagers who saw service with the colours during the great war. Each month has a list of the dead & is displayed inside st mary`s church Purton to honour them.

A 17th Century bell was recast , on it the details of Captain RICHARDSON

It is one of nine bells in use today in the village Church

High above the villagers today who attend the church, a rememberence of one of the villagers , not often seen is rung load and clear.

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post-21863-1184704310.jpg

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A mother grief expressed by wrighting of the villagers war, not just her own.

Many thanks to Grumpy for his help so far, Alan at Purton Church for letting me view the Bell & for information gained from the Historical society

http://www.purtonmuseum.com/exhibits/2005-11.htm

post-21863-1184705501.jpg

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2nd Lt David Thomas ( "Dick Tiltwood" of Sasoons Memoirs of a Fox Hunting Man and Infantry Offier), Capt Richardson and Lt Pritchard are buried side by side in Point 110 New Military Cemetary one of the most evocative places on the Somme as it is so unchanged and undeveloped.(Picture below alittle fuzzy due to compression ...Now corrected sg). Robert Graves gives a moving account of their deaths in Goodbye To All That. To my mind that spot is where Sassoons outlook on the war changed leading up to his famous statment of defiance of military authority. Whenever I take a party there I like to stand and read their accounts of David Thomas' burial and read Sassoons poem " Aftermath" a very fitting and moving way to finish a tour, SG

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These are the three headstones, Lt to Right 2/lt Thomas; Capt Richardson ; Lt Pritchard.

(Again sorry for slightly fuzzy repro) SG

post-4532-1184791041.jpg

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Salientguide

many thanks for that, i havn`t seen a photo of the cemetary before. In such surroundings i find the atmospher more moving. There is anger in the sky in your photos very moving.

Regards for your time

bob

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Salientguide

many thanks for that, i havn`t seen a photo of the cemetary before. In such surroundings i find the atmospher more moving. There is anger in the sky in your photos very moving.

Regards for your time

bob

Bob thank you for the most interesting publications. Have had a play with the compressor and have managed to sharpen up the pics above a bit. As per your PM files pn way to your e-address

regards SG

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SG

Many thanks for your interest, time in sharpening the pics up & for sending me them to my e-mail.

Regards to all who view

Bob

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Account by Second Lieutenant MS Richardson , dated 31 December 1914, filed in PRO with 2nd RWF Battalion War Diary:

‘I will tell you of the extraordinary day we spent on Christmas Day. On Christmas Eve we had a sing-song with the men in the trenches, [this all applies to our company, A]. We put up a sheet of canvas, with a large ‘Merry Christmas’, and a portrait of the Kaiser painted on it, on the parapet. The next morning there was a thick fog, and when it lifted about 12, the Germans [saxons] who were only about 150 yards in front of us saw it, they began to shout across, and beckoning to our men to come half way and exchange gifts. They then came out of their trenches, and gave our men cigars and cigarettes, and 2 barrels of beer, in exchange for tins of bully beef. The situation was so absurd, that another officer of ours and myself went out, and met seven of their officers, and arranged that we should keep our men in their respective trenches, and that we should have an armistice until the next morning, when we would lower our Christmas card, and hostilities would continue. One of them presented me with the packet of cigarettes I sent you, and we gave them a plum pudding, and then we shook hands with them, and saluted each other, and returned to our respective trenches. Not a shot was fired all day, and the next morning we pulled our card down, and they put one up with ‘thank you’ on it’.

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The image referred to in Post #1 above from the magazine "The Great War". Not fantastic quality unfortunately.

post-23198-1184850662.jpg

Doug

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Grumpy

Many thanks for that, i know it shouldn`t make any difference but the Christmas 1914 aspect will make this more interesting for those who get to see the research i am doing.

Doug

Many thanks for the picture

Thanks for the interest & assistance

Regards

Bob

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Remembered on this Forum 19.03.13 :poppy:

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Remembering today Mervyn & his fellow RWF Officers who were killed on the evening of the 18th / 19th March. Thanks Diane

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