Richmond J

Private 14712 John Richmond, 10th Battalion West Yorks


Killed in action 1st July, 1916

John Richmond was born in 1896 in Egton, North Yorkshire, the son of Thomas Richmond, a schoolmaster from Ramsgill in the West Riding and Mary Hannah Peacock, from Farndale, in North Yorkshire. His parents had married in Helmsley district in 1886, and had altogether 9 children, though in 1911 only six were surviving.

Thomas Richmond's work took him from place to place, and amongst other locations he lived and worked variously at Lockton near Whitby, Harwood in County Durham and Newby in Stokesley Parish where we find him in the 1911 census with his widowed mother, his wife, their daughters Florence, Hilda, Elizabeth Eleanor and his younger brother Gilbert. He seems to have been teacher at Newby school, and his wife and eldest daughter are recorded as assistant teacher.

John Richmond at this time was still at the Church of England School in Newby, but he did not follow his father and mother into education; The Book of Remembrance tells us that John worked for the North Eastern Railway Company. at the time of his enlistment he was a greaser in the locomotive (carriage and wagon department) at Erimus (Middlesbrough?)1

It was at Middlesbrough, that John Richmond enlisted, as Private 14712, West Yorkshire Regiment. His first posting abroad came on 10th September 1915, and he was wounded at the Battle of Loos in the same month. Private Richmond was sent back to England to recover, and seven months afterwards, fit for service once more, he was posted back to the Front. The Book of Remembrance which (apparently mistakenly) claims that John was an only son, tells us the sad tale that as he bade farewell to his father at the station, John uttered the poignant, prophetic words:

"I won't be coming back this time"

It was in fact to be Private Richmond's misfortune to be involved in one of the initial offensives which opened the Battle of the Somme. He fell on the 1st July, 1916, the first day of the campaign, his awards records confirming that he “Died in Action”. On this one black day the British Army lost nearly 60,000 men, killed and wounded. The vast majority of these casualties were sustained within the first hour of the battle.

John Richmond's own battalion was involved in the Battle for Fricourt, which was a village just inside the German front line and one of the primary targets of the initial attacks. Famously, the attack on Fricourt was to have been delayed by up to an hour to give other units the chance to put out of action a number of enemy heavy machine guns which commanded the area in front of the village, but the battalion's commanding officer ignored the instruction and the attack went in at 7.30am with the gun positions still intact. Even before the end of the barrage which preceded the attack, No Man's Land was being swept with fire from 6 heavy machine guns. The attack by the West Yorkshires was doomed before it began. On what remains still the darkest day in the history of the British Army, the Fricourt attack was the blackest spot. Official records tell the tragic story of 710 officers and men of the 10th West Yorkshire Regiment becoming casualties.

Private Richmond was only 20 years old when he fell, and was awarded the Victory Medal, the British War Medal and the 1915 Star. His body lies in Fricourt New Military Cemetery. His headstone has written upon it:

”Son of Thomas and Mary Richmond of 10 Redcar Road, South Bank, Yorkshire. Born at Egton Yorkshire”

Private Richmond is also commemorated on the Newby War Memorial

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