Thursday, June 01, 2017

8030 Private Henry Walter Richardson, 1st Dorset Regiment

8030 Private Henry Walter Richardson was a career soldier who was probably a convalescent patient at Hickwells in early 1915.  He has two entries in Nurse Oliver’s album, both along similar lines.  The first reads:

8030 Pte H. Richardson
1st Batt Dorset Regt

Was caught napping by
the famous General (one) O clocks
Artillery at Missy [this is crossed out and “Missines” written on top] stopping
three shrapnell bullets and his only
regret is that he couldn’t get his

This page is shared with entries from L/6738 Private Charles Sabourin of the 1st East Surrey Regiment and Corporal Albert Brandon of the 7th Middlesex Regiment.  The second entry reads:

Wounded at Messines by shrapnel receiving
three Bullets, Hand Shoulder & Head

What ever I may do
Or wherever I may be
I shall remember all of you
For your kindnesses to me.

Oh if ever I get the Chance
To see some more of those Alamand
I will just make some of them Dance
For their injury to my Hand

Henry's entry is along very similar lines to that of Private Sabourin and one gets the feeling that they had much in common.  Both were regular soldiers, both served with the 5th Infantry Division and both received severe wounds in the early stages of the war which would finish their part in the action.  In their few lines the two men both express disappointment, regret and bitterness at being wounded and both mourn the opportunity of not being able to exact some revenge.  “General One O’Clock:”, mentioned in Richardson’s first entry is General Von Kluck who commanded the German First Army.  The “Alamand” in his second entry are “Allemands”, French for “Germans”.

Henry Richardson’s military history is sketchy but we can piece together some basic details.  His medal index card notes that he has a middle initial (W), while his entry on the silver war badge roll records the fact that he enlisted on 28th August 1906.  This almost certainly marks him as a reservist who was recalled to the colours immediately war was declared.  There are just too many men with the name Henry Walter Richardson to identify him with confidence on census returns but if he joined the army in 1906, assuming he joined as a man rather than a boy, he would have been born around 1888 or earlier.

The 1st Dorset Regiment arrived in France on 16th August 1914 and was soon in action at Mons and Le Cateau.  Henry Richardson could have been wounded in these early battles as his name appears in a casualty list published in The Times on the 23rd October 1914, this list in turn reported from the Base on the 20th September 1914.

Henry was discharged form the army as medically unfit on 17th February 1916.  He was entitled to the 1914 Star and bar, and the British War and Victory Medals.  He also received a silver war badge.

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