Pte. R. E. Richards

Grandad's time in the trenches

By Mel Turner

Pte. R. E. Richards
Medal Index Card
Reuel Evans Richards post war

WW1 WAR RECORD for R.E. Richards


Enlisted in Hull on the 10 September 1914 into the DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY (D.L.I), aged 27 years 8 months. He stated his trade at time of enlistment as Blacksmith.

Rank: Pte number 13645, named on army character card as, “Renel* Richards”. Complexion “Dark”, eyes “Brown”, hair “Brown”, height believed to be 6’1’’.

* Probably misspelled at time of enlistment from Reuel






Wenlock Barracks, Anlaby Road, Hull

Enlisted in D.L.I*

War declared on 4 th August 1914

*Recruitment for the 7 th (Hull) Battalion of the East Yorkshire regiment took place on 1 st September 1914 at Wenlock barracks (later renamed the 10 th Battalion EY regiment “The Hull Pals”). In charge was Major William H Carver who had been asked the night before by his friend Lord Nunburnholme, the Lord Lieutenant East Yorks to raise a battalion as part of Kitcheners army. This battalion was made up exclusively of commercial people, clerks, grocers, drapers etc who did not wish to mix with people of the “lower orders”. On that basis as a working class blacksmith Granddad would not have been accepted into the battalion. Other Hull battalions were nicknamed the “Tradesmen”, the “Sportsmen” and the “T’others”. A total of 20,000 men from Hull who joined up in the first months of the war. People not accepted into the local groups could enlist in a regiment of their choice, and this may explain why he later enlisted with the DLI, or the DLI may have also been recruiting in Hull area at that time.

See “The Trench” by Richard Van Emden published by Corgi books for an account of a repro trench experience shown on BBC 2 in 2002.

16.09.1914 to end November 1914

Bullswater Camp, near Purbright, Surrey. Assigned to 13 th Battalion DLI commanded by Colonel G A Ashby C.B to July 8 th . Succeeded by Major J R O’Connell

Training camp

Cold, wet conditions

End November1914 to end February 1915

Malplaquet Barracks, Aldershot

Training camp

2 weeks in this period spent at Wokingham.

End February 1915 to 23.05.1915

Ashford, Kent

By train from Aldershot to Ashford into billets.

Khaki uniforms issued, musketry training, brigade exercises

23.05.1915 to 25.08.1915

Bramshott, Hampshire

By train from Ashford to Bramshott camp into billets

A new camp off Portsmouth road between Hindhead and Liphook, Hampshire


25.08.1915 to 26.08.1915

Folkestone to Boulogne

Entered France

Arrived early hours of 26 th August 1915, possibly transported by commercial paddle steamer.

26.08.1915 to 27.08.1915

Moulle, Northern France

Marched to billets

Arr. billets 27 th August.

Moulle nr St Omer, SE of Calais

27.08.1915 to 06.09.1915

Moulle, Northern France



Whole brigade (68 th brigade of 23 rd Division)

Marched to Hazebrouck

Hazebrouck, East of St Omer


Whole brigade (68 th brigade of 23 rd Division)

Marched to vicinity of Steenwerck

Steenwerck, SSW of Ypres


Whole brigade (68 th brigade of 23 rd Division)

Marched south to Erquinghem

13 th battalion billeted at Petit Moulin on the River Lys. S of Ypres, East of Lille


Stood to arms, but not used. 6 men of “C” company 13 th battalion wounded in bivouac by German anti aircraft shell

Major British offensive Bois Grenier to Armentieres region

P.M 26.09.1915

12 th and 13 th battalions,DLI

Marched down through Estaires

Billeted for night on the Le Bassee road


12 th and 13 th battalions

Marched back to Petit Moulin

28.09.1915 to 04.10.1915

12 th and 13 th battalions

Marched back again to Estaires under orders of the 20 th division

Moved to bivouacs near Erquinghem 4 th October.


13 th Battalion,

Relieved the 12 th in the trenches beyond Bois Grenier

Very wet weather, trenches in terrible condition


13 th DLI

Lance Corp Claire and Pte Hickson won MM

Towards end October weather so wet some working parties cancelled


13 th DLI

Pte Kenny won V.C for bravery under fire trying to rescue wounded officer


13 th DLI

Holding the left of the line near the Lille road. Lance Corp Hornby and Pte Worton won DCM

Daring raid on German held position

known as German house.

Christmas leave for some? No record of this for Grandad


13 th DLI

Before leaving sector heavy bombardment killed 5 and wounded 14 men.


13 th DLI

Moved to Sailley, Lille

Wintry weather


13 th DLI

Reached Morbeque, SW of Ypres,ENE of Lille.

Wintry weather


13 th DLI

Auchel, nr Lillers, WSW of Lille

Rain, hail, snow

Early march 1916

13 th DLI

Hermin, SW of Lille, NW of Arras

Improved weather


13 th DLI

Calonne, W of Lille, NE of Lillers

Into trenches, enemy aggressive some

men wounded on 19.03,1916.

Total casualties 13 th “only 132” –

few battalions spent 7 months on the

Western Front with such light casualties.


13 th DLI


Joined in with bombardment of enemy


Early April 1916

13 th DLI


Enemy bombardment intense, extensive

damage to trenches.

“A” company heavily shelled near Pit Prop

corner where a slag heap continually



13 th DLI


All occupants of a dug out from “C”

company killed


13 th DLI


Hoax attack, 13 th in cellars in Calonne in



13 th DLI

Moved back

Much work strengthening

communication trenches etc over hill

from Bully Grenay, WNW of Lens

26.04.1916 to 05.05.1916

13 th DLI

Arrived in Pernes

SW of Lillers


13 th DLI

Moved to Reclinghem, W of Lillers.

Resumed training, Capt G white in



13 th DLI

Souchez sector. SW of Lens on the Vimy ridge

Back in the line, much fighting with rifle

grenades and trench mortars


13 th DLI

Souchez sector

Tear gas attack on trenches

23 &24.05.1916

13 th DLI

Souchez sector

Gas alerts


13 th DLI

Souchez sector

Raiding party killed at least 8 Germans

and bombed dugouts in German trenches.

*I think I remember granddad telling me

something about this?


13 th DLI

Souchez sector

Huge German reaction, heavy shelling.

Attack expected but did not materialise.


13 th DLI

Souchez sector

“Day of hate”, relieved by 12th that evening.

05.06.1916 to 13.06.1916

13 th DLI

Notre Dame de Lorette spur. Arras

Tour in support


13 th DLI

Moved to Delettes, S of St Omer

Major R V Turner now in command


13 th DLI

Divisional commander presented medals and decorations won in the Souchez raid

MC to Lieuts Clarke and Target, and

MM to Sergts Boagey and White,

Lance Corps Bowran and Hetherington,

Pts Barker, Dodds, Hart, Hedley, Keenan, Middleton, Moyle, Orr, Stephenson and



13 th DLI

Marched to Aire and entrained for the Somme along with 12 th battalion

Aire-sur-la-Lys, NW of Lillers



13 th battalion, DLI

Picquigny, NW of Amiens, W of Albert

“Comfortable days”!


13 th DLI

South of Albert

In reserve trenches along railway



13 th DLI

Becourt Wood

Pouring rain, wood crowded with guns,

cookers ,reserves of 69 th brigade. 12 th

battalion bivouacked in the wood, 13 th

returned to Albert.


13 th DLI

Becourt Wood

In reserve until 4pm 7 th July


13 th DLI

West of Contalmaison

Waist deep in mud, dark, trenches

crowded with wounded and carrying



13 th DLI

West of Contalmaison

By dawn occupying line from Birch Tree

Avenue near Peake wood to captured

strong point at the crossroads. Heavy

shelling from German lines. 2 nd Lieut

Wheatley and 21 wounded, 7 others

killed or missing.


13 th DLI

West of Contalmaison

Dug in from crossroads and 500yards

south. Attacked Bailiff Wood but fire

from own guns together with enemy

m/c guns made position untenable.

80 men killed or wounded. Lt Kerridge

mortally wounded.


13 th DLI


Contalmaison captured by 69 th brigade.

Two platoons of a company 13 th helped consolidate.

11.07.1916 to 15.07.1916

13 th DLI

Marched back to billets in Albert.

Before returning to Albert, Capt Long,

2 nd Lieuts Wharton and Green wounded,

58 casualties in the ranks.

Lieut G S Kaye-Butterworth (famous

composer and musician) awarded

MC and took command of “A”

Company 13 th .


12 th and 13 th battalions, DLI


12 th battalion moved forward on

evening of the 16 th to a line in front of

what was Pozieres before the shelling.

13 th took over trenches from the 6 th

Bedford regiment near Contalmaison



12 th and 13 th battalions, DLI


At 8pm 12 th were to advance upon

enemy trenches which crossed the road

to Contalmaison south of Pozieres and

extended to the Bapaume road. 13 th to

occupy the line vacated by the 12 th .

12 th advanced to find the wire uncut and into

a hail of bullets from machine guns. 130

men killed.

13 th lost 50 men in two days from



13 th battalion, DLI

Pozieres to Albert

Relieved by Australian division and

withdrew to Albert under a barrage of

gas shells.

20.07.1916 to 26.07.1916

13 th DLI

Franzvillers, SW of Albert

68 th brigade r/c drafts, inspections held

and MM presented to Sergt Fitzpatrick

and Ptes Hutchinson and Suddes of 13 th .


13 th DLI


Occupying support trenches in

Contalmaison village


13 th DLI

NE of Contalmaison, SE of Pozieres

Took over front line trenches O.G.1 and

O.G.2 (Old German) linked to German

front line by Munster Alley where

several unsuccessful attacks had

previously taken place.

28.07.1916 to end of July.

13 th DLI

NE of Contalmaison, SE of Pozieres

“A” company gained some ground by

digging Butterworth trench.10 men

wounded. Lt Sauerbeck attacked up

Munster Alley with bombers. 50 men

lost in the ranks. Relieved that night by

10 th Duke of Wellingtons, returned to

Albert. Lieut Colonel R W Turner left

battalion due to ill health and was

replaced by Major G White MC.


13 th DLI

Peake Wood


13 th DLI

NE of Contalmaison, SE of Pozieres

Back in front line by evening. During the

night a sap was dug from Butterworth

trench towards the German switch line,

and Munster Alley bombing post



13 th DLI

NE of Contalmaison, SE of Pozieres

British shells falling short, D company

had to evacuate hard won position.

Relieved in the evening and withdrew to

dug outs near Contalmaison.29 casualties


13 th DLI

NE of Contalmaison, SE of Pozieres

On the afternoon of the 4 th moved to

Point 41 in trench O.G 2 ready for

attack on Tore trench and junction with

Munster Alley. “D” company in New

trench, “A” company in Butterworth,”B”

company at point 41 and barricade in

Munster alley,”C” company in Gloster

Alley. Attack set for 9.16pm. British

artillery were ineffective and”D”

company were exposed to enfilade

machine gun fire at close range and

effectively wiped out. A block was

made up Munster Alley and held

against repeated counter attacks by the

second wave of 13 th . Fighting continued

all night and into the 5 th August.


13 th DLI

NE of Contalmaison, SE of Pozieres

The brigadier called upon the 13 th for a

further effort. British shells were falling

short however and the bomb fight still

raged in Munster Alley where Lt Target

MC fought and died with most of his

men. On the evening of the 5 th the 8 th

Yorkshire regt took over and the 13 th

moved back to Albert.

Lieut Kaye Butterworth killed (English

composer and friend of Vaughan

Williams). Casualties in the ranks 126

Almost certainly including Pte Richards.

Sergt Galley, Corpl Bellerby, lance Corp

Claire and Ptes Anderson, Brough,

Dickenson, Hickson, Kerr, Luke, Maughan,

Simms and Wilkinson

all awarded MM for gallantry displayed

during these operations.


Left France

Wounded in arm and affected by gas,

Grandad was treated initially in France

then shipped home on the 8 th August.



Final discharge papers issued.

“No longer physically fit for war” after

serving 2 years and 144 days with the

colours. Age 30 years and 3 months.

Grandad awarded Victory Medal, British War Medal, 1915 Star and Silver War Badge.

Entitled to wear one gold wound strip*

* on discharge papers, should be stripe?

This page was added on 28/03/2014.

Comments about this page

  • Thank you for your service, granduncle, Reuel. I wish I had a chance to know you better. Rest in Peace. Mel, if you want to get in touch with me, please email! I have a copy of the marriage certificate between Thomas E Richards and Elizabeth Steeksma.

    By Linda Delbridge (13/04/2014)
  • Reuel E Richards was my great uncle. His brother Grotius was my Grandfather and I would be appreciative of any information you may have [or photos of him] I am doing my family history. Do you have a photo of Reuel’s mother Minnie Gertrude Richards? – my grandmother. My mother is IRENE JOHNSON nee RICHARDS a daughter of Grotius.

    By ANN STOREY (24/09/2014)