Second Lieutenant Richard Ivor Richens
18th Battalion London Regiment (London Irish Rifles)
Lieutenant Richens was the son of Richard and Bridget Richens, of 'Highclose', Hungerford. His home address was at Hopgrass, Hungerford but it is not known where he was living when he enlisted. For more about his family, see Hopgrass Farm.
He was attested on 30 Sep 1915 into the 28th Battalion the London Regiment (Artists Rifles) at Dukes Road in London. He was shown as C of E and foreign. He was aged 18 years and described as 5 foot, 5 inches tall, chest expansion of 34.5 inches (Expansion 3 inches), vision right eye 6/6, left eye 6/6, and Physical development, fair.
He served at home with this battalion from the time of joining to 3 Mar 1916 after which he was sent on an officer training course. As a result of this he was discharged on the 10th July 1916 and was commissioned into the 1st/18th London Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant.
He died on Saturday, 14 Apr 1917, age 19.
He has no known grave and is commemorated on memorial to the missing at the London Cemetery, Neuville-Vitasse, Pas de Calais, France, Wancourt Road Cemetery, No 2. He is also commemorated with a brass plaque in St Lawrence's Church, Hungerford.
- The cap badge of the 18th London Regiment (London Irish)
- The Commonwealth War grave cemetery at Neuville Vitasse where Lt Richens is buried.
- The brass plaque in St Lawrence's Church, Hungerford.
"Mac" MacIntyre's original text on Richard Richens stated:
"On the 14th April, the day that he died, the battalion was in training at Steenvorde. Neither his death nor wounding was recorded in the war diary. It is probable that he was wounded on the 7th April.
The War Diary 7th April 1917 reads:
Zero hour 8.0pm, battalion carried out a minor operation. All objectives were gained successfully but there was a delay owing to the extraordinary bad state of No Mans Land and the ground between the enemies' front and support lines. The withdrawal was carried out successfully but very slowly owing to a heavy enemy barrage. A stubborn resistance was met with and many of the enemy were killed. 18 prisoners were taken. Several emplacements and dugouts were destroyed and one heavy machine gun. Battalion relieved to Halifax Camp at 2.30 am. (We believe he was wounded during this action)."
However, Ian Purvis kindly contacted the Virtual Museum (Aug 2014) saying that he believes this information to be wrong. He wrote:
"I have read you biography of Richard Ivor Richens, sadly killed in April 1917, on your excellent Hungerford history website. Can you please draw to attention of the author that I believe he or she is very mistaken in description of the death of Richard Richens.
He is described as wounded in an action which took place between St. Eloi and Hill 60 near Ypres, and the quoted battalion war diary is indeed accurate in description of this action at Ypres. But he was not with this battalion.
Memorials and records show that Richard Ivor Richens was buried at Arras, many many miles away. This would not have been an area to which he would have been evacuated, had he been killed at Ypres.
In Feb/March 1917, he was attached to 16 Queens Westminster Rifles.
Consequently he was involved in a battalion attack on April 14 1917. The attack was not well thought out; artillery did not not destroy enemy machine guns, and flanking attacks never materialised. The battalion walked into trouble and took severe casualties.
Richard Richens, leading his platoon in A company was one of the many fatalities that day.
This action, at Cherisy, was only several km from Wancourt road cemetery, where he was originally buried, and not many more km from the cemetery where his name is remembered now."