Saturday 2 May 2015


Arthur Richards(on) (Private No. 10060)2nd Battalion South Wales Borderers - 87th Brigade - 29th Division

Arthur was born on January 26th 1889, and probably did not move to Eton Wick until 10 years later. He attended the Windsor National School until he was 10 years old, and first registered at Eton Porny on February 7th 1899, leaving there on March 15th 1903 to take up farm work. No evidence has been found to suggest that Arthur was anything other than an early war time volunteer. 

He was 25 years old when war was declared and his Battalion, the 2nd South Wales Borderers, were at that time serving in Tientsin, China, where Germany had substantial influence. On September 23rd 1914 they were landed at Lao Shan Bay for operations in conjunction with allied Japanese Army Units against Tsingtao. Six weeks later, on December 4th, they embarked at Hong Kong, and landed in Plymouth on January 12th 1915. 

The Battalion moved to Rugely where they became part of the 87th Brigade, 29th Division, and on March 17th 1915 they sailed from Avonmouth to Alexandria, arriving in Egypt 12 days later.

The 29th Division was the last of three Divisions formed in the U.K. with mainly professional soldiers brought home from overseas service and were often referred to as the C. in C. General Hamilton's, "Piece de Resistance". They were in fact the only Division available at the time for the forthcoming Dardanelles offensive without taking troops from the western front. 

During the war the S.W.B. had a total of 18 Battalions, but only the 2nd served in Gallipoli for the initial April attack. Three months later the 4th Battalion S.W.B. was also landed on Gallipoli. From the outset the campaign was poorly planned, suffering a severe shortage of drinking water, ammunition and reinforcements. Divisions sent to the Western Front had gone with an initial 10% reserve of men for casualty replacements. Despite the greater distance to send supplies and men, there was no initial reserve at Gallipoli. British, French, New Zealanders and Australians were landed at five beaches on the peninsula, starting the offensive on April 25th 1915.

Three of the four S.W.B. companies went ashore at Hassarlik Point, Morto Bay, just inside the narrow Dardanelle Straits, intent on advancing inland, past the 88th Brigade and taking the Achi Baba Hill. The first day was reasonably successful and casualties were less than 100. Unfortunately the overall progress was not good and the Borderers were unable to break away from their beach head as planned. The Turkish defenders were always brave and determined fighters, with their many snipers taking a steady daily toll of the allied troops. By day five, April 30th, the 29th Division had suffered 4,266 men and 187 officer casualties for no appreciable advance. 
The Helles Memorial

Three days after the S.W.B. had landed in Morto Bay they were fighting against fierce opposition along Gully Ravine in a combined, but unsuccessful, attempt to capture Krithia. All were very exhausted, and the shortage of shells and adequate replacements was proving too much against an enemy defending familiar terrain and receiving steady reinforcements. It was here, in front of Krithia, that Arthur Richards died. He has no known grave and so is commemorated on the Helles Memorial at the south west tip of the peninsula. It stands 100 feet high, and from its commanding position is a well recognised mark for shipping. The memorial records the names of 20,765 men who fell during the campaign between April 25th 1915 and January 1916 and have no known graves. In December and early January all allied troops were withdrawn. 

Arthur was a difficult soldier to research as, for some un-established reason, he chose to serve under a different name. His father's name was also Arthur, and when they moved to Eton Wick they lived in Albert Place, Common Road. There was another lad with the same name living only a few doors away who was five years younger. Perhaps because there were three Arthur Richards living so close together, he was prompted to serve as Arthur Richardson. The C.W.G.C. has no trace of Arthur Richards of the 2nd S.W.B. Fortunately the Regimental Museum in Brecon suggested and pursued the idea of an alias. They then located Arthur Richardson, whose next of kin was given as Eliza Richards of Albert Place, Eton Wick. They record his death as May 2nd 1915, although the local paper was at variance, giving the date as May 15th 1915. 

It is believed Arthur had one brother, and the family lived on in Albert Place for many more years. Arthur is also recorded on Eton Wick Memorial and on the Eton Church Gates. In both instances his name is correctly given as Richards. On the Helles Memorial he is commemorated as A. Richardson.

and published here with grateful thanks to the author Frank Bond.

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