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War Memorials

In Memory of
Lance Corporal 268883
11th Battalion Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment)
Who was Killed in Action on Wednesday, 23rd September 1918
Age 35

Plot IV Row D Grave 10
Highland Cemetery, Le Cateau, Nord, France

Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Remembered with Honour
Highland Cemetery

Highland Cemetery, Le Cateau, Nord, France1

George Samuel Gaunt Richardson was born in Belper, Derbyshire in 18832, the son of Sarah Richardson (b. 1866, Belper, Derbyshire née Gaunt) and oldest of her nine children following her marriage to John Richardson (b. c1862, Wilford, Notts) in 18863. John worked as a blacksmith and by 1901 he and Sarah, along with their nine children were living at 79 Matthias Road in the Sneinton area of Nottingham. George Samuel, then aged 18, was working as a lace warehouseman.4 Tragedy hit the family in 1902 when John died, aged only 415, and life for Sarah and her family of nine must have become very difficult with much of the financial responsibility falling inevitably on George Samuel and Sarah's other older children as they became old enough to work. Nevertheless, in 1907, George Samuel was able to marry Sarah Annie Mount6 and, by 1911, they had established themselves, then with a son aged 1, at 63 Victory Road, Beeston. George Samuel continued to work as a lace warehouseman7.

As a married man with a child, a well established home and job as well as probably responsibilities to the wider family, it is perhaps understandable that he was not amongst those who enlisted so enthusiastically when war came in August 1914. However, from 1916 onwards, conscription into the armed forces had become compulsory for all single men - but soon extended to include married men - when reaching the age of 18, and they would then be eligible to be sent abroad on reaching age 19. As George Samuel was well past that age, it appears that he was eligible as soon as this new regime cam into force in 1916 but, in the event and for whatever reason, it appears that he enlisted in May 19178 with 11th Battalion Sherwood Foresters. In November 1917, at about the time that he was completing his basic training, 11th Battalion, which had been serving in France since 1915, was deployed to Italy where it was engaged in strengthened Italian resistance which had suffered recent disastrous setbacks. It is therefore likely that Private Richardson joined the battalion in Italy either having first joined it in France or being posted there directly9. At some point he was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal.

On 19 Sept 1918 the battalion arrived back in France, as part of 23rd Division, at a time when the Allies were well into what became known as the Hundred Days Offensive, a period of continual pressure against the enemy which was eventually to end the First World War. However, there was still much fierce fighting to be done against a weakened but still aggressive enemy. The battalion was involved throughout the whole of the remainder of this period. In early October it took its part in the Battle of Beaurevoir when that village and the overlooking heights were captured with a resulting break in the enemy's heavily defended Hindenburg Line. Then. in the Battle of Cambrai, the battalion was part of offensive by British, Canadian and New Zealand forces in which the Canadians were able to take Cambrai days ahead of expectations. The enemy was now nearing exhaustion but established new positions to the east of the Selle River. Allied forces, including tanks and infantry, which included 11th Battalion, attacked across existing and temporary bridges on the 20th and were able to reach its objectives despite heavy enemy resistance and bad weather conditions. Sadly, Lance-Corporal Richardson was amongst those who were killed in the battle. He was buried originally, along with colleagues, near where he fell but, after the Armistice, his body was exhumed and reburied in Highland Cemetery in Le Cateau, where it now lies10.

Le Cateau, a small town about 19 kilometres south-east of Cambrai. Highland Cemetery is about 1 kilometre south of the town. After the Battle of Le Cateau (26 August 1914), the town remained in German hands until the middle of October 1918. The original cemetery (Plot III) was made by the 50th (Northumbrian) Division after the fighting of 17 October. The name of Highland Cemetery is suggestive at once of the comparatively high ground on which it stands and of the 32 graves of the 13th (Scottish Horse) Battalion, Black Watch, found in this plot. The cemetery was greatly enlarged after the Armistice when graves of October and November 1918 were brought in from isolated positions on all sides of Le Cateau. Highland Cemetery now contains 624 First World War burials. The cemetery was designed by Charles Holden11.

Lance-Corporal Richardson was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal12. His financial effects of 17 14s 3d, which included his War Gratuity of 8, were paid to his widow in two parts, on 27 March and 21 April 1919.13.

Sarah Annie, his widow, married Frederick Charles Rice at Beeston Parish Church on 15 April 1922. Frederick worked for the Midland Railway and had been a widow since 1919 when his wife Mary died. By 1939, promotion had taken them to live at 10 New Street, Wellingborough, Northants with Frederick working as a railway yard inspector. Sadly, Sarah died there in 1941, aged 57. George Kenneth Gaunt Richardson, who was George and Sarah's only child, married Frances Entwistle in 1934 and ad one daughter. In 1939, he was trading as a general shopkeeper while living at 16 Carlyle Road, West Bridgford, Notts. He died in Nottingham in 1980, aged 7014.

1The photograph of Highland Cemetery is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was registered as 'George Samuel Gaunt', in Belper Registration District in Q1/1883 (Ref 7b 638). His father appears to be unknown,
3They were married at St Anns' Church, Nottingham on 22 August 1886. John then became George Samuel's step-father and he was subsequently included in their joint family with George Samuel adopting the surname 'Richardson' while retaining the name 'Gaunt' as a third forename.
4Sneinton, Nottingham: 1901 Census, Piece 3180 Folio 5
5John's death was registered in Nottingham Registration District in Q3/1902 (Ref 7b 137).
6Their marriage was registered in Nottingham Registration District in Q1/1909 (Ref 7b 406). Sarah Annie Mount was born in Nottingham on 16 November 1883, the daughter of William & Amelia Mount.
7Beeston, Notts: 1911 Census, Piece 20429, RD429, SD3, ED4, Sched 179. Their son, George Kenneth Gaunt Richardson, was born 6 March 1910, probably in Beeston.
8As his Army Service Record has not survived, the amount of his War Gratuity has been used to calculate the month of enlistment.
9The outline of the battalion's deployment in 1917 and 1918 is based on its entry on the Forces War Records website at www.forces-war-records.co.uk/units/319/sherwood-foresters-nottinghamshire-and-derbyshire-regiment.
10The position and other details of his original burial are recorded on the 'Concentration of Graves - Burial Return' which can be seen on his Commonwealth War Graves Commission memorial page.
11This description of Highland Cemetery is based on that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
12Details from George Samuel's Medal Card and his Medal Roll entry - available on ancestry.com.
13Details from his entry in the Army Register of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929 - available on ancestry.com.
14Details of the family in the post-war period are derived from standard genealogical sources, including the 1939 Registration.

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