Could I share with you the story of my Great Uncle George who was born in Selby Yorkshire England and is remembered on a war memorial. If you can search for Selby Abbey you will be able to see the sea of poppies and crosses George is remember there with PPCLI on his cross.
George Alfred Richardson b 7/1/1885 – d 16/9/1916
George signed up for the British Army 14/4/1902 aged 18 years 9 months he served in the 1st Royal Dragoons until his discharge 14/4/10 rising to the rank of Kings Corporal. George was an artist, whilst in the army he gained a
Certificate in Education in Writing from Dictation, Arithmetic, Copying MS, English History and Geography. He served in India during his army service
On leaving the army he went to Canada and worked for Westinghouse as a draughtsman. At the outbreak of war he joined Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. He was an original (his service no 1253) in PPCLI.
Brigadier-General The Rt. Hon. (Andrew) Hamilton Gault (18 August 1882 – 28 November 1958) M.P., D.S.O., raised at his own expense Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, the last privately raised regiment in the British Empire with $100,000. The Regiment was named after Princess Patricia of Connaught a grand daughter of Queen Victoria.
The Patricia’s were assembled and trained separately from the rest of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, recruiting largely British born Canadians who had previous military service. The Regiment was led by British officers and outfitted with British weapons and equipment. Although it was the first Canadian combat unit in action, for most of 1915 the Regiment served as part of a British brigade in a British division.
In September 1914 the Battalion was sent to France, during his time in France he was promoted to acting Corporal. He was wounded 2/6/1916 during the first day of the battle of Mount Sorrel.
The 3rd Canadian Division, which had been formed in December 1915, was the target of a crushing German bombardment on the morning of 2 June. The barrage devastated the forward Canadian positions and killed hundreds. German infantry then swept forward, capturing Canadian positions at Mount Sorrel and on two surrounding hills. A hastily organized counterattack on 3 June failed. Three days later, the Germans exploded four mines under the Canadian positions and captured the village of Hooge. The Battle of Mount Sorrel lasted for almost two weeks and cost the Canadians over 8,000 casualties. Having lost the first two phases of the battle, the Canadians achieved victory in the final operation. Careful planning and concentrated artillery bombardments had begun to tip the balance on the First World War battlefields in favor of attackers over entrenched defenders.
George died of wounds at the 2nd/1st South Midland Casualty Clearing Station on the Somme, 106 days after he was wounded on the 16/9/1916. He is buried at the WARLOY-BAILLON COMMUNAL CEMETRY EXTENSION Plot 8 Row A Grave 3. There are over 1,300 Commonwealth burials from World War 1 and two from World War 2. Also in the graveyard are 158 French and 18 German war graves. He is also on the war memorial in Selby Abbey.
George who was serving in the Canadian Army had 2 brothers in the same theatre of war, Arthur and John, both serving in the British Army, there is no information as to whether the met on the battlefield either before or after his injuries.
For many years after his death his parents, on or around the 11 of November, received an envelope from Canada, with only a Maple leaf in its full autumnal (fall) colours in the envelope, they never knew who sent it. His mother wore a PPCLI brooch until her death in 1954 as did it is claimed a local schoolteacher who never married.