First World War stories from the Wakefield District

Richard England

Richard was born in 1897 in Pontefract, West Yorkshire. His father died while he was young and when he joined the army in 1915 he was living with his mother, brother and sister.


He served in the Royal Army Medical Corps (see photo) and he was sent to France after training in Nottingham. Throughout his army career Richard held the rank of private. Like other soldiers, he kept in touch with his family by sending letters and postcards home. Richard told his family something of the conditions in France. On one occasion he said that it was too cold to write a letter, while on another he mentioned living in tents. Richard had to be careful what he wrote because cards and letters were censored. Some of the surviving cards have had place names deleted.


Richard sometimes asked his family to send him things. Among the things he asked for were pencils, writing paper and a flash lamp battery. Unfortunately not all of the parcels arrived. As a result Richard had to tell his mother at one point not to send any more parcels for a while.


In April 1918 Richard’s mother received a telegram telling her that Richard had been seriously injured. Soon afterwards she learned that he was being treated for a shrapnel wound in the buttocks. Richard was soon transferred from France to a military hospital in Colchester in Essex. His condition was still serious and in May 1918 his mother was asked to visit him. She was sent a voucher allowing her to travel at half the usual railway fare.


Richard survived, but he continued to receive medical treatment for his wound until at least 1920. For the rest of his life he wore a calliper and walked with a limp. This did not stop him owning a motorbike and becoming a leading member of the Pontefract and District Motor Club in the 1920s. He would not, however, talk much to his family about the War.

Google map: Colchester, Essex where Richard England was treated in the Military Hospital»

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