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John Harold RICHARDSON


Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Pte 2372 20y3m Apr 1915 14 Aug 1918 5

John Harold Richardson (1895 - 1969)

Richardson Brothers Booklet

The Richardson Family, Taringa

The names of Robert Murray Richardson and John Harold Richardson are recorded on the Wharf Street Congregational Church Roll of Honour at Saint Andrew’s Uniting Church, Brisbane. Their parents, Robert and Agnes Richardson née McCaul were married at the bride’s home called Murrayfield in the Brisbane suburb of Taringa on 16 June 1892 by the Rev. R. Kerr, Minister of Toowong Presbyterian Church, though the McCauls were church members at Wharf Street. They had four sons, all born in Brisbane. The first two sons, Robert and John enlisted in the First World War at the recruiting station at Liverpool, New South Wales. The third died in infancy and their fourth son, Gordon Alexander was born in 1898.

Early life

John Harold Richardson, second son of Robert and Agnes Richardson, was born in Brisbane on 4 February 1895. He moved to Sydney and became a warehouse salesman also serving voluntarily for 2½ years in a Universal Training 2 unit in the 21st Infantry.

Enlistment and service

Just days after his brother had joined the AIF, John enlisted at the Liverpool recruiting station at the age of 20 years and three months.  He was amongst reinforcements for the 3rd Infantry Battalion and embarked on 14 July 1915 on HMAT Orsova from Sydney, bound for Egypt.  He was taken on strength at Tel-el-Kebir on 2 September 1915 and prepared for the re-organisation of the 3rd Battalion and the newly raised 55th Australian Infantry Battalion consisting of Gallipoli veterans and fresh reinforcements from Australia.

Private Richardson was transferred to the 55th Battalion on 13 February 1916. The battalion became part of the 14th Brigade of the 5th Australian Division.  Arriving in France on 30 June 1916 the battalion entered the frontline trenches for the first time on 12 July and fought its first battle at Fromelles a week later.  

The battle was a disaster, resulting in heavy casualties across the division. Although in reserve, the 55th was quickly committed to the attack and eventually played a critical role, forming the rearguard for the 14th Brigade’s withdrawal. Despite its grievous losses the 5th Division continued to man the front in the Fromelles sector for a further two months.

At Fleurbaix, John Richardson was wounded on 30 September and admitted with gunshot wounds to both thighs to a Field Ambulance Station and appeared to be progressing favourably.

His parents, however, received a cable on 10 October 1916 saying:

“REGRET REPORTED SON PRIVATE JOHN H. RICHARDSON DANGEROUSLY ILL GUNSHOT WOUND FRACTURED THIGH WILL FURNISH PROGRESS REPORT WHEN RECEIVED.”

The wound worsened and John was transferred to England by hospital ship St David at the beginning of December and his left leg was amputated at the end of that month at West General Hospital.  Cables to his parents followed, reporting favourable progress in the months of the year 1917.  

Return to Australia

Private John Harold Richardson, service number 2372, 55th Battalion returned to Australia per hospital ship HMAT Kanowna on 16 February 1918 and was discharged from the Australian Imperial Force in consequence of medical unfitness on 14 August.  He was awarded the 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.

Post war

Details of Mr Richardson’s life after the war are not known, except that his claim for Repatriation benefits was lodged and considered in Sydney in 1959.  He died at Palm Beach, Sydney on 9 June 1969.


Select Bibliography
• National Archives of Australia, World War 1 army records
• Queensland Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages
• New South Wales Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages
The Queenslander, Saturday 23 June 1917, page 9
Sydney Morning Herald, 10 June 1969
• Australian War Memorial - Infantry battalion histories, Roll of Honour, First World War Embarkation Rolls
• Archives, Saint Andrew’s Uniting Church, Wharf Street Congregational Church Year Books, 1909 - 1920
• Commonwealth War Graves Commission
• State Library of Queensland

Researched and compiled by N. E. Adsett, Brisbane.   May 2015.

 

 

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