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Robert Murray RICHARDSON


Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Pte 2226 21y 28/04/15 11/4/17 KA 5

Private Robert Murray Richardson (1893 - 1917)

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

Robert was born on 27 July 1893 at Taringa. He attended Taringa State School, moved to Bondi in the Waverley District of New South Wales and became a commercial traveller, selling soft goods wholesale.

Enlistment and service

When he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 28 April 1915 at Liverpool, NSW, Robert was 21 years 8 months old and his parents had moved to a house called Taringa in The Avenue, Croydon.  Robert was allotted to the 13th Infantry Battalion which was recruited in New South Wales and with the 14th, 15th and 16th Battalions formed the 4th Brigade, commanded by Colonel John Monash.

Private Richardson embarked from Sydney on HMAT Wandilla with reinforcements on 14 June 1915 and sailed to Egypt.  On 2 August 1915 his unit crossed to Gallipoli Peninsula where the 31st Battalion was heavily involved in establishing and defending the ANZAC front line. In August, the 4th Brigade attacked Hill 971.  The hill was taken at great cost, although Turkish reinforcements forced the Australians to withdraw.

Robert was amongst the casualties with gunshot wounds to arm and head, causing his withdrawal to Lemnos for hospital treatment, but later with dysentery as well, he was transferred by hospital ship Aquitania to the Fulham Military Hospital in England.  He recovered and rejoined his unit at Tel-el-Kebir1 in March 1916.

In early June 1916, the 13th sailed for France and the Western Front.  For the “crime” of being absent from the 19.45 parade in the field on 27 June, Private Richardson was awarded 7 days “confined to barracks”.  The battalion took part in heavy fighting and trench warfare in Belgium and France. Robert Richardson was shot in the leg in Belgium in October and spent several weeks in the Australian General Hospital at Wimereux, rejoining his unit at Étaples in January 1917.  

Killed in action

The 13th Battalion suffered heavy losses at Bullecourt in April when attacking strong German positions without promised tank support. Amongst the casualties was Private Richardson, reported ‘missing in action’ then ‘killed in action’ on 11 April 1917.

It was not until 4 April 1921 that Mr Richardson, then living at Roslyn, Albert Street, Strathfield in Sydney was officially advised that No 2226 Private R. M. Richardson, 13th Battalion was buried in Queant Road British Cemetery, Buissy, 8¾ miles WNW of Cambrai.

In May 1921 Mrs Agnes Richardson replied: 

“In reference to your advice re Private R. M. Richardson 13th Battalion which shows he is buried in the Queant Road British Cemetery, Buissy, 8¾ miles WNW of Cambrai, we would like to know how you can tell us this, as we have never had any word that his body was found, not yet anything at all belonging to him.

“If he is buried there you must have been able to identify him by some thing. Kindly let us know as we would gladly have something definite.”

Later correspondence revealed his remains had been exhumed from the original burial place and that no personal belongings were recovered at the time of his death.

On a form supplying details to the Memorial War Museum for the Roll of Honour of Australia, a question was printed:

Had he ever served in any Military or Naval Force before enlisting in the AIF?

Mrs Richardson wrote: 

“NO. Sailed Australia June 14th never having fired a musket; wounded Gallipoli August 22nd.”

Robert Murray Richardson is remembered with honour at the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial in France, the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and the Merrington Anzac Memorial Peace Chapel in Brisbane.


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

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

 

 

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