Alan Simpson, a resident of Richmond called into the musueum to tell us about his grandfather. After months of collecting stories from the time of the First World War for the Ribbon of Remembrance, we have our first story relating to our rural location.
Henry Barningham Simpson farmed at High Rockliffe Farm Hurworth during the First World War. He was also given the role of official horse buyer to the War Department during the conflict. Alan Simpson recalled, “I know he had to travel to very many farms selecting the best of the cart horses to pull the guns and carts of the army. My dad told me that he hated having to take the farmers best and most useful horses. He knew very well that a lot would be killed or injured from the shelling, ‘blown to pieces’ were his actual words. I suppose he was given some leeway in selecting which horses to buy as food still had to be produced, how they were selected he never said but I suppose they had to be fit for purpose whether they be cart horses or hunters for the cavalry”.
The requisitioning of horses during the First World War was dealt with by the Army Remount Service. This department existed before the conflict broke out, with a total establishment of 25,000 horses and mules, five Remount Depots and four Remount companies, with a strength of approximately 1,200 animals. Within 12 days, the establishment had been increased to 165,000 animals and a year later, in August 1915, to 534,971. At its peak in 1917, the Army establishment reached almost 870,000 horses and mules, with remount accommodation for 60,000 animals. Over the course of the war, a total of 468,323 horses were purchased in the United Kingdom by local offical horse buyers such as Henry Barningham Simpson.
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Private Firby was born in 1883 and came from Richmond, living at 49 Newbiggin. He enlisted on 12th December 1914 at the age of 31. He was a ‘Commission Agent’. He was posted to the 6th battalion on 24th August 1915 and arrived in Gallipoli on 8th September. He was wounded by shrapnel on 25th October 1915 when, according to the Battalion War Diary, at 9.30 in the morning there was a ‘Fire display by the Turks along whole of the front. 8 men wounded by shrapnel.’ He returned home on 15th November 1915. He appears among the list of wounded in the December 1915 edition of The Green Howards Gazette. On recovering from his wounds, Private Firby was transferred to the Labour Corps on 22nd May 1917 and he saw out the remainder of the war with the Labour Corps. Private Firby was examined by a Medical Board on 9th March 1917 and was in The Royal Victoria Hospital, Edinburgh on 29th July 1918 when a copy of The New Testament was presented to him. Private Firby was discharged from military service on 4th April 1919. Private Firby was again examined in 1920 and 1921 and declared to have a 40% disability, the cause being listed as ‘Bronchitis’ and granted an award of 8 shillings per week.
Paul Goad of Frenchgate told us about his Great-Uncle, Henry Jesse Richardson. Henry was born in March 1889 in Hailsham, East Sussex, where he lived prior to enlistment. In the 1911 census he gave his profession as Mat Making, his Father William, being a Mat Weaver at that time. Hailsham had a vibrant string, twine and rope based industry at the time from which they gained their employment. Henry enlisted in 1916 at Purfleet and joined the 13th London Regiment (Princess Louise’s Kensington Battalion). Henry’s Service medal and Award Rolls show that he served on the Western Front from September 1st 1916 until his death on August 16th 1917 at the Battle of Langemarck. During his time in theatre Henry’s Battalion were in action at the Battles of Ginchy, Flers-Courcelette and Morval in 1916 and the Second Battle of Arras in 1917. Henry’s burial spot is at Ypres, Arrondissement Ieper, West Flanders Belgium. He is also remembered on the roll of Hailsham War Memorial.
Arthur John Rispin was born in Stockton-on-Tees in 1888. His father, Thomas was a stoker on the railways and his mother called Mary Ann attended to domestic work. He married Mary Elizabeth in 1910 – unfortunately they lost a child in the first year of their marriage. Few records survive relating to his service during the First World War, apart from those relating to his death on 9th October 1918 aged 31. In his photograph he is wearing a badge on his collar signifying that he served with the 12th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment which was the Pioneer Battalion. However upon his death he is listed as serving with the 9th Battalion. His effects and a war gratuity of £21 were left to his widow, Mary. Arthur is commemorated on the Town Memorial in Stockton, and the Busigny Communal Cemetery near St. Quentin, France.