John was born in Leeds on the 31st July 1892. He was the eldest of five children. The family obviously moved round the country a lot as the 3rd youngest child was born in Liverpool and the two youngest children were born in Nottingham. John’s father originated from Norfolk, his mother from Hawnby in the North York moors. At some point the family settled in Great Yarmouth, the 1911 census giving an address as 86 Churchill Road. It was in Great Yarmouth that John married Dora (Dolly) Mary McQueen in September 1924. By 1939 they were living in Richmond, John’s occupation being a Secondary School Master, with Dora doing unpaid domestic duties.
There does not appear to be a record of any offspring. John was obviously heavily involved with the town of Richmond and the people as he served as town mayor in 1957/8. John died on the 23rd November 1982 aged 90. At the time of his death he was living at 8 Gilling Road.
During WW1 John served as a pilot, with the rank of Captain, in the Royal Flying Corps. John had joined the 10th Squadron RFC at Abeele, an airfield near Ypres Belgium, in May 1917. The 10th had been formed at Farnborough on the 1st January 1915. In April 1918 it would be re-designated the 10th Squadron RAF. Initially John flew De Havilland BE2s, a 2 seat biplane until the Squadron was re-equipped with Armstrong Whitworth FK8s, general purpose biplanes with a synchronised Vickers machine gun up front and a Lewis gun in the rear cockpit. John was heavily involved in reconnaissance and photography and would experience several sorties with German aircraft. In January John was flying alone in the Ypres area when he was caught by anti-aircraft fire. Though temporarily concussed, he fortunately regained consciousness in time to right his plane before crashing into trees.
After several weeks in hospital he returned to duty at the end of May 1918, albeit in a training capacity in Wiltshire. John’s active service with the RFC had lasted for some 9 months, not bad when a pilot’s life expectancy in WW1 was about 3 weeks!
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Submitted by Zoe Johnson at the Richmondshire Museum. Geoffrey Stapleton Rowe Roper 2nd Lieutenant Alexandra Princess of Wales Own, Yorkshire Regiment. His Canadian service records show that Geoffrey served as a private in Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Imperial Army from which he was discharged on the 15th October 1915 to join the Yorkshire Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant. He was awarded a Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry in action on the 25th of August 1916 when ‘he held his platoon with great dash in the assault, and afterwards crawled back to the trenches to make a report. He then returned to his platoon being under close and heavy fire’, this extract was taken from the London Gazette. Serving with the 7th battalion during the Arras offensive of 1917 on May 9th, 2nd Lt Roper and his men were moved into the line in trenches north of the river Scarpe. The battalion were involved in a bitter fighting around Curly and Cupid trenches and had gone into the line with 18 Officers and 436 other ranks and when they came out on May 15th there were only 5 Officers and 228 men left. 2nd Lt G S R Roper MC was killed in this action on May 12th 1917 aged 27. He is remembered on the Cabaret-Rouge British cemetery, Souchez, 7 miles north of Arras. He was the son of George and Elizabeth Roper of The Lodge, Gilling West, Richmond; his Father being a local magistrate and county Alderman, holding…
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.
Photograph discovered in the archives of the Green Howards Museum by Stuart Hodgson, with information from Nottinghamshire County Council’s website. Second Lieutenant Oliver Ball was born in 1891 in Daybrook, Nottinghamshire. Both he and his brother, Walter were to die serving with the 10th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment, which must have been a huge blow to his parents Alfred and Emma. After attending school in Nottingham where he joined the OTC, Oliver was employed at the Nottingham head office of the Union of London and Smith’s Bank. On 28th September 1916 the 10th Battalion were in the trenches near Fricourt consolidating the ground they had recently gained. German shells fell on the positions on a continuous basis. At about 8pm the shelling became much heavier ont the front line positions and as a result 2nd Lieut Oliver Ball was killed by shrapnel. He is buried at Guards’ Cemetery, Lesboeufs.