Photographic research by Stuart Hodgson.
Charles Organ had a long career in the army before arriving at Richmond Depot and acting as Recruiting Officer during the First World War, as his record from our museum catalogue recounts:
Born at Woolwich 13th October 1853.
Charles Organ joined as a Private 13th January 1873, Corporal 11th October 1873, Sergeant 15th August 1874, Colour Sergeant 27th August 1875, promoted to RSM on the 20th April 1882 and QM 1883, Hon. Captain 8th August 1893, Hon. Major 29th November 1900.
He served in Bermuda, Halifax, Malta, Egypt, Cyprus, Egypt, Gibraltar and South Africa. He was employed as the Regimental Transport Officer 12th Dec 1900 – Sept 1902. Retired on 1st September 1902 but was then appointed QM the Royal Hospital Chelsea October 1903 – 1st September 1912, Created a MVO by King Edward July 1905.
He served in the Nile Expedition 1885, Sudan Frontier Force, 1885-6, Boer War 1899-1902 including operations around Colesberg, actions at Paardeberg, Kitchener’s Kop, Proplar Grove and Drifontein and the occupation of Bloemfontein, was with the advance on Dewetsdorp, and action at Leuukop, in the march to Pretoria, actions at Brandfort, Kroonstadt, Vet and Zand rivers, and Johannesburg: took part in the advance eastwards, including the battles of Diamond Hill and Belfast – mentioned in despatches.
He served with the Depot between August and November 1914 and then appointed as Staff Recruiting Officer in December 1915 becoming the Sub Area Commander for Gosport on the 19th February 1916.
Died at Alverstoke, Hampshire 13th March 1936.
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This story was submitted by Mr Johnson of Richmond, he is the grandson of John Ramsden. John was born in East Ardsley, Leeds. He was called up in 1917 and trained at Chelmsford. He was posted with the 6th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry as 78916 Pte J Ramsden. John kept a diary during his time away from home. On 6th February 1918 at Passchendale Ridge he recorded “Shells are whistling menacingly overhead, I hope my God will give me the strength to withstand the trials that beset me!” 21st March 1918 saw the last big German attempt to win the war. John’s diary reads, “Found a fellow I’ve seen very often laid out of the trench – grim and bloody – ah, yes but smiling in death”. John was wounded on 28th March and was evacuated to Rouen with other casualties. On 31st March he wrote, “The Doc prodding my head with an instrument much like a pair of sugar tongs. Eventually succeeds in extracting a small piece (but quite big) of the product of Essen”. After recovering, John was sent back into the line in late May. Again he was hospitalised, this time in an American hospital, taking a serious wound to the hand. The family always believed that the different approach taken by American surgeons saved John’s hand from amputation. John survived the war and moved to Barnsley, running the local cinema and writing a column for the Barnsley Chronicle.
The site of Richmond Camp as it was first called was suggested by Robert Baden Powell while he was based at Richmond Castle as Inspector-General of Cavalry. The name quickly changed to Catterick Camp in order to avoid confusion with Richmond in Surrey. The Camp’s first troops occupied the area for training in 1915. Major-General Michael Frederick Rimington was the officer in charge. In 1915 the decision was made to expand the training camp. A new prisoner of war camp was established and eventually 5000 German prisoners of war were housed there. Initially German PoWs were not permitted to work and boredom became a major problem. The prisoners played sports and even set up an orchestra (with instruments they made themselves) to fill their time. A change of government policy meant that prisoners could be allowed out of the camp to work as labourers. As a result they were employed in constructing the road leading out of Richmond Station, via St. Martins and on to Catterick Camp (Rimington Road). Catterick Prisoner of War Camp became the administrative headquarters for all ‘working camps’ in the area. By the end of the war 89,937 prisoners who had served with the German army were interned in camps across the United Kingdom.
John was born in October 1876, the eldest son of Warrin and Ellen Mitton of Hawes. His father Warrin was both a joiner and a farmer. John married a girl from the Leyburn area, Mary Teresa, in July 1905 and had two daughters. Before joining the Army he spent four years as a postman in Raydaleside and previous to that, for about 14 years, a rural postman at Finghall near Leyburn. It was while he was there he got married. On leaving Finghall the people on his round presented him with a marble clock, pipe and a pouch containing some money. Needless to say he was a very well liked postman! He played for Hawes football team for many years, and for two years the club secretary. He was a fine billiards player and a member of Hawes Church choir. John was described as a cheery likeable chap. John enlisted at Leyburn joining the 2nd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment and embarked for France at the end of July 1916. On April 7th 1917 the Battalion readied itself for the Arras Offensive which was due to start on the 9th. Private John Mitton was killed on that opening day. He was 40 years old. John is buried in the Neuville-Vitasse Road Cemetary, SE of Arras.