Margaret Carrigan visited the museum on a recent drop-in day, to tell the story of her father, 38026 Private George W Kidson of C Company, 9th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment.
He enlisted in Richmond in May 1916 – but was told to return home until his call up papers arrived, which they duly did on 5th September 1916. George spent two weeks at the Depot in Richmond and then went to Hartlepool for training. One memorable incident during the night of 29th November occurred when George was on guard duty – a German Zeppelin was brought down.
The war really began for George when he arrived at Canada Trench near Ypres – he recalled, “In the trenches each night we were told what to do, I was told to stand on the Fire Step. While I was there at night about 7 Germans walked past me, so near they could have picked me up, if they had seen me. I said to the Serg, “should I fire?”, he said no – not to give the position away.”
Later in the year he saw action at Polygon Wood. “On Sunday 30th September we were rushed back, where a German prisoner gave himself up. He told us that the Germans were coming the next day – October 1st. I shall always remember Polygon Wood. Come they did on the Monday. Our Platoon were firing for all they were worth. My rifle was muddy, and the bolt would not work, so I took out my oil bottle and passed it on. Man to man oil was passed each oiling their rifle bolts. We were then driven back with machine gun fire.”
After a spell in Italy, bolstering our allies against Austrian attacks, the 9th battalion were sent to the Somme to take part in the advance which eventually led to the signing of the Armistice. It was during this period that George was awarded the Military Medal following the rescue of Major Hunneybun. “I had to go out of the trench and crawl towards the Major. The bullets were flying so thick we could not stand so I put the Major on a groundsheet and me and my pal tried to drag him away. That chap got killed and I got a bullet through my coat collar which just missed the back of my head. I was very lucky.”
George Kidson died on 23rd December, 1995 aged 98 years.
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Submitted by Marcia Howard, a resident of Richmond. Albert William George Clifford was my maternal Grandfather born at Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire in 1886. Prior to his medical discharge in 1916, he was serving in Malta with No.1 Coy, of the Royal Garrison Artillery as a Gunner. He was subsequently presented with the Silver War Badge which in September 1916, King George V had authorised to honour all military personnel who had served at home or overseas since 4 August 1914, and who had been discharged because of wounds or illness. Following his return home to his wife and 2 small children in Gloucestershire, he became Chauffeur to the local doctor, where he also contributed to the recruitment drive popularly known as ‘Your Country Needs You’.
Midshipman Herbert Lawson Riley Ann Luxmoore came to one of our drop-in sessions at The Station to tell us about her Uncle, Herbert Lawson Riley. At the age of 15 years and 7 months, Herbert is not only probably the youngest serviceman from Richmond to die during the First World War, but he was also the first. Herbert was the grandson of Sir John Lawson of Brough Hall. He initially attended the Royal Naval College at Osborne on the Isle of Wight before becoming a Cadet at Dartmouth Naval College. On the outbreak of war in August 1914 Herbert was appointed to the patrol cruiser HMS Aboukir, becoming a Midshipman shortly afterwards. HMS Aboukir, along with sister-ships HMS Hogue and HMS Cressy were sent to the Hook of Holland to patrol the North Sea coast. At 6.25am on 22nd September 1914 the Aboukir was hit by a German torpedo – while the cruiser was listing badly Herbert jumped into the sea and managed to make it to one of the lifeboats. Finding apparent safety on board the Cressy, Herbert and his surviving shipmates began to recover in the ship’s sickroom. Disaster struck a second time. HMS Cressy was hit twice by the same German submarine that had sunk the Aboukir. Herbert Lawson Riley was last seen clinging on to wooden wreckage along side one of his closest friends. All three patrolling cruisers were sunk with the loss of more than 1400 lives.
Norman Angus was born at Southwick, Co. Durham in 1890. He was working as a miner prior to enlisting in September 1914. He was posted to the 8th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment. He would have been sent to France in September 1915 and he had a somewhat chequered career. He had been promoted to Corporal by early 1916 but was reduced to Private. He was wounded in December 1915 and again in September 1916 and unfortunately had to forfeit 6 days pay for unauthorised absence in 1917. 14043 Corporal Angus was awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. He died aged 84 in March 1975.