Walter Gorner Barker was born in Richmond on 2 August 1889. For a time he lived with his family at 71 Frenchgate. He worked as a footman for Sir Mark Sykes at the family seat, Sledmere House near Driffield. Sykes was Commanding Officer of the 5th (Territorial) Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment before the war. It seems that Walter may have served as a territorial soldier before the war (he has a low early regimental number 2274 which is then revised later to 240643). He enlisted at Scarborough and became a Private in the 5th battalion.
Walter died on 27 May 1918, south of Craonnne. Prior to this, the battalion war diary records several days as ‘day quiet in trenches’ before the ominous entry for 26th May – ‘”Stood to” at night owing to information received that enemy attack was to be delivered on morning of 27th May’. The diary records that the bombardment began at 1 am with the enemy attacking at 4.30am. The battle lasted for four days.
Walter Gorner Barker is commemorated on the Soissons Memorial in France.
Explore more memories from the ribbon
Vicki Walker of Little Crakehall called into the museum to show us a photograph of Duncan Harvie, her grandfather. The photo is a postcard addressed to ‘Mary and Sam’, sent on 3 April 1916 and shows a group of Signallers on board HMS Laconia. Duncan Harvie (5th South African Regiment) is sat at the front of the group with crossed legs. The ship’s log shows the Laconia (an armed merchant cruiser) to be anchored at Zanzibar on that date, on it’s way to British East Africa (now Kenya). The ship was used in the early part of the war to patrol the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean, but in April 1915 her role changed and she was used as a headquarters ship to aid in the fight in German East Africa. Following her return to to Cunard, the Laconia was sunk by U-50 160 miles northwest of Fastnet while returning form the United States on 25th February 1917. Twelve people were killed following a double torpedo strike.
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.
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.