The Depot, Richmond
For almost a century, the Depot plays a significant part in every soldier’s life, be it as a new recruit, a member of the training or stores staff, or as somewhere to return between deployments or meet old friends. Occupying a commanding position overlooking the town, at the top of ‘Barrack Hill’ the Depot quickly becomes a key landmark, and part of the fabric of Richmond life.
It will be comforting news to many concerned that eight new quarters for married people, and a separate house for the Sergeant-Major, are in course of construction at the Depot. They are close to, and in line with, the existing married quarters and will be ready for occupation in six months. Each quarter is to contain four rooms, and that for the Sergeant-Major six.
The Green Howards Gazette, April 1893
Shortly after noon on Saturday, July 8th, the heaviest thunder and hailstorm ever experienced broke over Richmond. The hailstones, of phenomenal size, did great damage, over 20,000 panes of glass being smashed; and the town presented the appearance of having been bombarded. 500 panes were broken in the Barracks alone.
The Green Howards Gazette, August 1893
20 year old Madge Moore is working as a ‘domestic servant’ at the outbreak of the Second World War. She serves with The Green Howards E Company of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) at the Depot between October 1940 and May 1945, reaching the rank of Sergeant. She sends this photograph ‘to Evelyn from Madge XXOO’ in 1943.
The note on the back of this image says, ‘Hellings, my servant for 14 years and is with me still – went through the war with me from beginning to end.” The photo of Quartermaster Edward Pickard with Hellings was taken at the Depot.
Sergeant Frederick Woodall, pictured here in 1939, serves with the 4th Battalion at the Depot. He later becomes Mayor of Richmond in 1955/56 and 1962/3.
HM King George VI inspects the Home Guard at the Depot on 28 August 1940. The Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson chairs on which he and Queen Elizabeth sit to take tea during their visit are later engraved to mark the occasion. They are still in use in the museum’s Normanby Room.
The physical training team exercising on the grass at the Depot, 1943. This grassed area, marked out for tennis courts was in front of the Officer’s Mess building.
Thomas Halmkan is one of the best-known men in the regiment. He joins in 1906, serving for almost 39 years. Between 1908 and 1926 he sees continuous overseas service. He becomes Quartermaster at the Depot in 1938. Far from being an easy last job into retirement, Halmkan is responsible for kitting out thousands of the regiment’s Second World War soldiers. Thomas’s medals are in the museum collection. Find out more here.
National Service at the Depot
Between 1947 and 1960, thousands of soldiers arrive at Richmond for National Service, spending their first few weeks of army life at the Depot. During their army careers, many will return, perhaps passing through between deployments, finding roles in the structure of training the next new batch of Green Howards soldiers, or at the many veterans’ reunions which take place there.
National Service, the army’s system of peacetime conscription, began in 1947 and lasted until 1960.
Call up papers like this one issued to Fred Westwater in 1952 were sent to young men throughout the country. They were told to notify their employer that they had been enlisted, provided with an advance of service pay and a travel warrant, and ordered where to report.
This Enlistment Order was issued on 29 April. Fred was to report to the Depot on 15 May.
Sport, for fitness, and for leisure (particularly in the case of Officers) formed a significant part of life at the Depot. This leather cricket ball features a silver shield marking the Ladies v Gentlemen fixture at The Barracks, Richmond, 19 August 1892.
This Depot Court Martial book contains details of the crimes and punishments of soldiers based there between 1881 and 1904, including the case of William Parker for…
“Deserting Her Majesty’s Service, in that he at Richmond Yorks on the 25th June 1886, absented himself from the Depot Yorkshire Regt until the 11th June 1891 when he surrendered to the Civil Power at Albany St, Police Station London, dressed in plain clothes.”
Parker was sentenced to imprisonment with hard labour for 56 days, but the court “recommend the prisoner to mercy on the ground that his mental condition is weak.”
A silver cigarette box, its body and lid decorated with dragons. Presented by Lt Gladstone to Colonel Bruce and the officers of the Depot in 1905.
ROAD NAME NOD TO HEROES
When the Depot site was redeveloped for residential use in 1985, its roads were named after four of the regiment’s 18 Victoria Cross recipients. They are Lyons Road, Atkinson Avenue, Dresser Close and Seagrim Crescent.
Private John Lyons (1855)
For conspicuous gallantry in the trenches before Sevastopol on 10th June, 1855. When a live shell fell in his traverse, he ran forward picked it up and threw it out thus saving the lives of many of his comrades.
Sergeant Alfred Atkinson (1900)
During the Battle of Paardeberg on the 18th February, 1900, Sergeant Atkinson went out seven times under heavy and close fire to obtain water for the wounded. At the seventh attempt he was wounded in the head and died a few days afterwards.
Private Tom Dresser (1917)
Private Dresser, in spite of being twice wounded on the way, and suffering great pain, succeeded in conveying an important message from battalion headquarters to the front line of trenches, near Roeux on 12 May, 1917, which he eventually reached in an exhausted condition. His fearlessness and determination to deliver this message at any cost proved of the greatest value to his battalion at a critical period.
This online exhibition is just one strand of the work we do to bring our collection to you, wherever you may be. Use the boxes below to sign up for occasional museum news direct to your inbox, and make a donation to help support our work.