Richard Ernest BEARDSELL
Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Date of Death: 22 April 1918
Age: 36
Cemetery: Doiran Memorial, Greece

Richard was born on 30 September 1881. This does not appear to have been in the Stockport area and, indeed, it seems that the family did not move to this area until sometime after the 1901 Census. He was living in the area by 1906 when he married Sarah Ellen Dedridge at St Mark's Church, Bredbury. By 1916, they were living at 65 Lancashire Hill and Richard was following his craft as a baker.

He enlisted into the army of 10 October 1914, originally joining the Cheshire Regiment. His attestation papers show him to have been 5' 7" tall and weighing 172 pounds. He had a 39 ½ inch chest and had a fresh complexion, grey eyes and brown hair. Richard had given his religious denomination as Church of England.

A few weeks later, the Stockport Advertiser in its edition of 11 December published a short article about Richard. "Private 15419 R E Beardsell of the 8th Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment (who before enlisting was magazine secretary for the Stockport Junior Conservative Association) writes to a friend giving his experiences of camp life on Salisbury Plain. Pte. Beardsell joined the Army at Chester Castle under the impression that he would be attached to the Cheshires. He adds "One night, we were paraded with all our belongings and marched off to the station, about 400 strong. Imagine our surprise when we woke up next morning to find ourselves at Codford on Salisbury Plain. The camp was about two miles from the station and we were soaked through before we arrived in camp. Later in the day, judge of our surprise, when we were informed that we had been transferred to the 8th Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment as many men had expressly stated their wish to be attached to the Cheshires."

Around this time, Richard received a temporary promotion to Lance Corporal. His next letter home said they had moved to Bournemouth and "every man was delighted with his lodgings". Further temporary promotions, to Corporal and Sergeant, followed and, 19 July 1915, his promotion to Sergeant was made permanent.

It is probable that, in the summer of 1915, Richard went overseas on active service. This was probably to join the first line troops of the 1/8th Battalion then at Gallipoli. The troops were evacuated from this failed campaign at the end of 1915 and the Fusiliers were in Egypt throughout 1916. A further promotion, on 9 January 1917, raised Richard's rank to Company Sergeant Major.

He was soon selected to become an officer and returned to Britain for training. He received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant on 1 August 1917 and left England, on 20 November,  for the Salonika theatre of War in Northern Greece. On arrival, he was posted to the 12th Battalion.

The Regimental History records that, on the night of 21/22 April 1918, the Battalion attacked as a raiding party against Bulgarian positions south of Lake Doiran. "B" and "C" Companies attacked a position only recorded as "O2", whilst "D" Company attacked "O3". "On the whole front the enemy works were entered after hand-to-hand fighting and casualties were inflicted and dug-outs discharged. A feature of the operation was that 33 body shields per Company were issued and proved most useful in warding off bayonet thrusts and splinters of bomb and shell."

The History continues by mentioning that the raid, by these three Companies, was announced by the Bulgarian radio in true propaganda terms "After four days of heavy bombardment, several English battalions attacked our positions on a wide front, south of Lake Doiran. After a violent struggle, our brave infantry, supported by artillery, threw back the enemy attack."

Richard was killed whilst leading his men into the attack. His body was never recovered and identified and it would not be until 12 months later that the War Office made an official presumption that he must have been killed.

His service file still exists at the National Archives and this shows that, in 1920, his mother Ann was living at 17 Whitehill Street, Reddish and that he had a brother, Charles, who was at 8 Coronation Street, South Reddish.

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