Richard was born in the Ancoats area of Manchester and, as a boy, had been a member of the Ancoats Lads Club. Membership had encouraged his interest in sport and he was an excellent athlete. He lived locally at Thornley Road, Reddish and worked as a reporter for the Manchester Evening Chronicle.
At the beginning of September 1914, he enlisted into the Army, joining the third of the "Pals Battalions" being formed by the Manchester Regiment. This was later officially designated as the Regiment's 18th Battalion and Richard was assigned to No. 15 Platoon in "D" Company. Details of the recruitment and training of the Pals can be found here. After training, the Battalion went on active service to France in November 1915.
Richard took part in the fighting during the early stages of the Battle of the Somme and was wounded during July 1916. After recovery, he was transferred to the 22nd Battalion as they will have been in greater need of replacements at the time.
By the spring of 1917, the British Army was preparing for a major offensive near the French town of Arras. It would be launched on 9 April but, in the weeks leading up to this date, there were a number of small scale attacks intended to make tactical gains prior to the main thrust. During the evening of 27 March, Richard and his comrades took up assault positions. On the other side of No Man's Land were the German trenches around the village of Croiselles.
Zero hour was set for 5.45am on the 28th and the battalion attacked with "A" and "B" Companies leading the way; "D" in close support and "C" some way behind in reserve. The Battalion's unpublished history (held by the Regimental Archives) records "The attack, however, proved a failure owing to the impossibility of breaking through the wire." 22 men were dead, another 9 posted as missing and 54 wounded. It could have been worse!