2/Lieutenant (Major) Richard Harry BOLTON – (‘D’ Company)
Wounded and Captured: 24 August 1914 Repatriated: 16 November 1918
Personal: Richard was born on 19th February 1894 at Donald, British Columbia, Canada. He was the son of Samuel Henry (Civil Engineer) and Mary (née Randall) Bolton, and he had a younger brother, Francis Randall Hugh, born 2nd August 1899 (see Footnote below).
Shortly after Francis’ birth, however, on 30th August 1899, father, Samuel, died at home, in Revelstoke, British Columbia. Mary returned to England, but died in 1916 in Portsmouth.
The 1911 Census (RG 14/21161) shows 17 years old Richard boarding a ‘Student‘ at Mount St. Mary’s College. Spinkhill, Derbyshire.
On 25th July 1918 Richard married Maria Julienne Jaqueline Tullen (left). Maria was from Flanders, Belgium, a Nurse working with the internees. They married in Holland whilst Richard was still in an internment camp at the end of his four years as a prisoner-of-war.
They had five children, Mary Julienne Grace, Patricia Ann Yvonne, Richard Albert Paul [‘Bert’] (see Footnote below), Margaret Ruth and Frank.
Not long after his discharge from the Army, Richard, his wife and eldest children, Mary and Patricia, emigrated and his Medal Index Card (c. 1922) shows a home address of Glendalough, Noggerup, Western Australia. (Glendalough about 5 miles [8 kms.] from the centre of Perth – nowadays a suburb.) [N.B. 2nd child, Patricia, was born in the June quarter 1921 in Kingston, Surrey; 3rd child, Richard, was born 1st March 1923 at Bunbury, Western Australia.]
Australian Electoral Rolls show that in 1936 the family was living at Mount Leonora, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, and in 1943 at Greenough, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. Richard died in Hospital, in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, on 29th June 1950. His wife, Maria, died on 15th September 1964 in Perth, Western Australia.
Military History: On 1st April 1913 Richard was Gazetted as 2nd Lieutenant in the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Cheshire Regiment.
He was mobilised from the Special Reserve and posted to the 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, as a 2nd Lieutenant, on 14th August 1914, the date the Battalion left for France. Despite being a prisoner-of-war at the time he was promoted to Temporary Lieutenant on 12th September 1914, made Full on 1st December 1914.
Shortly before he was repatriated from his interment Richard was promoted to Temporary Captain on 15th August 1918, which lasted until 18th October 1919. He was promoted to Captain on 8th February 1921.
Richard’s Medal Index Card shows that at the outbreak of War and entered France on 16th August 1914. On the morning of 23rd August 1914, the British Expeditionary Force met and engaged the enemy at Mons and the following day was undertaking a fighting retreat against a force of four German regiments.
The 15th Brigade, consisting of 1st Norfolk, 1st Bedford, 1st Cheshire, and 1st Dorset, were ordered to prepare a position in rear and in reserve around Dour. But on the morning of the 24th the order came to send them into action to hold up the enemy advance whilst the remainder of 5th Division withdrew. Both Battalions, 1/Norfolk and 1/Cheshire, marched from Dour to Audregnies and at about 11.00 a.m.
From the Regimental Roll it is apparent he was a Junior Officer, under Captain Ernest Rae-Jones. Captain Jones was the Officer Commanding “D” Company, 1st Battalion, in position to the right of “C” Company during the Battle at Audregnies on the 24th August 1914.
Captain Jones had sent Captain W. S. Rich with two Platoons on the right half of “D” Company to support 1st Norfolks near the Colliery.
The Battalion’s Companies’ positions were as shown on the Map (above). From his statement below it is clear that Richard’s Platoon went with Captain Rich to the forward position.
The War Diary states that at about 2.30 p.m. Colonel Ballard, o/c 1/Norfolks, gave orders for all troops to retire in an Easterly direction – these orders never reached the two front platoons of ‘D’ Company.
The Diary reads (in part): “2.30 p.m. I am informed Col Ballard gave orders for all troops to retire in an Easterly direction – these orders never reached the 2 front platoons of ‘D’ Coy under command of Capt W S Rich, who held on to the position he had reached in front of the line till 4 p.m. by which hour all troops had retired.”
‘Shortly before ‘C’ Company started to move, Rich, with his two platoons near the colliery, had been forced to retire. Pressed in front and outflanked, he withdrew his men yard by yard, disputing every inch of ground. This grim struggle left an indelible mark on the minds of those of ‘C’ Coy who witnessed it.‘
In his statement after the War Richard recounted how he was wounded at Audregnies just as the Norfolks were retiring: ” My platoon No 13 with No 14 were extended in open order in a corn field. While in this field lying down, I was wounded in the leg by shrapnel – the wound was not serious“.
He went on: “I had been within 20 yds of Capt. Rich but he gave me no orders. I then passed along the order to retire to those who remained, about 20. While running back, while watching the Germans charging about I tripped and fell into a hole about 6 ft 6 ins deep, containing about 6 inches of water. I got out after a few efforts and retired further towards the road, when a machine gun opened fire from the rear. I lay down, the bullets passing over my head. When the machine gun ceased fire I was taken prisoner by Germans coming from the direction of the battalion position.”
Richard’s prisoner of war journey over the next 4 years followed a similar pattern to other Officers, being moved from camp to camp at regular intervals.
Being wounded he probably spent some time in the Hospital at Audregnies (left), then probably at Mons for onward to Germany.
From from Red Cross POW records we find that from 3rd September 1914 and he was at Torgau p-o-w Camp and transferred to Burg bei Magdeburg (right) on 24th November 1914.
The following year, on 6th March he was at Gutersloh with Lt G. S. Jacobs and on 18th April 1917 at Crefeld also with Lt Jacobs.
On 11 December 1917 Richard arrived at Holzminden, before he arrived in Holland as an internee, on 29th December 1917, along with Captains A.J.L. Dyer, W.L.E.R. Dugmore, H.C. Randall, Lieutenants W.G. Elliot, G.S. Jacobs and Major B.H. Chetwynd-Stapylton.
Whilst there he met and married his wife, Maria, a Belgian Nurse, on 25th July 1918. On 16th November 1918 he arrived in Hull on the S.S. Stockport.
After the War the London Gazette (29th September 1919, page 12003) shows that Richard (now a Captain with 3rd Battalion) receive a ‘Special Appointment‘ from 5th April to 22nd August 1919, under the derivation “Cl. FF“. This signifies a fairly senior position in the Intelligence Service. The date of the LG would indicate that the position had been relinquished.
Over the next two years Richard and Marie had two children and emigrated to live near Perth, New South Wales. Richard remained in Australia for the rest of his life, where they had 3 more children. Richard died there on 29th June 1950.
Richard’s brother, 2/Lt. Francis Randall Hugh Bolton, qualified for the Royal Flying Corps on 24th March 1918.
Richard’s son, 2/Lt. Richard Albert Paul Bolton, served in the Royal Australian Navy in World War 2.