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Richard Newport

Birth

Richard Newport was born in Halton, near Runcorn, in Cheshire on October 9, 1887, and baptised on December 11. He was the second son and sixth and last child of John Newport, a self-employed Boot and Shoemaker, and his wife, Elizabeth Newport (neé Clarke). At the time of his birth the family lived over John’s shop at 206 Main Street, in Halton, Runcorn.

Early Life

Four years later, at the time of the 1891 Census, the family were still living on Main Street at the same address. Richard was the youngest member of the family and was living with his parents and four siblings. Thomas Henry, the oldest child (aged 19) was working as a General Labourer, and Richard’s three sisters Edith Annie (aged 14), Elizabeth (aged 11) and Margaret (aged nine) were living at home, but only Margaret was recorded as still being a Scholar. Richard also had a fourth sister, called Mary Alice Newport (aged 16) was working as a General Domestic Servant for the Rowe family, who were Grocers living at 183 Main Street.

Richard was educated at the then Halton Grammar School where he had won a scholarship and then on to Runcorn Secondary School. By 1901, the family had moved to 103 Main Street. Richard’s older brother, Thomas Henry, had moved out of the household, joining the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in 1891, and was later to become an Asylum Attendant at the Cheshire Lunatic Asylum in Upton, near Chester. His sister, Elizabeth, was recorded as being a Nurse Domestic and his sister Margaret was recorded as being an Assistant Schoolteacher.

Chester College

In 1906, Richard enrolled at Chester College where he studied until he qualified in 1908. He was a very keen sportsman, and whilst at College he was a member of the College rugby team. Being an all-round sportsman, he also played football when back in Halton, where he was Secretary of the Association Club. He was also the Captain of the Halton Tennis Club and a member of Halton Rifle Club. He was a particularly good shot and scored extremely well in marksmanship tests.

In 1908, having completed his Teacher Training, he moved back to the family home in Halton and took up his first appointment as an Assistant Teacher, employed by Cheshire County Council. He taught at St. Mary’s School, in Liscard, Wallasey. In January 1910, he took a position as Certificated Assistant Teacher at Runcorn Parish Church Boys School. At the time of the 1911 Census, he was still living with his parents but all of his siblings had moved out. Living three doors away is John Haddock, the son of Benjamin and Elizabeth Haddock. John was one of four Sergeants who carried Richard to his burial, and was one of the first people to write home from the trenches to inform his own parents of Richard’s death.

Military Service

Richard enlisted in the 10th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment, on September 11, 1914. This was the day after it was formed in Runcorn. He enlisted as Private Number 15793 Richard Newport, but would soon be promoted to Sergeant. His basic training was completed in the South of England. Initially he was based at Fairhaven near Bournemouth, and in a letter to his mother he records that he is living in splendid digs with another Sergeant called Youd.

In March 1915, he was then based at Camp. Number 2 in Codford St. Mary, Wiltshire where much of his training was completed at night. Further training took place at Flower Down Camp in Winchester. By July 1915, he had moved to Ramilles Barracks, North Camp, in Aldershot, where he records that there was a delay in sending the Battalion to France: “Don’t know when we shall go out to France. It wont be for a month or so anyhow. Our Artillery have kept us back - short of guns + munitions…We are soldiering in real earnest now we are in Aldershot + I can tell you they are very strict with us.”

Richard and the 10th battalion finally finished their training and left for France at the end of September. They landed at Boulogne on the September 27, 1915 and on the September 31, he wrote in a letter to his mother: “British Expeditionary Force I cannot tell you where we are but we are a few miles behind the firing line + can hear the guns all right. We had a long train ride in trucks + a long march in the rain before we found billets. For the first night our roof was the sky + it was a wet night too. Now we are billeted in an old building.”

On March 16, 1916, they moved to the Moint en Ternois sector where both sides dug tunnels and placed mines under each other’s lines. On April 24, 1916 the Germans exploded a large mine under the trenches held by “A” Company 10th Cheshires. Richard survived this explosion and the ensuing battle to capture the crater.

On April 26, the Cheshires moved to Mont St. Eloi. St. Eloi is on the road running south from Ypres in the direction of Messine. Here the trench salient, which included an artificial bank of earth called the mound, jutted into the British positions. It gave the Germans slightly higher ground and excellent observation of the British trenches and roads. By this time Richard was a Quarter Master Sergeant.

Lest We Forget

Richard died on May 1, 1916 as he was going up to the trenches with a working party, when he came under shellfire. He managed to avoid the first shell but then ran straight into the second and was badly wounded. Despite the best efforts of the Medical Corps, Richard died of his wounds. He was 28 years old.

Post Mortem

Richard had prepared for the eventuality of being killed whilst on active service. On October 15, 1915 he prepared a will naming of his mother Mrs J Newport as sole beneficiary. He was not married and had no children. Richard’s girlfriend Gladys Hall was obviously devastated by the news of his death, as is referenced by a letter from the person believed to be her father, Mr Thomas Lyon Hall, addressed to Mrs Lightfoot, Richard’s sister Margaret.

Richard was awarded the 1914-1915 Star medal in November 1919 and the British War and Victory Medals in September 1920. He is buried in Ecoivres Military Cemetery, in France.