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Richard Stopforth lived in Bootle and before the war had been a paper-hanger’s apprentice. He was shown in the pre-war census living with his parents Richard and Margaret with their family.

He volunteered to join Kitchener’s New Army on September 1st 1914, less than a month after the outbreak of war. When Richard enlisted he stated his age was 19. In fact he appears to have been 18 (GRO Births Q2 1896 West Derby, Lancashire, vol 8b page 401). He was 5ft 6ins tall, had a ruddy complexion; blue eyes and fair hair.

Richard enlisted at Seaforth and was sent to the depot of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment at Fulwood Barracks, Preston where he was posted to the 10th Battalion which was being raised at that time.

Seaforth Barracks was the main recruiting centre for men resident in the north-end suburbs of Liverpool — Bootle, Litherland, Seaforth and Waterloo – with many thousands of locally born and non-local men enlisting at the barracks in Claremont Road.

During his time in training and in France he qualified as a machine gunner. In 1915 each British battalion on the Western Front had four Lewis Guns.

In February 1916 Richard was given two days’ fatigues duties as punishment for “W on AS Dirty …” which would have been “Whilst on Active Service having a Dirty rifle”.

In April 1916 the 10th Bn Loyal North Lancashire Regiment was given a rest. It moved out of the trenches at Hannescamps and moved into billets at Humbercamps where it was inspected by the GOC on April 1st 1916. On 9th April 1916 they marched to Warluzel where it took billets and remained for the rest of the month. On May 1st 1916, the 10th battalion returned to the front, and after a three-hour march from Warluzel they arrived at billets in Pommier. they moved into the trenches in a line between Bienvillers, Hannescamps and Foncquevillers.

Of the four battalions in the Brigade, the 10th Loyal North Lancashire Regiment was to go into reserve in Bienvillers. However, they were tasked with providing two companies of men to support the 6th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment who were to go forward and man strong-points on the Hannescamps-Mochy road and in the support line behind the Monchy salient.

These were the positions much closer to the enemy where the opposing trenches were about 200 yards apart. “C” Company of the 10th was tasked to move in support of the Bedfordshire Regiment at the close-support trenches at Monchy Salient. On the morning, May 4th 1916, the enemy started a heavy artillery bombardment. The area of greatest threat to the enemy was the salient around Monchy where the two sides each had a bulge in the line facing the enemy’s positions.

The artillery concentrated on the Monchy salient and then lifted as the infantry attacked: one officer and one Other Rank killed. That one other rank was Private Richard Stopforth.

Shortly afterwards a local newspaper announced his death;stopforth-richard

Richard was buried in the 37th Division’s cemetery at Bienvillers.

Photo taken July 2016

Photo taken July 2016

Rank: Private
Service No: 12641
Date of Death: 04/05/1916
Age: 21
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 10th Bn.
Additional Information: Son of Richard and Margaret Stopforth, of 3, Rose Vale Terrace, Rose Vale, Liverpool.

The CWGC records that Richard Stopforth died on May 4th 1916. “Soldiers Died in the Great War” (HMSO 1921) recorded that he was killed in action on May 4th. It also showed that only two men of the 10th Battalion died on that date.

Thank you to Alec Crawford, the nephew of Richard Stopforth, who supplied this article. Alec would like to thank Alan Greveson for his part in helping with the research.

Paul McCormick
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One Response to 12641 PTE. R. STOPFORTH. L.N.LAN.R

  1. david stopforth says:

    many many thanks for all the information on my uncle Richard.and special thanks to marie at bootle strand w.w.1 museum.

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