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Richard Coates was born on the 13th November, 1893 in Walton le Dale. His parents were William and Ruth Coates (nee Howson) and they had married in St. Leonard`s Church in Walton le Dale on the 12th June, 1884.

Richard had six brothers and three sisters; Robert (1884), Henry (1886), Harriet (1887-1889), Agnes (1889), Frederick (1890-1895), Mary (1892), Herbert (1895), Francis (1897) and Edward (1901).

In 1901 the family were living at 25 Victoria Road in Walton le Dale. Richard`s father was an overlooker in a cotton mill and some of the older children were also working in the mill as weavers.

Richard`s father passed away in 1907 and his mother died two years later in 1909. In between their parents deaths Richard`s older brother Henry had married Mary Jane Thompson. By 1911 Henry and Mary Jane had two young children of their own, two year old Ethel and ten month old Edith and they were living in a five roomed house at 10 Cromwell Terrace in Walton le Dale. They had also taken into their home Richard, Agnes and Mary and the three youngest brothers, Herbert, Frank and Edward.

On the 4 September, 1914 aged 20 years and 9 months Richard went to enlist at Preston. He was allocated the number 13428 and posted to “A” Company of the 8th Battalion. He had no previous military experience, he was unmarried and had been working as a weaver in Calvert`s Flats Mills in Walton le Dale prior to his enlistment.

The Medical Officer noted him as being five feet six and a half inches tall and weighing 110lbs. He had hazel eyes and light brown hair.

On the 3rd of January, 1915 and again the following day he got into a spot of bother at Boscombe for being absent on parade and also for leaving a parade without permission and for these offences he was confined to barracks for four days.

The 8th Battalion had remained in training in England for almost a whole year since it first came into existence until at the beginning of September, 1915 it was announced that they would be very soon sailing for an “unknown destination”. The Transport and Machine Gun Section left Aldershot for Southampton on the 24th September and sailed from there to Le Havre the same night. Richard left Aldershot with the remainder of the Battalion and went by train to Folkestone and crossed from there to Boulogne.

The Battalion were originally in the 74th Brigade of the 25th Division but on the 26 October, 1915 they were transferred to the 7th Brigade of the same Division. The Battalion then went into the trenches in Ploegsteert Wood after relieving the 14th Durham Light Infantry. The trenches were apparently in a very poor state of repair and were muddy and full of water.

In the early hours of the 24 November, 1915 the Battalion had just come out of the trenches and had gone into billets in the Piggeries. Richard then found himself in big trouble when he was discovered “drunk in Ploegsteert Wood” by Sgt. Hutchinson at 11.35am. This was a serious offence and his punishment reflected that when he was awarded 28 days Field Punishment No.1.

In early March 1916 the Battalion had been moved to the area around Maizieres and by April they were taking their turn in the trenches in front of Mont St. Eloi.

A couple of months later on the 2nd May 1916 Richard was killed in action.

Extract from the 8th Battalion War Diary – 2nd May 1916

Quiet during early part of the day but about 7.30pm just before the relief by 1st Wiltshire Regiment was due to begin the enemy put up a mine on our left and an intense artillery fire was opened by both sides. This lasted only about an hour however and the relief was successfully completed by the early hours of the morning of May 3rd.

Richard`s brother Henry was informed of his death and the following article appeared later in the Preston Guardian.

coates

Richard`s sister Agnes later signed for her brother`s personal possessions and these included a wallet, 1 testament, 1 cigarette case and a pair of scissors.

Richard was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals and was buried with honour in Ecoivres Military Cemetery at Mont-St. Eloi.

He lies alongside 15884 Private James Cunningham, 8th Battalion who died on the same day and was just 18 years old.

Richard`s brother Henry had the following inscription placed on his brothers gravestone.

coates1

Rank: Private
Service No: 13428
Date of Death: 02/05/1916
Age: 22
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment 8th Bn.
Cemetery: ECOIVRES MILITARY CEMETERY, MONT-ST. ELOI

Janet Davis

Janet Davis

Janet Davis has been researching her family history for many years and through this she discovered many relatives who served in WW1. This interest then led Janet to do many walking the battlefield tours with her husband. In April 2013 she discovered this website and volunteered to help. Janet believes that there are lots of stories still to be told, most of them very sad but at the same time they are a fascinating insight into the men, their families, what they did and where they came from.
Janet Davis

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