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Gillett1Richard Gillett was born in Wesham on the 11th July, 1896 the son of Nicholas and Annie Gillett (nee Conlon). Nicholas Gillett was originally from the village of Singleton and Annie was from Pendleton near Manchester. The couple had married in St. Joseph`s RC Church in Wesham on the 2nd February, 1895.

Richard had three siblings, Isabella was born in 1900, another sister Mary in 1904 and a brother James Edward in 1906.

In 1911 the family were living at 13 Garstang Road in Wesham. Richard and his father Nicholas were both employed in the local cotton mill as spinners. The family also had a lodger living in, eighteen year old Annie Ashworth who was from Preston.

He enlisted in the Army in January, 1915 when he was 19 years old. He was posted to the 10th Battalion and allocated the service number 19812. Unfortunately his papers do not seem to have survived so there is very little additional information available.

His Medal Index Card records that he went overseas on 31 July, 1915 which is when the 10th Battalion sailed for France. The Battalion were in the 112th Brigade of the 37th Division and when they arrived in France the strength of the Battalion was 33 Officers and 949 men.

On the 11th August 1916 Richard was posted as missing when the Battalion were involved in actions during the Battle of the Somme.

After being informed that Richard was missing his parents posted a notice in the Preston Guardian asking if anyone had information about their son.


Extract from 10th Battalion War Diary 10th Aug – 11th August 1916

10.8.16 – This Battalion relieved the 8th East Lancashire Regiment in trenches east of BAZENTIN-le-PETIT, the relief commencing at 4pm and being complete by 6.30pm.

11.8.16 – At 2am this morning after 3 minutes bombardment, 2 companies – (A & C Coys) attacked a portion of trench called the intermediate line. By 2.50am – 2/Lt. Duggan finding all 4 officers were wounded (2Lt. Gordon eventually dying) took command of the whole new line – length about 250 yards. At 3am the enemy counterattacked but were driven off by bomb and lewis guns. Again at 4am the enemy counterattacked in great force but were driven off suffering very heavy casualties – a third time at 5am the enemy made a feeble attack and were once again driven off leaving many wounded.

At 7am the enemy’s artillery quietened and a new company (B Coy) were put in the new line – A and C Companies being then withdrawn. The rest of the day passed quite quietly.

One Company (C) commanded by Lieut J.A. GRAVETT, (2nd in command 2/LT WADESON) – as soon as the barrage lifted dashed along the top of the trench throwing bombs as they went. The head of this company being held up for a second, was ably supported by A Company under Lieut. W.H. Proctor (2nd in Command 2/Lt. H.F. GORDON) – This company charged along the top of the trench and jumped in – bayoneting and bombing all Germans within view. By 2.30am the trench as far as the road from BAZENTIN-le-Grand to Martinpuich was completely in our hands. Then 2/Lt Duggan with a party mostly comprising men with picks and shovels began to build a barricade about 50 yds from the road. This work was accomplished.

The total casualties were Officers killed – 1, wounded 3. Other ranks killed – 20, wounded 77. Died of wounds since 7.

Richard`s parents would eventually be told that for official purposes their son had died on or around 11 August, 1916.

He was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals and as his body was never recovered his name was recorded on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.

Richard is also remembered on the War Memorial which is located in the centre of Wesham.

weshamwm Gillett3


Rank: Private
Service No: 19812
Date of Death: 11/08/1916
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 10th Bn.

Janet Davis
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