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200225-corporal-richard-bonney-eaves-1Richard Bonney Eaves was born in the village of Westby not far from Lytham his birth being registered in the March quarter of 1886 and he was the eldest of six children born to his parents John and Martha Eaves (nee Bonney). John and Martha married at the church of St. Nicholas in Wrea Green near Kirkham on the 2nd January 1886. The couples` other five children being;

  • Mary Thomasina (1887)
  • Margaret (1889)
  • William (1892)
  • John (Jack) (1895)
  • Martha (1898)

In 1891 Richard and his family lived at Saltcoates in Lytham where his father was working as a general labourer. Still living in the same area in 1901, Richard was an apprentice joiner and his father John was working as a parks gardener for the Urban District Council.

In the September quarter of 1908 Richard married Grace Blezard at St. John the Devine Church in Lytham and two years later a daughter Evelyn May was born. In 1911 Richard, Grace and Evelyn May were living at 18 North Clifton Street in Lytham. Richard noted his occupation as a joiner `estate worker`, so it`s likely he was working for the Clifton family on their Lytham Hall Estate. In 1913 Richard and Grace had another child, a son and they named him William Edward.

Richard enlisted at Preston on the 5th September 1914 agreeing to serve a term of 4 years with the 4th Battalion Territorial Force of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. He was issued with the service number 1096 which would later be changed to 200225. Prior to his enlistment Richard declared that he had served for a period of time with the Lytham Company of 2nd Volunteer Battalion East Lancs Regiment. After taking and passing his medical inspection Richard signed his agreement to serve abroad on the 7th September 1914 which would allow him as a Territorial soldier to serve overseas. Richard`s brother John a.k.a. Jack Eaves also enlisted at the same time as Richard and like his older brother he also joined the 4th Battalion LNL. He was issued with the service number 1098 which would later become 200226.

On the 11th April 1915 Richard was appointed Lance Corporal (paid). A few weeks later on the 4th May 1915 the two brothers embarked for France with the Battalion both as members of “C” Company.  Six weeks later on the 15th June 1915 the Battalion was involved in their first major engagement of the war around Festubert. An attack was planned for 6pm on the 15th June and “C” Company had been chosen to lead the attack. Richard escaped unscathed but Jack was apparently wounded during the assault. The attack was not a success and at a later roll call the Battalion casualties amounted to 431 men killed, wounded and missing. On the 16th June, the day after the attack Richard was promoted to Corporal.

In the days following the action Richard sent a letter to his parents back in Lytham, the local paper printed an extract;

200225-corporal-richard-bonney-eaves-2

Richard appears to have spent most of 1916 in and out of hospital. On the 26th January 1916 he reported sick, his papers stating `neuritis, slight` but when he was admitted to 9 Stationary Hospital the medics noted `N.Y.D.` (not yet diagnosed). He didn`t re-join the Battalion until six months later on the 18th June 1916.

A month after returning to the front Richard reported sick again on the 12th July 1916 and was taken to 37 Casualty Clearing Station. A few days later he was transferred by hospital train and admitted into a hospital at Le Treport. By the 9th November 1916 he had been transferred to 39 General Hospital at Etaples before finally re-joining his Battalion on the 19th December 1916.

 

200225-corporal-richard-bonney-eaves-3 200225-corporal-richard-bonney-eaves-4

Undated postcard sent by Richard to his children

From the 31st March 1917 until the 24th April 1917 Richard was at the 55th Divisional School and then on the 10th May he was one of a number of men temporarily attached to the 177th Tunnelling Coy, staying with them until the 11th June 1917. At the time the 177th Tunnelling Company was engaged in mining activities on the Bellewaerde Ridge near Zillebeke.

Sadly, Richard was posted as missing during an attack on the 31st July 1917, the first day of the 3rd Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele).

At 03:30hrs on 31st July 1917 the British opened up a heavy artillery barrage on the enemy. Later, the 1/4th Bn, part of the 164th Brigade were tasked to seize and secure the Gheluvelt-Langemarck line.

Midway into the advance towards their objective, casualties began to get particularly heavy, owing to enemy sniper fire, machine-gun fire and shelling from two sides. A number of Officers had also been killed. The Battalion continued to push forward and succeeded in securing their objective by 11:40hrs. The line was held up until around 14:30hrs, until the enemy successfully counter-attacked and forced the Brigade to fall back.

Casualties had been high, just over 50 men from the 1/4th Bn killed; and another 250 men were wounded or missing during the attack.

Richard managed to send two postcards home from France, one to his wife and the other to his little son, both of them dated 28th July 1917 which was just three days before the attack. Whether they received them before or after they were officially informed that he was missing is unknown.

200225-corporal-richard-bonney-eaves-5 200225-corporal-richard-bonney-eaves-5b

200225-corporal-richard-bonney-eaves-6 200225-corporal-richard-bonney-eaves-6bRichard`s widow Grace received a pension for herself and their two children amounting to 24s/2d with effect from the 1st April 1918.

After the war Grace took receipt of her husband`s 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals to which he was entitled and would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice for his country.

As Richard`s body was never recovered from the battlefield, his name was later inscribed on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial to the Missing. He is also remembered on the War Memorial in his home town of Lytham.

 

lytham-war-memorial lytham-war-memorial-panel

Lytham War Memorial

Rank: Corporal
Service No: 200225
Date of Death: 31/07/1917
Age: 31
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. C Coy, 1st/4th Bn.
Memorial: YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL

 

Additional Family Information

200226 Private John a.k.a. Jack Eaves “C” Coy 1/4th Battalion LNL enlisted with his brother on the 5th September 1914. Wounded at Festubert 15/6/15. Jack married Lilian Ferguson on the 23rd September 1918 at St. Philip`s Church in Salford, his occupation at the time was still a soldier. Jack`s papers are not available so there is no further information on his service. However, he survived the war and was disembodied on the 14th February 1919. For his war service he received the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals.

After his marriage to Lilian the couple returned to live in Lytham and had a family of their own. In 1939 Jack was a self-employed gardener and was living with Lilian and his children at 123 Preston Road in Lytham. Jack died in 1959 aged 64 years.

Richard`s photograph and his WW1 Postcards are reproduced with the kind permission of his grandson William Eaves.

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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2 Responses to 200225 CPL. R. B. EAVES. L.N.LAN.R.

  1. Allison Scott-Eagan says:

    Hello there – it turns out this is a relative of mine (my Mother’s side). Any more info would be greatly appreciated. As it is, this story and article are an amazing read. Thank you so much for your work, this means a lot to us. -Allison Scott-Eagan P.S. This is my mom (Sharon Eileen (Bissonnette) Scott)’s grandfather, as John Eaves is her great-great grandfather).

  2. Margaret says:

    Richard Eaves could not be your mother’s grandfather. He had 6 grandchildren and one of them is my husband, the others are his brother and their cousins. Her grandparent must be one of Richard’s siblings. Do you live in the UK? I know one of his brothers, William, emigrated to Canada and eventually to the USA. The rest lived all their lives in the UK. Hope this helps

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