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Richard Sutton was born in 1900. He was the son of unmarried 18 year old Elizabeth Sutton and grew up living with his mother, four uncles and auntie, in his grandparents house at 16 Chapel Lane, Coppull, Wigan, Lancashire.

Richard enlisted in the 2/2 (Territorial) Battalion of the Monmouthshire Regiment on 10 April 1912. He was 12 years old. He was given the service number 228838 and posted into A Company.

On the 06 August 1914 Richard joined the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, and was posted to the 4th Bn. He gave his age as being 17yrs 8mths, he was actually 14.

On 25 June 1915 he was transferred to the 42nd Prov. Bn, then on to the 2/4th Bn that September. At the beginning of December he was transferred back to the 42nd, then on again to the 3/4th Bn on 28 February 1916.

On 10 April 1916 he embarked at Southampton bound for Rouen, France. He was to be  part of a group of new reinforcements to the 10th Bn, joining them in the field on the 18 April.

On 20 October 1916 he was promoted to LCpl, unfortunately it was soon discovered that he was underage. Richard was sent back to England on 21 November.

In the December he transferred to the 2/1 Bn of the Herefordshire Regiment. He kept his rank LCpl, however two weeks later he transferred again to the 2/1 Bn of the Monmouthshire Regiment.

On the 22 January 1917, still in England he was deprived of his LCpl stripe and reverted to Private. This was for the following reasons;

Neglect of duty whilst orderly Corporal

Improper reply to a SNCO

Absent from company orderly room at 07:00hrs

Found in bed after reveille

In November 1917 Richard was again in trouble with his senior ranks, this time the charges and punishments were;

Absent from escort duty from 22:00hrs on 06 Nov, until apprehended by Military Police at 13:30hrs on 08 Nov.

Not complying with an order

Richard was awarded 14 days detention by Commanding Officer (CO). He was awaiting trial in close confinement from 08 – 12 Nov.

Things didn’t get any better for Richard, a month later, his name was again brought to the attention of the CO;

Absenting himself without leave from 11 December 1917 until surrendering himself to Cpl Birchall at D Companys’ central mess about 16:30hrs on 04 January 1918 (25 days).

This time Richard was awarded 25 days detention, and deducted 25 days pay. He was awaiting trial in close confinement from 04 – 08 Jan.

A week later, on 15 January 1918 he sailed again for France.

On 06 February 1918, Richard transferred to the 1/2nd bn of the Regiment. It wasn’t long before he was in trouble again. On 21 March;

Awarded 7 days PPNO(?) by CO for leaving a working party without permission.

In April 1918 Richard was wounded twice, he was admitted to hospital on the 13th for gunshot wounds to his right hand, then again on the 27th for gunshot wounds to his left hand. He rejoined the battalion on 04 May.

On the 25th May he was admitted to hospital for the third time, on this occasion he had been gassed near Armentieres, Belgium. He spent nearly two months in hospital, not rejoining the battalion until 20 July. Another week in hospital came in the November.

Richard returned to England on 30 December 1918.

In May 1919 he was transfered to the 6th Bn South Wales Borders, although this was canceled the following month when he was disembodied.

Bearing in mind that Richard was regularly going AWOL, it is somewhat surprising that a fortnight later, on 30 June 1919 he decided that he would attest again into the Army, this time the Lancashire Fusiliers was the Regiment of choice. His new service number was 71476.

Following a week at the Depot, he was posted into the 2nd Bn. Less than two weeks later he was up to his old tricks.

Forfits 6 days pay for absence from 23 – 29 July 1919.

Obviously not particularly bothered by this, a few days later…

Forfits 13 days pay for absence from 02 – 15 August 1919.

Richard was posted to the 1st Bn in the November. That didn’t change his ways;

Awarded 9 days detention by CO for absence from 28 December 1919 – 06 January 1920, and misconduct.

It was hardly surprising that whilst at Aldershot two months later, he was finally discharged as being surplus to military requirements.

Richard applied for, and received a pension of 5/6 per week for one year. This was approved on the basis of his claim that he was gassed at Armentieres (correct), and  that he still suffered headaches from a gunshot wound to the head in June 1915 (he didn’t serve overseas until April 1916 – this may have been a training injury, but I am surprised that there is no mention of it at all in his comprehensive service records).

Richard was 20 years old when he was finally discharged in 1920, he gave his address on discharge again as his grandparents house in Wigan.

Paul McCormick
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