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Richard Dunderdale was born in 1897 in Preston to Mathias and Elizabeth Dunderdale (nee Dockering). His parents were married in Emmanuel Church in Preston on 12 April, 1879. Mathias Dunderdale was originally a cotton weaver but by 1901 he was working as a bricklayer`s labourer and the family were living at 23 George Street in Preston. Mathias and Elizabeth had at least thirteen children but sadly not all of them survived.

Mathias Dunderdale died in 1907 and by 1911 his widow Elizabeth had moved to a three roomed house in Cooper Street with Richard and four of her other children, Henry (1886), Esther (1893), Annie (1900) and Stanley (1907). At the time Richard was an apprentice in an iron foundry and apart from the two youngest children the others were all cotton workers including their mother Elizabeth.

Richard went to enlist at Preston at the age of 17 years and 6 months old, signing his papers on the 21 August, 1914. Prior to his enlistment he had been working at Calvert`s Mill in Walton le Dale as a spinner.

The details on his medical form state that he was only five feet one inches tall and weighed just 103lbs. His eyes were blue and his hair was light brown. He was allocated the number 2931 and by the 30 October, 1914 he had been posted to the 11th (Reserve) Battalion.

He remained with the 11th Battalion until the 5 February 1915 and was then sent to join the 3rd Battalion at Felixstowe. Richard had only been there for one day before he was in trouble for “hesitating to comply with an order” for this he was punished with 7 days confined to barracks.

After three months of training with the 3rd Battalion he embarked for France with a batch of reinforcements on the 18 May, 1915 and was subsequently posted to the 1st Battalion.

Sadly, Richard Dunderdale was killed during the opening day of the battle of Loos on the 25 September, 1915.

The Battalion War Diary reads;

Battle of Loos – 25th September 1915
Morning of the attack. Lines are to be out by 04.30hrs. Original hours for gas to commence at 04.50hrs changed to 05.50hrs. Orders to leave trenches 06.29hrs changed to 06.34hrs. Gas no sooner commenced then wind changed and blew it back on us and the front line suffered badly.

Battalion advanced at 06.35hrs but owing to gas got mixed up and all four lines advanced together, also we got mixed up with the Kings Royal Rifle Corps on our right. We advanced up to the German wire, but found it uncut and returned back to the trenches.

Colonel Sanderson led out as many men as possible again but it was of no use, and he and the Adjutant, Captain Diver were wounded and also 2nd Lieutenant P Goldie, who was with them, was killed. Officer casualties 9 killed, 5 wounded, 2 missing. Captain Falkner and 2nd Lieutenant Livesey, Wharton and Healy all found killed right on the German wire. 2nd Lieutenant Wasbrough, Machine-gun officer took his two guns practically up to the German wire, he was killed. 2nd Lieutenant Gardner the other machine-gun officer went out on the left flank with his two guns. Nearly all his team was gassed and he carried a gun out himself with two men. He was gassed but came back to get ammunition and was told by the doctor to go down, but went and got more ammunition. After a small number of the Brigade had attempted to advance again, they stayed in the trenches.

Germans to our front surrendered to the 9th Kings when they had got half way to the trenches in the afternoon.

2nd Lieutenant N Collins, the senior officer left, assembled the Battalion which numbered three officers and 159 other ranks, and moved off south with the Brigade to `Chalk Pit`. Pouring with rain, Captain N C Phillips joined up later and took command. He had been gassed in the morning and was also still fairly bad. Captain Nangle, the medical officer, was killed whilst attending a wounded man, a great loss to the Battalion.

Richard`s service papers state that he was buried on the battlefield.
After his mother was informed of her son`s death the following article appeared in the Preston Guardian.


(*The above article refers to Richard`s Regiment as being the East Lancashire Regiment which is incorrect.)

Richard was entitled to the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals which his mother Elizabeth later signed for. Whether she ever received any of her son`s personal possessions is unknown.

Although Richard was apparently buried on the battlefield his body like many others was never recovered and so his name is remembered on the Loos Memorial to the Missing.

Janet Davis
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