12-1268 Pte Richard Henry WALKER 12th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment
KILLED IN ACTION 16th May 1916
Richard Henry WALKER was born in the parish of St Johns, Sheffield in 1896. The son of Richard and Elizabeth, the 1901 census shows them living at 12 St Johns Walk, Sheffield and in 1911 at 265 Granville Road, Sheffield.
1n 1911 he is shown employed as an office boy at a law firm.
Richard enlisted on the 1st January 1915, aged just 19yrs and was allocated service number 12-1268. He is first seen to be with ‘E’ Coy but later transfers to ‘A’ Coy.
He embarked HMTS NESTOR on 20th December 1915 and arrived at Alexandria on 1st January 1916. After a short spell in the heat the Regiment embarked HMTS BRITON on 10th March 1916 and set sail for France arriving on the 15th March 1916.
The 12th battalion York and Lancaster Regiment were to take part in the ‘Big Push’ we all now know as the battle of the Somme, to take place on the 1st July 1916.
They took up positions near to the village of Serre, where they would attack on the 1st July. Their positions ran along the leading edge of a series woods that became known as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John Copses.
The Germans, suspicious of British activity, were expecting a large scale offensive so began to launch trench raids on our lines in order to gain intelligence from prisoners. At 12.20am on the 16th May the Germans commenced a heavy bombardment of Mark, Luke, John Copses and the area North of it followed at 12.50am by a bombardment of Observation Wood, Le Cateau, Excema and Nairne trenches and then the Germans launched their attack targeted at the trenches of the Royal Berkshire Regiment on the 12th Y + L Battalions left. Germans were seen entering the 12ths trenches in John Copse and a battle ensued where the Germans were fought off by men of ‘C’ Coy. A number of German casualties were left behind as the enemy retreated out of the trench. The enemy had great success in the area of the line held by the 4th Royal berks Regt who took heavy casualties. As the enemy tried to move along the trenches they were stopped by men of the 12th Battalion Y + L who filled the gaps left by the Royal Berks Regt. The enemy were prevented from breaking through completely and their attack petered out at around 2.10am.
The initial bombardment and subsequent fighting had left a scene of devastation, many men had been buried in dugouts and collapsed trenches. It was their own comrades who set about rescuing them digging with bare hands and whatever they could adapt or improvise. This raid cost the battalion 15 dead and 45 wounded. Richard was one of the dead.
He is buried in the Sucrerie Military Cemetery Colincamps.
He is remembered on the Sheffield Park roll of honour.