Hartland Wheare Richards

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Hartland Wheare Richards
Richards Hartland.jpg
photos courtesy of the Richards family
Hartland postcard to Amy.jpg
Personal Information
Date of Birth ? Jan 1895
Place of Birth Gilberton, South Australia
Death 28 Feb 1988, aged 93.
Place of Death Trigg, Western Australia
Age at Enlistment 21 years, 1 month
Description 5'2" (1.57m) tall ; 120lbs
54.431 kg
; fair complexion ; grey eyes ; brown hair
Occupation Labourer
Religion Baptist
Address Armadale, Western Australia
Next of Kin Mother , Mrs. Edith Mary Richards
Military Information
Reg Number 6324
Date of Enlistment 1 Mar 1916
Rank Private
Unit/Formation 16th Battalion, 20th Reinforcement, D Company / 4th Brigade, 4th Division
Date of Embarkation 13 Oct 1916 ‒ 2 Dec 1916
Ship Embarked On HMAT A23 Suffolk
Date of Return 3 Mar 1919 ‒ 21 Apr 1919
Ship Returned On HMAT A14 Euripides
Fate Missing in Action 11 Apr 1917, later Prisoner of War 1st Bullecourt
Returned to Australia
Monument Armadale War Memorial (Armadale panel)
Armadale Congregational Church Honour Board
Armadale and Districts Roll of Honour
The Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial Ballarat, Victoria
Medals British War Medal
Victory Medal

Pre War

Family resident in Armadale - father was the headmaster of Armadale school.

War Service

After early training at Blackboy Hill he was assigned to the 20th Reinforcement draft for the 16th Battalion which sailed for England aboard HMAT A23 Suffolk, disembarking there on 1 Dec 1916. The following day he was sent to a Training Battalion where he spent another 6 months in training before journeying to France on the HMT Princess Victoria from Folkestone on 16 Jan 1917.

Five days later on 21 Jul 1917, he was taken on strength of the 16th Battalion, which at that time was in Mametz Camp on fatigue duties, fixing up the camp to better handle the wet weather. Several days later they moved to Townsville Camp to do the same there. Mametz was approximately 5 km east of Albert and a similar distance south of Poziéres. Hartland remained with the 16th until captured during the 1st Bullecourt battle when 'D' Company was in the centre of the attack by the battalion towards Reincourt commencing at 4.45am on 11 Apr 1917. While they captured their first and second objectives, they were badly let down by the tanks and artillery that were meant to support them, and after hours of furious fighting, many had to surrender when they ran out of ammunition, soon after 11.30am. A small number escaped back to their start point. The unit's War Diary, instead of listing the casualties, instead listed those who came back such was the loss of personnel. It was nearly two months before the battalion had sufficient numerical strength to serve in the front line again.

Hartland's actual point of capture was near Riencourt, well behind the German lines. Following a period working on roads, etc behind the lines he was sent to Germany where he was Interred in Limburg POW camp, before being sent to Prussia to work on farms. He was repatriated to England on 25 Dec 1918. [1].

Following repatriation Hartland was given a month's leave in England from 27 Dec 1918 until 29 Jan 1919, which he extended by another two days (excuse accepted) before reporting back to AIF Headquarters in London, and then on to No. 1 Command Depot at Sutton Veny to prepare for the journey home. (See "A Guest of the Kaiser" held in the Birtwistle Local Studies Library, Armadale for more details of his time as a POW.

" Enlisted 27th March,1916, 20th Reinforcements of the 16th Battalion; sailed 10th October, 1916."[2]

Hartland was mentioned in a postcard written by S.T. (Syd) Burnett after their capture.

Extract from Hartland's POW postcard 31 May 1917

"Camp Limburg - Prisoner along with Claude Marsh 6553. Send bully or biscuits, if you cannot do anything, hand this card to Sgt George Martin." Written across this card:- Prisoners are not allowed to write to friends in the active Army; but to parents and relatives only. Card was addressed to: Pte John Angelo 16th AIF 26 July 1917. C2 casualties France.

National Archives records contain several letters from him while a POW. Repatriated to England via Ripon where he arrived on 25 Dec 1916. Discharged by the 5th Military District on 29 May 1919.

In a statement on 22 Jun 1917 by an escaped POW Pte G Stewart 6214, Hatland's status as a prisoner was confirmed, and that he was known in the unit as "Ritchie".

In letter home to his father dated 27th May 1917, he speaks of working in a village close to the firing line. They were all thinner, and looking forward to Red Cross food parcels. A particular request was for soap as he had not had a decent wash since being captured and that Claude Marsh was looking pretty miserable. It would appear that the group captured together had remained together.

301st casualty List mentions J.W. Richards of Armadale as Missing.[3]

Post War

"The Listening Post" Jun 1922 edition mentions his performance at an Armadale RSL Glee Party.

Electoral Roll entries: 1925 "Clovelly", Roleystone - a farmer; 1931 a store assistant at 88 Salisbury street, Maylands; 1936 a tram employee at 71 Roseberry street, Bayswater; 1943 at 67 Roseberry street, Bayswater; 1980 he has retired to 26a Kathleen street, Trigg where he died in 1988 aged 93, a year after his wife Violet (Hawes).


  1. "Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Files - Hartland Wheare Richards". Australian War Memorial. 2018. Retrieved 2 May 2018. 
  2. "The Drill of the Foot-Hills" (PDF) (1917). Western Australia. Mar 1917. p. 7. Retrieved 16 May 2017 – via State Library of Western Australia. 
  3. "WESTERN AUSTRALIA.". The West Australian. XXXIII, (4,722). Western Australia. 22 May 1917. p. 5. Retrieved 25 July 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 

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