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Richard Preston

Private Richard Preston, 36299, Northumberland Fusiliers, 18th Battalion

Richard Preston was born in the Dewsbury area in 1886, the son of Charles Preston of Doncaster and his wife, Ellen Elizabeth (nee Smith), of Blacker Green, Doncaster who married in early 1886 in the Doncaster area. The Preston family were living Carlisle Street, Dewsbury in 1901 and had moved to Batley in 1911.

Richard Preston married Florence Gertrude Haley of Hanging Heaton in July 1911 and they had a son, Charles Preston who was born in 1913.

No connection can be found with a Richard Preston and Ossett, and it is not yet clear why his name was included on the Ossett War Memorial listing.

18th (1st Tyneside Pioneers) Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers was raised at Newcastle on the 14th October 1914, by the Lord Mayor and City. They converted to a Pioneer Battalion on the 8th of February 1915 and joined 34th Division in June. After further training at Ripon and Salisbury Plain, they proceeded to France, landing at Le Havre on the 8th of January 1916. They saw action in The Battle of the Somme in 1916, in the Arras Offensive and the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917.

In 1918 they were in action in The Battle of St Quentin and then moved to Flanders seeing action in The Battle of Estaires, The Battle of Bailleul and The First Battle for Kemmel Ridge during the Battles of the Lys, suffering heavy losses. The 34th Division was then withdrawn from fighting and on the 21st of April they moved to the area west of Poperinge for re-organisation and was engaged in digging a new defensive line between Abeele and Watou.

In June 1918 they joined 39th Division in an infantry role, following heavy losses in the 39th during the Battle of the Lys. The Division was then engaged in training the troops of the 77th American Division. In July, the 1st Tyneside Pioneers resumed their original role when they transferred to 66th Division for operations on the Flanders Coast and the Third Battle of Ypres, in 1918 they again saw action on The Somme.

Private Richard Preston was killed in action during the Battle of the Lys, most probably at the First Battle of Kemmel between the 17th and 19th April 1918, when 34 Division were heavily involved.

Private Richard Preston, aged 32 years, husband of Florence Gertrude Preston, of 2, Rock Terrace, Jack Lane, Common Side, Hanging Heaton, Batley, died on the 17th April 1918. He is buried at grave reference I.D.5 at the Mont Noir Military Cemetery, St. Jans-Cappel 1 Nord, France. St. Jans-Cappel is a village 3 kilometres north of Baillieul.

The hill was captured by the Cavalry Corps on the 13th October 1914, and held throughout the Battles of the Lys, 1918. On the North side of the Berthen-Westoutre road, is the Battle Memorial of the 34th Division, marking the final position of Divisional Headquarters in the Battles of the Lys.

The Cemetery was made in April-September 1918, and at the Armistice it contained 91 British graves and 33 French (all of the 26th Dragoons or the 88th Infantry Regiment). It was then enlarged by the concentration of British and French graves (including one of November 1914) from the battlefields immediately South of it and the following cemetery:

Wolfhoek British Cemetery, St. Jans-Cappel, which was by the roadside, nearly 200 metres South-West of the hamlet of Wolfhoek and contained the graves of 23 United Kingdom soldiers. It was made in August-September 1918, mainly by the 36th (Ulster) Division.

There are now 149 Commonwealth burials of the 1914-1918 war here, 15 being unidentified. There are 2 unidentified Commonwealth burials of the 1939-1945 war here. There are also 84 French burials of the 1914-1918 war here.


1. Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site