Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Richard Hall

Richard Hall :

Richard Hall : India General Service Medal (1854) with clasp 'Samana 1891'

India General Service Medal (1854) with clasp 'Samana 1891'

Richard was born in around June 1867 in Ardwick, Manchester. He was named after his father and he was a member of the Church of England, but we don't know anything else about his early life or family.

By the time Richard was 21 he worked as a bolt maker. He had also joined the 2nd Manchester Rifle Volunteers. This unit was made up of men who kept their civilian jobs and trained as soldiers during the evenings and at weekends. Richard must have enjoyed this experience of Army life because he joined the Manchester Regiment as a Regular soldier on the 10th August 1888.

When he enlisted Richard was 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighed 133 pounds. He had a 'sallow' complexion, hazel eyes and brown hair. He was given the service number 2277 and assigned to the 1st Battalion of the Manchester Regiment in Tipperary, Ireland.

Richard was posted to the 2nd Battalion on the 21st February 1890. He travelled to India and joined them in Agra. They moved to Sialkot in modern Pakistan on the 6th April 1890. He was promoted to Lance Corporal on the 15th August and began to receive an extra 1 penny (1d) per day Good Conduct Pay on the 12th March 1891.

Soon afterwards Richard went to war. The 2nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment was one of the units ordered to put down a rebellion in the Miranzai Valley on the North West Frontier with Afghanistan. Richard was one of the 300 Manchester Regiment soldiers who took part in this campaign, called the Miranzai Expedition. It lasted from the 3rd to the 25th May 1891. Samana is the name of the mountain range that rises out of the Miranzai Valley. The British fought hard to capture it.

On the 6th April 1892 Richard obtained the Army 2nd Class Certificate of Education. That July he was promoted to Corporal, and in October he extended the period he was willing to serve in the Army from 7 years to 12.

The 2nd Battalion left Sialkot for Meerut in the modern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh during November 1892. They spent time in Chakrata in the foothills of the Himalayas, and arrived in Dinapore, now Danapur, Bihar State, in 1893. Richard would be based here until he returned to the UK on the 26th May 1897.

On the 1st April 1894 Richard was promoted to Sergeant. His Good Conduct Pay was increased to 2d per day on the 10th August.

Richard was found to be drunk on duty one day during early February 1897. He was placed in confinement on the 14th and tried for this offence by a Court Martial on the 23rd. He was found guilty and sentenced to be reduced to the rank of Private. He also forfeited 1d of his Good Conduct Pay.

After Richard returned to the UK that May he was transferred to the Army Reserve. This meant he could find a home and a job, but could be called back to the Army in an emergency.

On the 26th December 1899 an emergency arose and Richard was recalled. The emergency was the British defeats and casualties in the opening weeks of the Boer War, which had begun in October 1899. Richard was assigned to the 2nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment, which arrived in South Africa in April 1900. He served there and took part in patrols of the countryside aimed at restricting the movements of the Boer forces until the 26th February 1901. On this day he was invalided back to the UK. We don't know whether he had been wounded or fallen sick. We believe he was a member of E Company during his time with the 2nd Battalion.

Once he had recovered Richard was assigned to the 4th Battalion. This unit had been formed in March 1900 and was based in Portland in Dorset when he joined them on the 3rd June 1901. He was promoted to Lance Corporal on the same day and became a Corporal again on the 1st October. The 4th Battalion moved to Kinsale in County Cork, Ireland during July 1901 and then to Cork itself in February 1902.

Richard was injured on duty on the 16th May. At around 11:30am he had just given an order to a section of soldiers when, as he put it, 'I followed, put my foot on a big stone and fell'. He was able to march back to camp, but 'had to go sick the next morning as my ankle had swollen up and I could not put my foot on the ground'. He had sprained his ankle and the battalion Medical Officer sent him to hospital in Queenstown. We don't know how long he had to spend there.

On the 8th January 1903 Richard was promoted to Lance Sergeant. He held this rank for most of the year and returned to the rank of Sergeant on the 17th November.

On the 8th February 1904 Richard married Alice Robinson at St Luke Church in Cork. They had at least 3 children. Alice was born on the 5th February 1906 in Aldershot, Thomas on the 5th March 1908 in Portsmouth and Richard in around July 1910 in Manchester.

Just like the first time he had been a Sergeant Richard was again charged with being drunk on duty on the 2nd June 1905. After a Court Martial on the 10th he was again reduced to the rank of Private.

During October 1905 the 4th Battalion left Ireland and moved to Aldershot in Hampshire. During 1906 it was decided to disband the Battalion. Richard had regained the rank of Lance Corporal on the 4th August and on the 15th November he was sent back to the 2nd Battalion, who were now in Guernsey.

On the 15th October 1907 Richard was again reduced to Private for drunkenness. He would hold this rank until his Army service ended on the 9th August 1909. At this time the 2nd Battalion were based in Portsmouth, Hampshire. Richard was 5 feet 6 inches tall when he was discharged after 21 years exactly. His character was assessed as 'fair'.

Richard told the Army that he intended to go and live at 10 Milton Street, off Fairfield Street near what is now Manchester Piccadilly railway station. We don't know whether he did. By 1911 he was living with his family at nearby 13 Lower Albion Street. Richard had returned to his old trade as a bolt maker and worked at S. Marsden and Sons nut and bolt makers. He had an easy commute; they were based on the corner of Lower Albion Street. In 1963 their factory was demolished and replaced by the Barnes Wallace Building of what was then the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology. This became the University of Manchester in 2004.

The First World War broke out in August 1914 and in October the Army sent Richard a form to fill in if he wanted to re-enlist. He later wrote a letter to the War Office explaining what happened next:

'I filled in the form I sent my papers [his discharge papers and his marriage certificate] to the Depot Ashton Barracks. I went to the Depot in 1915 to join up I was asked where I worked I told the officer...He told me my firm was under the Government making war material I must not join any unit.

I asked for my papers I was told they would be sent to me. I waited for 3 month they never came.'

It would appear that Richard never received his papers back from the Army. On the 26th September 1935 Richard applied for a replacement set. At the time he lived at 11 Golbourne Avenue in Withington, Manchester. We don't know if he ever received new papers, or anything about the rest of his life.

Richard's medal was donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in November 1945. As well as his India General Service Medal he was also awarded the Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps 'Cape Colony', 'Transvaal', 'Wittebergen' and 'South Africa 1901'.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
Heritage Wharf
Ashton-under-Lyne
OL7 0QA

Telephone: 0161 343 2878
Email: Portland.Basin@tameside.gov.uk
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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council