(L to R) Khedive's Star; 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal
Dick was born in Hulme, Manchester. We don't know anything about his early life or family.
We believe Dick joined the Special Reserve of the Manchester Regiment in around mid to late 1908. He enlisted in Fleetwood, Lancashire. There were 2 battalions of Special Reservists in the Manchester Regiment; the 3rd and the 4th. We don't know which Dick joined, but he was given the service number 881.
A Special Reservist was a man who had not previously served in the Regular Army. They kept their civilian career, but trained to be a soldier for a short period every year. Unlike the Territorial Force, which was intended to serve as complete units within the UK or Empire, Special Reservists could be sent to join Army units anywhere as individuals or in small groups.
When the First World War broke out in August 1914 the Special Reserve was mobilised. The 3rd Battalion moved to Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire and the 4th was sent to nearby Riby. This meant that they could be used to defend against a German invasion as well as training and equipping reservists.
Once the Special Reservists were trained and equipped they waited to be sent overseas to the 1st or 2nd Battalion. Dick was sent to France on the 27th March 1915 and joined the 1st Battalion. They had just taken part in the attack on Neuve Chappelle where they had taken heavy casualties.
We believe Dick fought with the 1st Battalion during the 2nd Battle of Ypres, which was fought in Belgium during April. He is also likely to have fought in the Battle of Loos during September. The 1st Battalion took heavy casualties in this battle and it was decided to send them to Mesopotamia, now Iraq. They set sail from Marseilles on the 10th December and arrived in Basra on the 8th January 1916.
Dick's first 4 months in Mesopotamia were spent trying to relieve British forces trapped in the town of Kut-al-Amara. Despite hard fighting the British forces outside Kut were unable to defeat the Turks and rescue their comrades. The town surrendered on the 29th April. After this there was much less fighting as the British built up their forces.
Conditions in Mesopotamia were difficult even without fighting going on. Extremely high temperatures combined with flies, mosquitos and generally poor living conditions meant that disease was common. If a soldier fell sick he usually faced a long boat ride south to hospital in Basra. Over 12,000 soldiers died of disease or sickness during the campaign, and we believe Dick was one of them. He died on the 3rd October 1916. We don't know anything about what he died from or where he was. Dick has no known grave, which suggests he could have died aboard a hospital ship and been buried at sea.
Dick is one of 40,682 men with no known grave whose names are listed on the Basra Memorial in Iraq. His name is on Panel 31 or Panel 64. As of 2013 the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is not able to maintain this memorial because of the political situation in Iraq. They have produced a Roll of Honour listing all these names and put it on display at their Head Office on Marlow Road in Maidenhead, Berkshire, SL6 7DX.
Both battalions of the Special Reserve issued their own service numbers. Number 881 in the other battalion belonged to John Edward Taylor. Both men served in the 1st Battalion in Mesopotamia during early 1916. John also died of disease or sickness on the 4th May 1916. He was 32 years old and is buried in Amara War Cemetery, Iraq.
Dick's medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in April 2001. The Khedive's Star was donated at the same time. This was awarded for service in the Anglo-Egyptian War of 1882, so it is extremely unlikely to have been awarded to Dick. Unfortunately we don't have any information about who it did belong to.