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Eric Stanley RICHARDS

Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Pte 518 27y1m 25 Jul 1916 16 Oct 1919 2

Private Eric Stanley Richards (1889 - 1972)  


Family Background 

Eric Stanley Richards was just over 27 years old when he enlisted in Brisbane on 25 July 1916.  Eric, the son of Thomas William and Priscilla Jane (née Cousins) who were married in 1870, was born in St Leonards NSW in about 1889.  When he enlisted in Brisbane on 25 July 1916 he was 5ft 5ins (165cm) tall, weighed 135lbs (61kg) and had a medium complexion with brown eyes and hair. His occupation was given as a farmer at Woombye.

On 14 July 1916 in Nambour he had married Jessie Marion Snodgrass (recorded as Marion Jessie Snodgrass on the death records of Eric and his two children), daughter of John R. Snodgrass and Eleanor née Oakes.  They had two children, a girl Frances who was born in 1925 and died on 18 June 1951, and bore him a grandson, and Geoffrey who died in 1961. Frances married John Glazebrook at Saint Stephen’s Presbyterian Church in Maryborough Queensland on 1 May 1948.  It was their son who is named as one of the informants on Eric’s death certificate.


Private Richards enlisted in the 8/12 Machine Gun Company.  From 21 August to 16 September he attended Corporal School and from 15 October to 30 November the Machine Gun Depot in Seymour.  He embarked on the Medic in Melbourne on 16 December 1916, arriving in Plymouth on 18 February 1917 and marching in to the Machine Gun Training Depot at Grantham.

Machine Gun Battalion

On 1 April his Unit was re-designated the 4th Machine Gun Battalion.  This was an infantry support unit of the Australian Army.  Originally formed in March 1918 for service during World War I as part of the all volunteer Australian Imperial Force, it was one of five such units raised as part of the AIF during the war.  The battalion consisted of four machine gun companies, which had previously existed as independent companies assigned mainly at brigade level.  The battalion took part in the final stages of the war, seeing action during the Allied defensive operations during the German Spring Offensive and then the Allied Hundred Days Offensive, which finally brought an end to the war.  The battalion was disbanded in mid-1919 during the demobilisation of the AIF following the conclusion of hostilities.

The first three of the battalion's constituent companies had been formed in Egypt in February 1916 and arrived in Europe in mid-1916.  These companies had participated in the fighting around Pozières and Mouquet Farm in 1916, before taking part in the Battle of Bullecourt in early 1917 as the Germans withdrew to the Hindenburg Line.  They had subsequently taken part in the fighting around Messines and Ypres in the latter half of 1917.

Service in France

In June 1917 Eric Richards’ unit was moved to France but on 2 August he was diagnosed suffering from influenza and returned to England.  On 17 August he was admitted to the City of London Military Hospital in Clapton.

In March 1918 he returned to France and rejoined his unit.  On 18 September 1918 Private Richards was wounded in action receiving a gunshot wound to his right chest.  He was evacuated on the hospital ship Guildford Castle to England on 22 September and admitted to the Southern General Hospital in Birmingham.

Post War

His return home was by HT Chemnitz on 7 July 1919 arriving in Australia in early September where he was discharged on 16 October 1919.  Eric was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.

Richards died in Maryborough Queensland on 13 August 1972 from illness from which he had suffered for many years, and is buried in the Maryborough Garden of Rest.  His death certificate indicated that he had lived in New South Wales for 22 years and in Queensland for 61 years.

• Australian Electoral Rolls
• Australian War Memorial – embarkation rolls, unit war diaries.
• National Archives of Australia – service records.
• Queensland births, marriages and deaths registers.
• History learning site UK

Written by Bob Warrick, Brisbane.  May 2017 ©



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