Dedicated to the memory of all the men and women of the Bridgnorth area who died during the two World Wars.
Thomas was born at Alveley on 3rd October 1885 and was baptised at the church on Christmas Day. He was the son of Annie Richards of Dodds Green, Alveley. In 1891 he was living at Dodds Green with his elderly grandparents, Thomas and Catherine Richards, and his younger sister, Catherine Annie. In 1901 he was living at the South East Shropshire District School at Quatt.
The District School had been set up as an enlightened attempt to break the cycle of poverty by giving farming and smallholding skills to children who would otherwise be in the workhouse. After leaving the school, Thomas found work as a farm labourer in Alveley.
Thomas must have spent some time in the army before the war as he went to France with the 1st Battalion King's Shropshire Light Infantry (a regular battalion) on the 10th of September, 1914. As a member of the 1st Battalion, He would have taken part in the Battles of The Aisne and Armentieres (1914).
Thomas was killed in action on the 9th August, 1915 during the Battle at Hooge (when the 6th Division retook positions lost at the end of July during the attack in which the Germans used liquid flame throwers against the British for the first time). He is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. The Regimental History records:
The attack was launched at 3.15 a.m. on August 9th on a front of about 1,000 yards, and was completely successful. The artillery co-operation was most skilfully carried out, and largely contributed to the success. Flammenwerthers, which had been used by the enemy against the 14th Division when taking the position, were found in the enemy trenches, one being captured by the battalion.
Not only was all the lost ground regained and held, in spite of desperate counter-attacks, but, in addition, an important spur, north of the Menin Road, on the extreme left of the attack, was won and consolidated with the final position. The signal success of this action won great praise for the Division, and the attack was for some time afterwards regarded as a model of the effective use of close co-operation between infantry and artillery. The battalion had done their work splendidly, the men behaving with the utmost steadiness, following their officers confidently and amply justifying the confidence reposed in them. The price was heavy. [4 Officers & 41 Other Ranks killed]
Private Thomas Richards, 10079, 1st KSLI, was awarded the Victory and British War Medals and the 1914 star. His death was reported in the Bridgnorth Journal on 11th Sept., 1915:
Private Thomas Richards, a native of Alveley, near Bridgnorth, has lost his life in the service of his country, being killed in action in Flanders on August 9th by machine-gun fire in the head. For some time he was one of the Alveley bellringers and when on leave after joining the Army came to take his old place in the belfry.
This memorial has mostly been compiled from official sources. It would be good to be able to expand it with more personal material - memories, stories, photos, etc. If you have any suitable material or any corrections please contact Greg. For news of updates follow @BridgnorthHeros on Twitter.