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Richard Lancaster was born in 1888 in Longton.  His father was Frederick Lancaster (b. 1859 in Congleton), who worked on the docks in Preston before moving to Bamber Bridge where he worked as a labourer/fitter in an iron foundry.  His mother was Nancy Ashworth (b. 1866 in Broughton).  Fred and Nancy were married in 1886 and they had 12 children, 7 of whom survived infancy: Richard, Frederick (b. 1895), Gertrude (b. 1896), Walter (b. 1898), Nancy (b. 1904), Charles (b. 1907) and Jane (b. 1909).  The family moved to Bamber Bridge in about 1905 and in 1911 they were living at 17 Club Street.  Richard was a horseman on a farm.


Richard enlisted in Preston on 16 September 1914, joining the Rifle Brigade.  He was assigned service number Z/2996 and posted to 2nd Battalion.  At the time of his attestation he was 5’ 8” tall, weighed 148lbs and had a 38” chest – well built for the time. 


2Bn Rif.Brig. came under orders of 25th Brigade in 8th Division and they landed in France in November 1914.  Richard joined them in the field on 16 March 1915.  The Division had just participated in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle (10-13 March) where they had suffered almost 5,000 casualties for little or no strategic gain.  In the aftermath of the battle, the British revised their tactics and began to use heavy ‘hurricane’ artillery bombardments in advance of the infantry attack.  This new tactic was deployed at Aubers Ridge (9 May).  This battle was an unmitigated disaster for the British army. No ground was won and no tactical advantage gained. It is doubted if it had the slightest positive effect on assisting the main French attack 15 miles (24 km) to the south.  254 officers and men from 2Bn were killed at Aubers Ridge on 9 May.  Very few bodies were recovered and they are commemorated at Ploegsteert Memorial.  A further 40 officers and men died either in action or of wounds by the end of the month.  Richard died on 27 May 1915 from wounds received in action.  He was 26 years old.


Rank:  Rifleman

Service No: Z/2996

Date of Death:  27/05/1915

Age:  26

Regiment/Service:  Rifle Brigade, 2Bn

Cemetery/memorial reference: VI. C. 15.


Additional Information:  Son of Fredk. and Nancy Lancaster, of 261 Station Road, Bamber Bridge, Preston.


Richard’s brothers, Frederick and Walter, also served.  Walter may be Pte. Walter A Lancaster, 45444 in the Northumberland Regiment who later transferred as 33787 York and Lancaster Regiment.  I have no information about Frederick.

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