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Alexander “Alec” Lister Richardson (1889-1916)

Chester-le-Street teacher commemorated by an oak tree at Wolsingham Grammar School

The following information about Alexander has been contributed by Kian from Wolsingham School:
Private Alexander Richardson was sent off to Egypt in December 1915 at the age of 26. He was in the 18th Battalion Durham Light Infantry (DLI), known as the Durham Pals. Alexander was born in Harperley and worked as an assistant elementary school master. He attended Wolsingham Grammar School where he was the captain of the cricket team and the football team. His death was reported in the school magazine, The Phoenix, where he was described as “worthy to die for his country.” Alexander was awarded the 1915 Star, Victory Medal and British War Medal. He was injured on the battlefield and died on 28 July 1916.

Additional research had found this further information to add to Alexander’s story:
Alexander was one of at least nine children born to John and Mary Jane Richardson. John had married Mary in 1881 and worked as a platelayer on the railways. In both 1891 and 1901 the Richardson family were living in Bedburn, a village near Hamsterley. By 1911 Alexander’s father had died and the family had moved to Chester-le-Street. Alexander was living with his mother, grandmother, and three of his siblings.

Alexander studied at Sunderland Teacher Training College between 1911 and 1913. At the time of his enlistment on 7 September 1914 he was working at Fencehouses County School. Previous to enlistment Alexander had been part of the 7th Durham Territorial Force for over two and a half years. Following enlistment he was posted to the 18th Battalion Durham Light Infantry (DLI) to serve as a private with the service number 18/579.

The 18th Battalion DLI began their service abroad in Egypt, arriving on 6 December 1915. Here they were involved in defending the Suez Canal from Turkish attacks. In March 1916 the battalion moved from Egypt to France in preparation for the expected “Big push”. It was during the first month of the Battle of the Somme that Alexander was wounded on either 27 or 28 July. He was reported missing and then as a prisoner of war (POW). It was whilst receiving treatment for a wound in his abdomen at a field hospital that Alexander died. He was officially recorded to have died from these wounds whilst a POW on 28 July 1916 at Seclin in France. POW records list him as serving in the signalling section of the battalion at the time of his death.

Alexander is buried at Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, in France. He is remembered on several memorials in Chester-le-Street, at his training college in Sunderland and also at the Grammar School in Wolsingham.

Wolsingham Grammar School planted 18 oak trees during 1918 and 1919, each commemorating an old scholar at the school who lost their life serving in the First World War. The following inscription appears on a plaque by the trees: “These trees were planted in memory of Old Boys who fell in the Great War “non timidi pro patria mori”.

Civil Parish: Wolsingham

Birth date: 1889

Death date: 28-Jul-1916

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: Harperley Station Cottages, Fir Tree, Barnard Castle (1891, 1901 Census)
3 Prospect Terrace, Chester-le-Street (1911 Census)

Education: Wolsingham Grammar School
Sunderland Teacher Training College 1911-1913

Religion: Church of England

Employment: Assistant school master – Elementary (1911 Census)
School Master (Service Records)
Fencehouses County School (ROH Durham County Council)

Family: Parents: John Richardson, Mary Jane Richardson nee Lister
Siblings: Sarah Elizabeth Richardson, Charles William Richardson, John Walter Richardson, Frederick Ernest Richardson, Hilda Mary Richardson, Margaret Annie Richardson, Eric Gordon Richardson, Edna Richardson
Grandmother: Sarah Lister

Military service:

18th Battalion DLI
Service Number 18/579

Medal(s): 1915 Star
Victory Medal
British War Medal

Memorial(s): Monument 1914-18, Bridge End, Chester-le-Street
Plaque 1914-18, St. Mary and St. Cuthbert’s Church, Chester-le-Street
Plaque 1914-18, St Mary and St. Cuthbert’s Churchyard, Chester-le-Street
ROH Teacher’s Union, Chester-le-Street
Memorial 1914-18 1939-45, All Wars Market Place, Chester-le-Street
Book of Remembrance 1914-18 DLI, Durham Cathedral
Plaque 1914-18 1939-45, County Hall, Durham
Plaque 1914-18 1939-45, Grammar School, Wolsingham
Photos 1914-18, Grammar School, Wolsingham
Trees 1914-18, Grammar School, Wolsingham
Plaque 1914-18, Teacher training College, Sunderland

Gender: Male

Contributed by Kian Lintern, Wolsingham School

Comments on this story


Alec attended Wolsingham Grammar School and Sunderland teacher training college with my great uncle Henry ( Harry )
Stobbs from upper Weardale.
They were also both teaching at Fence Houses Council school when they signed up for duty in 1914.

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