Richard Edwin Feather: 1882– [Heath 1895–1898]

Richard Edwin Feather was a ‘Derby man’ who was killed at Flers-Courcellette.

He lived at 147 Huddersfield Road, Halifax with his mother, Ellen, and six siblings: three brothers and three sisters. He attended Heath from September 1895 to April 1898 and was later a director of Feather Bros (Worsted spinners). In which case, he was probably the uncle of George Law and Peter Kelk Feather, who were both at Heath during the War.

Service history: he had previous experience with the 21 Yeoman Rifles. He enlisted on at Leeds aged 33, becoming No. 12291 21st Battalion Kings Royal Rifle Corps. His height was given as 5'4¼" and his weight as 153 lb. He was probably a ‘Derby Man’ as the Corps had been formed in from volunteers from the farming communities of Yorkshire, Northumberland and Durham by the Northern Command.

He was based at Duncombe Park, Helmsley, from and then at Aldershot where he came under orders of the 124th Brigade in the 41st Division. He had a spell in hospital from but went to France as part of the BEF on .

Fate: he died of wounds on . The battalion was involved in a murderous assault on which was part of a general offensive on the Somme (between the villages of Flers and Gueudencourt). This offensive involved the first operational use of tanks. 58 were killed, 266 wounded and 70 missing. They lost their battalion commander (Earl of Feversham) and three other officers. Seven other officers were wounded.

Almost certainly he was part of this and would have been one of the wounded or missing. It talks of the unit reaching their third objective but being forced back by German counterattacks to the second objective where ‘the remnants of the battalion remained until relieved.’ He is buried at Dartmoor Cemetery, Becordel-Becourt (Near Albert). A letter listing his personal effects was returned to his mother.

He was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

With thanks to David Millichope