680983 GNR R. WALLBANK.  R.F.A.

 

Richard Wallbank was born in Longridge in September 1893 and baptised there on 8 October.  His father was Andrew Wallbank (b. 1864 in Thornley-with-Wheatley, Lancashire), a cotton weaver.  His mother was Isabella Eddleston (b. 1867 in Longridge).  Andrew and Isabella were married in 1884 and they had seven children, though they lost 3 in infancy.  The survivors were: Herbert (b. 1885), William (b. 1889), then Richard, and finally Fred (b. 1902).  In 1911, the family lived at 10 Davis Street, Longridge.  Richard was a weaver like his father.

 

Richard enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery in 1915 and was posted to “B” Battery of 286 Brigade.  He was assigned service number 680983.

 

After training, the Brigades left for France in early 1917 and were involved in the heavy fighting to defend the town of Armentières, on the French-Belgian border.  In July 1917 they suffered their first attack by the new mustard gas.  In late September the Brigade was relieved from the front line and withdrew for a period of training, and returned to the line at Langemark about 35km north of Armentières, not far from the small village of Passchendaele, which would be the scene of some of the bloodiest battles of the War.  On 9 October 286 Brigade returned to action engaging in harassing and destructive fire on enemy strongpoints, but also suffering their heaviest losses of the war so far, with many soldiers being gassed.  On 27 October, 285 and 286 Brigades were placed under temporary command of the Canadians as they began the final attack on the village of Passchendaele.  On 28 October, the War Diary reports: “Bombardment and barrage against enemy strong-points and harassing fire by 57th Divisional Artillery Group on front of the XVIII Corps. …  11th Bde RFA (the old name for 286Bde) took part in barrage and bombardment of enemy strong-points on our own front.  1 Other Rank killed in action.  5 Other Ranks wounded.”  These operations were repeated on the following day, and 5 Other Ranks were wounded in action, 11 Other Ranks were gassed and 1 Other Rank was missing (later confirmed dead).  Richard was killed on October 28.  He was 24 years old.

 

286 Brigade was to lose over 300 men before the end of the month, killed and wounded – almost half their full complement. 

 

Rank:  Gunner

Service No:  680983

Date of Death:  28/10/1917

Age:  24

Regiment/Service:  Royal Field Artillery, "B" Bty. 286th Bde.

Grave Reference:  III. E. 47.

Cemetery:  CANADA FARM CEMETERY

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