The Men from Hyde – Richard George Bryant

Richard George Bryant was born in Winchester in 1889, the son of William and Mary Bryant.

William and Mary married in Southampton in 1885, but by the time of the 1891 census they are living at 3 East Cliffe in the parish of St Peter Cheesehill (now known as Chesil Street). William is 30 and works as a carpenter; Mary is 29. With them are their children Percy (3) and Richard (2). William was born in Oxted, Surrey, whilst Mary and the children were all born in Winchester.

In the following census of 1901, the family is living at 12 North Walls. Percy (13) is now a grocer’s porter. Richard is 12, and a further sibling Thomas is 7.

In the 1911 census the family is still at 12 North Walls. William has become an undertaker. Mary states that she has been married for 25 years and has had three children, all still living. Percy is 23 and working as a plumber and gas fitter. Richard is 22 and a carpenter like his father. Thomas, 17, is a wood carver.

In January 1916 Richard enlisted with the 14th (Service) Battalion Hampshire Regiment (known as the Pompey Pals) and given the regimental number 22661.

The Battalion was mobilised for war on 6th March 1916 and landed at Le Havre with the 39th Division. During that year the 14th Battalion was engaged in the fighting on the Ancre, the Battle of Thiepval Ridge, the Battle of the Ancre heights, and the Battle of the Ancre.

From 31st July – 10th November 1917 the Third Battle of Ypres or Passchendaele took place. The offensive began with encouraging gains but terrible summer weather soon bogged it down. By August the offensive was clearly failing in its objectives and had descended into attritional fighting. New techniques by both sides led to agonisingly slow forward movement for the British, at enormous cost in casualties to both sides. Bad weather in October led to the battlefield becoming an impossible quagmire.

One of the battles at Passchendaele was the Battle of Polygon Wood which lasted from 26th September-3rd October, and the 14th Battalion supported the 5th Australian Division as Polygon Wood was taken from the Germans. It was during this battle that Richard was Killed in Action on 1st October 1917. He was 28 years old. The circumstances of his death are not known.

Richard is buried at Westoutre British Cemetery, 13 Km from Ypres in West Flanders.

Richard’s older brother Percy enlisted with the Royal Berkshire Regiment in October 1916 and served in the Tank Corps of the Royal Air Force. He was wounded in France in the same month his brother died, but Percy survived.

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