RICHARDS Julian David Eaton

Known information

Julian David Eaton Richards of South Luffenham was one of more than at dozen vicars' sons from Rutland to be killed in the First World War. Julian was the third son of the Reverend John Francis Richards and Laura Eaton-Richards and was born on 13 May 1886. He entered Sherborne School, Dorset, with a scholarship in 1899, and in 1905 won an open classical scholarship at Wadham College, Oxford. He was a nephew of the then Sub-Warden and he was following in the footsteps of two brothers who were at Wadham before him. Julian was prominent in the Literary and Debating societies (approving of women's suffrage), played hockey and joined the Volunteers. He did well in the Indian Civil Service exam, passing tenth, but instead took up a post as a surveyor in the Post Office, serving in the south-west district of Scotland. When the war began he obtained a Commission in the Royal Engineers (Postal Section) and went to the Western Front on 11 September 1914. But being behind the lines did not suit him. He wrote in his diary on 6 November: "I cannot shake off an illogical feeling of repugnance whenever I turn my back upon the neighbourhood of the fighting, to return to the peace and serenity of rail head (my post of duty after all) or Corps headquarters. It feels too much like running away." On the 15 November he wrote briefly: '"Wrote to colonel about a transfer to the line." In the new year he joined the 2nd Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment. He described his experiences in the trenches in letters home, transcribed below. Julian fought in the Battle of Richebourg-Festubert on 9 May when the 1st Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment and 2nd Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment were in the lead. George Phillips wrote: "The ground between the armies was littered with their bodies as a result of the withering fire of German machine guns." Julian survived that encounter but died at the Battle of Loos on 25 September 1915. His Colonel wrote to his parents to say he was "killed while gallantly leading the machine gunners of whom he was in charge. He will be greatly missed by us all, both professionally and socially. He was very keen at his work, whilst his personality and sense of humour had endeared him to us all." The colonel also described Julian's "gallantry" in the operations on 9 May both during the action and in going out for the wounded. Another officer wrote: "We were all so fond of him, and admired him so much for his pluck, bravery, and many good qualities. We miss him much, and his short but brilliant service with the regiment will long be remembered by those who knew him." He was buried at Le Rutoire Farm, Vermelles but his grave was later lost. One of his sisters, probably Mary, went out to Loos sometime between 1922 and 1924 to try to find out more about his death and where he had been buried. She concluded that Julian may lie in St Mary's A.D.S. Cemetery, Haisnes, where there are a number of unidentified men from the Royal Sussex Regiment (for more information see contribution posted below) but there is no proof his grave is actually there. Julian is remembered on panel 69 of the Loos Memorial and at home on the war memorial in South Luffenham. There is also a brass memorial plaque inside the church erected by "his sorrowing colleagues and friends." Another plaque in St Mary the Virgin Church was put up by his father, and he is remembered on his parent's grave in South Luffenham cemetery. Julian's name is also on the new French memorial at Notre Dame De Lorette in Northern France. The photograph below shows Julian with his family: Julian is on the left next to his sister Katherine, then the  Reverend John Richards, his wife Laura Eaton-Richards with Mary, Francis and Kingsley. The photograph was taken in 1914 shortly before he left to serve abroad.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has Julian's name as Eaton-Richards, Eaton being his mother's maiden name.

Additional information and photographs courtesy of Mark Waik and Wadham College Archives.

Our thanks to Julian's great-nephew, John Richards, for the photographs of Julian in uniform (above) and with his family (below) as well as the letters from Julian sent from the front and from his sister while searching for his grave. They are reproduced in full below.


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  • Julian David Eaton RICHARDS
  • Richards Family
  • South Luffenham Church 2
  • S Luffenham Memorial
  • J D E Richards plaque 2
  • J D E Richards Cross
  • J D E Richards Lorette
  • Loos Memorial drone 2
  • Loos Memorial RR2
  • Panels 69 to 73
  • J D Eaton-Richards RR1
  • His parent's grave at South Luffenham
  • Inscription surrounding his parent's grave

User contributions

Julian Richards wrote several letters to his brother Francis, which fortunately have survived in the family. They are reproduced below: 19th Dec. 1914 Dear Francis This will reach you late I fear to wish you a happy Christmas and so forth, which sounds rather ironical, but wherever one is one can be as merry as on can I suppose. I was in a trench yesterday and except for one or two weaklings who'd got wind up the men were quite cheery and stolid - full of witticisms at the expense of the Kaiser (rhyming with razor). There are only three essentials for happiness, my lad (excuse my moralising) A friend or two Occupation - work Health So far I've got all three and have had a soft time in off-duty hours into the bargain.I hear from home that you've been having a rough time. One scrap of consolation I offer. All the experienced men out here, the regulars, the men who know what they are talking about, say that Territorials and Reservists are damn all, but Kitchener's men are expected to be really good. They need you. In the first few months of this war, the flower of the regular army, the British Infantry that is, have been put out of action. The second line are rotten material. You men are the ones we are all looking out for.I've applied for a commission in the Royal Sussex, said to be a really good regiment. I should have liked the Rifle Brigade, but they are so ultra smart, I hadn't the cheek to ask for them. From what I can see, the life of a Tommy in the army is not bad, in war. He gets all the comfort that's going. Except in very rare hurried moves he gets lots of grub and clothes. He marches slowly and short distances as a rule. He has plenty to do, but little responsibility. As to danger, half of it one doesn't realise and half one gets used to. At present, the men are in nearly all cases working in shifts, two or three days in trenches, do. in support, and do. resting, back in billets, in comparative luxury and ease. But of course I've only seen one phase of the war so far.It has been impossible for me to keep your letters to one, so I must trust to luck not to fail to answer everything in them that needed an answer. I couldn't in any case give you much in the way of useful tips, partly because of mere soldiering you probably know much more than I do, and partly because no two battalions, no two billets and no two weeks are at all alike. A slack regiment and a keen regiment are as poles asunder. Anyhow here's luck and early promotion to both of us. I hope you're acquiring a taste for ration rum. It's a virile drink, isn'it?Yours ever Jaggers P.S. Fear Christmas presents are off this year. I've sent each of the girls a bit of lace, but this town is not exactly a good shopping centre. 25th March 1915: Dear Francis I sit on the straw-spread floor of a little room in a farmhouse in Richebourg (Don't tell anyone). There are shell holes in the roof and through loopholes in the wall, imperfectly stuffed with straw, a beastly strong wintry blast comes in, lowering the temperature and making the candles flicker seriously. Candles because there is no glass in the windows and therefore the shutters are drawn. It is a nasty cold rainy day and the roads are awful. The fields however are very much worse. So are the trenches. The last are about 800 yds away. We went into them on Tuesday night, and last night we came out to this place where we are in support. The tenches proper accommodate 3 Coys, so we turns in this support place. We go back to the firing line tonight. We've got a young fool of a new subaltern who keeps talking and interrupting me. I've been presented by a sporting firm of manufacturing stationers with a very neat little writing case, stored with the curious stationery which I am using. This makes my 3rd writing case, Princess Mary having kindly given me one at Christmas time.I had rather a neat little dug-out this time, rebuilt, redecorated and refurnished throughout by my servant. It was called Oakdene and no hawkers or circulars were allowed. I was quite sorry to leave it. This place is dusty inside and damp without. To-night, seeing that we have had pretty steady rain these 24 hours past, I guess I shall sleep in more damp than dust.I hope you will get your stripe all right, and that soon. I still hold that I should like you to have a commission, but it's true that there is a great need for sound, trained N.C.Os. I've a very poor lot in my platoon, from the Sergeant downwards.Trenches are not altogether intolerable, in spite of what has been said of them. They are of course improving steadily. The weather gets better, and work is constantly going on, to improve them. Nowadays nearly every man has a fairish roof to sleep under, when he is not on look out. Casualties are few. I am agreeably surprised to find that I am not too much troubled by the funks as I might have expected. I haven't even been nervous yet, except when patrolling in front of our trench, and then I was much more afraid of encountering a corpse suddenly than of being shot. A certain number of men start and duck when they come under or near any sort of fire. Personally I'm rather like Tartarin sur les Alpes: Awful courageous because I'm too inexperienced to know what danger is. I'm just off to Battalion H.Q. for my tea - the last civilised meal I shall get for a day or two. You might either send this home or let the family know I've written, as I don't know when I shall get another chance to write, or post, a letter. Yours ever Jaggers 3rd June 1915 2nd R. Sussex Regt. B.E.F: Dear Francis I have treated you scandalously, so now repent. Dust is more plentiful than ashes here, for we are not allowed fires, but on the other hand the weather has been hot and dry this fortnight past. For sackcloth, there are sand-bags galore, in one of which it is my custom to envelop my head when duty obliges me to take a peep over the parapet at the Allymans, as we call them. I never saw such a trench for sandbags. There are four mines in the lines and all the earth from them has to be brought to the surface in sandbags. I've been in this trench on and off for fifteen days - four days in, four days half out, and seven days in. Things are mostly pretty quiet, speaking in terms of casualties, but we've had about six mine explosions, and any amount of shells, mortar bombs and rifle grenades, to which we reply in kind as venomously as we can. My machine guns have had very little to do. Our job after all is defence against infantry. We can't do much in the way of attack in this flat country, or against earthworks etc. Our time will come. It's wonderful how quickly the battalion has been built up again. On the 9th we lost roughly 2/3 of our strength in men and officers. We were back again at full strength within 20 days. Our only weakness is in officers. We are only six short of our proper complement, but we've got no seniors. We have no major and only two captains, of whom one is acting 2nd in command and the other does not belong to us, and is expected to go off to his regt., the Cheshires any day. In this assemblage of boys I feel less at a disadvantage than I did aforetime. I have more war experience than half of them, and that is what counts.Life out here is not at all bad, for officers or men. I could endure being in the ranks in a decent battalion. At present I think every man has got some sort of roof to sleep under, sufficient blankets and ample grub. They get a good deal of physical work at times, but not too much. They get any quantity of gift extras in the way of clothes, food and tobacco: as I know well, being at present in charge (rather nominal charge: the Sergt. Major does all the work) of the distribution of these gift. We are very strong on getting the men baths whenever possible. There are in fact only two serious disagreeables out here: one is, casualties among one's friends, and the other, shells etc. No one worries about rifle bullets: but being shelled is not pleasant.So now you are a Lance Corporal. Well, you've done more than I, for I have not yet advanced one degree in rank: partly, I like to think, because of a muddle at the War Office in connection with my transfer. I suppose your pride rather jibs at the idea of not coming out here, or not just yet. For my part I must say I think you can do pretty good work at home training new men. After all, instruction and discipline are your trade: and I expect you have a rougher and more unpleasant time (if you like to measure patriotic service like that) where you are than you would out here. If you were asked to choose between home service and foreign service I should advise you to go for the former, just because it is the more arduous and less attractive and romantic job. Now I must push off to my dinner. Do you know what I shall have for my dinner? I'll give you last night's menu and quite an average one.A glass of vermouth WhiskeyClear soup Red ordinaire Asparagus White do. Rissoles and mashed SodaCustard pudding Savoury eggs A glass of cointreau Coffee A glass of rum and milk punch Not so bad for a dug out, just 1000 yds from the German trenches? I got your letter from Oxford all right, though I was so slow to answer it.Yours ever Jaggers One of Julian's sisters, believed to be Mary, was badly affected by the loss of Julian and visited the battlefield (we believe between 1922 and 1924) to see if she could find Julian's grave. Although she was unable to find the grave itself, she believed from the evidence available to her that he was buried in the St. Mary's Advance Dressing Station Cemetery near the battlefield itself. In a period when travelling abroad was difficult, she duly reported to the rest of the family, describing the area and the cemetery in detail, in order that those unable to make the journey could picture Julian's last resting place. Visit to the Battlefield: We drove from the Hotel de Flandres et d'Angleterre at Lille in a car driven by an Englishman, Kelly. He had been in motor transport; at the battle of Loos, his lorry was one of a fleet of 450, bringing up reserves. So he told us all about things as we went. All the way it was flat country and mostly treeless, but there were some poplars. We went through la Bassee, crossing the la Bassee canal and taking the La Bassee-Lens road. All the way we passed through rebuilt villages, with very occasional old (pre-war) houses. We saw an observation post, on the roof of a ruined brewery. All the villages are industrial, chiefly collieries and around Loos especially, there are great slag heaps and pithead machinery in all directions. We did not actually go to Loos, but left the main road by the Hulluch-Vermelles turning, and presently found a cemetery on our left, known as the St. Mary's Advanced Dressing Station Cemetery 1915-1918.If you remember, the Sussex were in action near the Le Rutoire farm, and began to fall near Lone Tree, 1000 or 1500 yds. from the farm, and not far either from a little chapel known as Notre Dame de Consolation. The Lone Tree was later destroyed, so was the chapel; the cemetery is obviously named after the chapel. Near it are two smaller cemeteries. Le Rutoire farm (rebuilt) we could see, and afterwards drove up to. A labourer also pointed out to us what he believed was the position of Lone Tree, and this corresponded with Mr. Ponsonby's plan. Then we observed remains of three mounds by these cemeteries; were these the mounds A, B & C mentioned by Mr. Ponsonby? As far as I can see, there is absolutely no reason why they shouldn't be. This pleased me. I came expecting to find no trace whatsoever. But these remnants of mounds, judging by the plan, might really have been originally the three big graves, and have been subsequently destroyed by shell fire, as the War Graves Commission implied. Mr. Ponsonby left Julian buried near grave C. But I've drawn attention to St. Mary's A.D.S. Cemetery [see photo above], because it is so very possible that he was reburied there, when all the cemeteries were made to replace scattered graves. It's so very possible, because we found the graves of certain privates of the Royal Sussex, killed Sept. 25th 1915, and also of different guardsmen (Mr. Ponsonby was chaplain to the Guards). Not only did we find any number of unknown graves, but many of them were unknown Royal Sussex men. We also found unknown second lieutenants (regiments not known).We found more than expected. We found the farm, and judging by all the indications we have, may reasonably think we located to within a few hundred yards the place where he fell. And perhaps we may reasonably fancy him buried in St. Mary's cemetery, which I will now describe.The whole countryside you are to conceive of as wide stretching with a great extent of sky, no hedges and scarcely a tree. It is all arable with few roads. The cemetery is surrounded with a dry stone wall with flat stone top, the whole about three feet high. There is a great cross with sword inset, at the end where you enter. On either side of the cross are the entrances - no gates, but an opening half closed by a post. Inside the stone wall, a beech hedge is growing up, and beside that is a grass walk. The graves are sixty to a row, in groups of ten, divided by grass paths. The grouping seems to fall into three, like the nave and aisles of a church, so that your eye is naturally carried to the great altar at the middle of the far end. Where this altar stands, the ground is terraced, with stone steps and path to it , and cross path to recessed arches which end the side walls. There is a seat in each arch, and in one is a register of the cemetery. Steps and paths are already weathering beautifully. The flower beds are on either face of the very plain headstones, and there are narcissus, grape, hyacinths, white candy tuft, pansies, delphiniums, roses. The usual inscription was A Soldier of the Great War Known unto God. The name of the regiment was added between where known (and of course the actual name if known), and the crest above. The proportions of the lettering are good and the crest itself cut. The melancholy effect of these rows of plain slabs wears off as one sees the harmony of the whole, which will eventually be beautiful; I had not thought from the photos that it ever could be. But it is the layout of this cemetery which makes it more beautiful than either of the others. It's the biggest of the three, and the most probable, from the numbers of unknown men, of Sussex men, of 1915. Into others, the men were not Sussex, chiefly Irish and Scotch, and 1916 or later.The country round is marvellously recovered, all under cultivation, all trenches filled in, barbed wire removed. And the nature of it is, as I say, arable plain with clean looking colliery villages, machinery and slag heaps. So that if you think I go too far in attempts at identifying spots, at least you can justly picture the general landscape. We had with us Kingley's memorandum (from Country Life) on what the Sussex did that day. N.B. English spoken everywhere in Lille. There is a suburb Loos-les-Lille, not to be confounded with the Loos of the battle, which is about fifteen miles or more from Lille.
By Richards on Thursday 24th September '15 at 12:02pm
On the 100th anniversary of Julian's death, I thought it would be fitting to add some family background to the information already known about him. The attached photo was taken in the garden of the vicarage of St. Mary's church in South Luffenham. We believe that it was taken in 1914 before Julian departed for France. From left to right, Julian Richards, Katherine Richards, Rev. John Francis Richards, Laura Eaton-Richards, Mary Richards, Francis Richards and Kingsley Richards
By Richards on Thursday 24th September '15 at 12:07pm

Rutland and The Battle of the Somme

More than 90 Rutland soldiers died in the Battle of the Somme which lasted from 1 July 1916 until the middle of November. Today they lie in cemeteries across the old battlefield in northern France or are remembered among the 72,000 names on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. By using our interactive map, you can find out what happened to them.

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