Richard LINDOP

Poppy

LINDOP, Richard

Service Number: 2660
Enlisted: Not yet discovered
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 4th Pioneer Battalion
Born: Barnfields, Staffordshire UK, date not yet discovered
Home Town: Howard, Fraser Coast, Queensland
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Coal Miner
Died: Killed in Action, Belgium, 22 June 1917, age not yet discovered
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Howard War Memorial, Menin Gate Memorial (Commonwealth Memorial to the Missing of the Ypres Salient), Shire of Howard Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

19 Sep 1916: Involvement Private, SN 2660, 4th Pioneer Battalion
19 Sep 1916: Embarked Private, SN 2660, 4th Pioneer Battalion, HMAT Seang Choon, Brisbane

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Biography contributed by Ian Lang

 

#2660  Richard LINDOP  4th Pioneer Battalion

 

Richard Lindop was born in Barnfields in Staffordshire, England; the son of William and Eliza Lindop. It was reported that he emigrated to Australia in 1907 at the age of 33. Richard reported for enlistment in Maryborough on 6th May 1916. He gave his age as 42 years and four months and his occupation as miner. Richard named his wife Frances Lindop of Newcastle on Tyne as his next of kin. It is unclear if Frances ever lived with Richard at Howard during the 9 years he was coal mining.

 

Richard was drafted into the 5th reinforcements for the 4th Pioneer Battalion and departed Brisbane on the :Seang Choon” on 19th September 1916. He arrived at Portsmouth on 9th December and marched in to the Australian Training Camp at Larkhill. On 25th January Richard crossed the channel to the large British training and transit camp at Etaples. In the same group of recruits was Alexander Kerr also of the 4th Pioneers; who is commemorated on the Howard memorial. Apart from both coming from Howard, Richard and Alexander were both coal miners and in spite of an age difference must have felt a certain sense of comradery, even more so when Walter Alexander; Alex’s brother was also in the camp at Etaples. All three men, now part of the 4th Battalion Pioneers marched out to join their battalion.

 

In the first half of 1917, the British Forces; which included all the Australian Divisions, were assembling in the rear areas behind the lines in the Ypres salient in Belgium. A massive offensive was planned to commence in the first week in June at Messines Ridge and the Pioneer battalions were preparing for some heavy work in consolidating trench lines and establishing communication trenches. Pioneers were a new development for the Army of 1914. Their main role was to provide labour for engineering work such as road making, trench repairs and laying light rail tracks. By necessity, the pioneers worked in the front line areas and were often exposed to enemy fire.

On the first day of the battle of Messines, 7th June 1917, Richard made a declaration that he had lodged a will with the public curator in Brisbane in which he named his son, Richard, as his sole beneficiary; and if Richard jnr predeceased him, then his estate would go to his mother. It was fairly clear that Frances Lindop was not to benefit from her husband’s death.

 

At 3:20am on the morning of 7th June 1917, 19 underground mines which had been placed under Messines Ridge were blown. It was, up to that point the greatest man made explosion in history and could be clearly heard across the channel in England. After the firing of the mines, the infantry rose up from the jumping off tapes and walked under the cover of an artillery barrage towards the summit of the ridge and beyond. Various pioneering units were sent with the advancing infantry to secure strong points in case of a counterattack as well as digging the vital communication saps which would allow reinforcements, water, food and ammunition to be carried relatively safely to those manning the new front line.

 

The 4th Pioneer Battalion was heavily engaged in the usual work of salvage, digging communication trenches, road mending and laying light rail and tramway tracks. The work was dangerous as the work parties were under fire from enemy artillery. The war diary records that at the beginning of June, the battalion had a strength of 1027 ordinary ranks. By the end of the month, that number had fallen by over 200 (either killed or wounded).

One of those killed was Richard Lindop who was reported killed by a high explosive shell on 22nd June 1917. A notation in Richard’s file noted that he was buried in a temporary grave 1200 yards North East of Messines.

 

The Flanders campaign ground on for another 5 months before floundering in the mud in front of Passchendaele. The battlefields from Messines to Passchendaele were retaken by the Germans during their spring offensive of March 1918 and the ground where Richard was buried was subjected to more artillery fire. When the war ended and teams of searchers scoured the battlefields looking for isolated graves, Richard Lindop’s final resting place remained unknown. Richard was not alone. His name was added to the 54,000 names of British and Dominion troops on the tablets of the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres who lost their lives in Flanders and have no known grave. To honour the sacrifice of these men, the town folk of Ypres conduct a commemoration under the arches of the Menin Gate each evening; with the laying of wreaths, the recitation of the ode and playing of the last post.

 

When Richard’s affairs were being finalized, it was discovered he had seventy pounds in a bank account in Maryborough. All of the items in Richard’s estate, including his personal effects, service medals and memorial plaque, and war gratuity and deferred pay were collated by the public curator in Brisbane for distribution to Richard Lindop jnr.

The final communication from Frances Lindop was to the effect that her latest address was McKeesport, Pennsylvania, USA.

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