Richard George SANDERS Update Details

Badge Number: S9546, Sub Branch: Wirrabara
S9546

SANDERS, Richard George

Service Number: 1737
Enlisted: 3 March 1916
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 50th Infantry Battalion
Born: Booleroo Centre, South Australia, Australia, 18 December 1888
Home Town: Wirrabara, Mount Remarkable, South Australia
Schooling: Booleroo Centre District School
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Natural Causes, Wirrabara, South Australia, Australia, 10 May 1953, aged 64 years
Cemetery: Wirrabara Cemetery, South
Memorials: Booleroo Centre WW1 Roll of Honour, Booleroo Centre War Memorial, Wirrabara District WW1 Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

3 Mar 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 1737
11 Apr 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1737, 50th Infantry Battalion
11 Apr 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 1737, 50th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Aeneas, Adelaide
14 Aug 1916: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, SN 1737, 50th Infantry Battalion, Mouquet Farm, GSW Arm
2 Apr 1917: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, SN 1737, 50th Infantry Battalion, German Withdrawal to Hindenburg Line and Outpost Villages, SW Neck
11 Nov 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1737, 50th Infantry Battalion

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Biography contributed by Saint Ignatius' College

Richard George Sanders was born on the 18th of December in 1888 at Booleroo Centre, in the southern Flinders Ranges region of South Australia.
 
Richard was born to his father, William Sanders and mother, Sarah Anne Sanders (nee Piggot). Richard was one of ten children. His family wasn’t rich and having to provide for 10 children was a lot.
 
Richard attended the local primary school in Booleroo. When Richard finished school, he became a farmer, just like his Father. He continued to be a farmer until he enlisted to go to the war.
 
On the 8th of March 1916, Richard enlisted for the war. Described on enlisting as 27 years 2 months; single; 4th of 10 siblings; 5’ 4 ¼” tall; brown eyes; dark hair; medium complexion, 146 pounds.
 
His Mother, Sarah Anne Sanders was recorded as his Next of Kin. Richard’s father became deaf when he was 3, after he got scarlet fever, along with his identical twin. It would have been difficult for him to communicate with war correspondents.
 
Before he embarked on his journey to World War I, his mother gave him a threepence coin. She gave it to him as a good luck charm to carry during the war.
 
He departed for his journey aboard the HMAT A60 Aeneas, from Port Adelaide and arrived in Egypt for his training. Once he had finished training, he joined the 50th Battalion and the 2nd Reinforcement. The 50th Battalion was formed in Egypt in February 1916. This Battalion was formed by splitting the 10th Battalion in half. The other half of the 50th Battalion were new recruits. Richard was a Private throughout his time at the war. A private was the lowest rank in the Army. Richard’s service record shows that the first battle he fought in was the Battle of the Somme. This battle was one of the largest battles of World War 1 and this battle was also the bloodiest battles. The battle was from July 1st to November 1st, 1916 and was located near the Somme River in France. This battle lasted 4 months and suffered 1,120,000 casualties. 60,000 of these were on the first day. This battle started with a weeklong artillery bombardment of the German line, with 1,738,000 shells fired at the Germans. During this battle, Richard got wounded twice.
 
When Richard was in France, on the Western Front, he and two of his mates went on a train trip. They had no money, but they managed to get there without getting a train ticket. However, on the way back to the Western Front the conductor demanded to see their tickets, but they didn’t have any. So, Richard pulled out his three-pence coin from his pocket, gave it to the conductor and they all ran off the train before the conductor realised that it wasn’t a French coin.
 
The second battle that he fought in was the Battle of Pozieres. The Battle of Pozieres was from the 23rd of July 1916 – 5th of August 1916 and the Australian 1st and 2nd divisions captured Pozieres, a ridge 500 metres east of the village. The attack began at 12:30 am on July 23rd, 1916. The 1st Division seized the German front line and in the next hour reached the main road in Pozières. By dawn the Germans counter-attacked but the Australians held on. The 2nd Division was ordered to take Pozières Heights. The attack begun for the 2nddivision at 12.15 am on 29 July but this time the Germans were prepared, and the attack failed and a total of 3,500 Australian casualties. The Australian commander of the 2nd Division asked his men to attack again rather than be withdrawn after failure. 

Richard was wounded twice during his time at the front. The first was on 14th August 1916 when he was wounded in the arm by a shell. He returned to his unit in January 1917. The second time he was wounded was on 2nd April 1917, when he received a shrapnel wound in the neck. This was quite serious. Richard got sent back to England with shrapnel wedged into the back of his neck. He decided that he would still help out, in the war, just not on the battlefields. Richard went to work in the Munitions Factory. The Munitions Factory is where they made the weapons and bombs that the soldiers used for fighting. Richard’s job was to cut out a perfect circle of metal for bombs. Richard was talented at this as he was a farmer and he was used to using machinery. Women were also working in the factory to put the explosive inside the bombs. 

 
During his time in the Munitions factory, he met his wife, Emma Kate Hoskin. Emma was born in Delabole, Cornwell in England. She told Richard that she would only come out to Australia with him if they were married. So, Richard went and asked his Commanding Officer for permission.
 
Richard and Emma were married in Cornwell, England. This meant that Emma would come to Australia. She had to trust that Richard was telling the truth and he did have a farm, where they would live.
 
Richard returned home to Australia, on a hospital ship, because the English doctors said that he would not survive another English winter. Emma was not allowed to go with him, so she had to get her own way to Australia. He told Emma that if she came all the way to Port Adelaide, that he would take her all the way back to England, during peacetime, to see her family. When Richard arrived back at the farm in Booleroo, South Australia, the first thing that he asked to see was his horse. However, his mother told him that they had sold his horse because they didn’t think he was ever going to return home from war. They also needed the money to feed his family, and by selling his horse, they got enough money to do so. Horses were very important back then because it was the only way to get around.
 
Richard received 2 medals for his time at the war. He received the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. These two medals were the most common medals to get. These medals were rewarded for service, not victory. The British War Medal was established by King George V in 1919 to mark the end of World War 1 and to record the service given. It was given to those who were in the Army and did the approved service overseas. The Victory Medal was authorised in 1919 to commemorate the victory of the Allied Forces over the Central Power. Each of the Allied nations was given this medal. It was given to those who served between the 5thof August 1914 and 11thof November 1918. On the back of the medal, it had the words “The great war for the civilisation”. 

Richard and his wife, Emma, had 3 children. There children’s names were Edna Jean, George Kernick and Maxwell James Sanders.
 
Richard kept his promise and he took Emma and their first two children (George and Edna) to England so she could see her family. The only way to get there was by boat. The night before they were meant to dock into England there was a lot of fog. Emma thought that she was going to die and wouldn’t get to see her family. Apparently, there was a fog horn that kept going because that was the only way to alert other boats. In the end, they made it to England, and they got to see Emma’s family.
 
Richard died on the 10th of May 1958, 35 years after enlisting to go to the war. He died of natural causes.  When Richard disembarked on his journey to the war, he was never the same as when he his left for his journey. He suffered from shell-shock and his lungs were damaged because of all the gas bombs that were thrown into the trenches. Richard is now buried in the Wirrabara Cemetery.

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