Richard Thomas Bawden

Richard was born in Chasewater, Cornwall in 1895, the only son of Richard Henry Bawden and Emily Prior. He had three sisters, Cecelia born in 18925, Lottie in 1897 and Lilian Maude in 1900. Richard left the village school at the age of 14. In the 1911 census the family are living in Penstraze, Scorrier near Redruth. Emily is head of the house as she has lost her husband. Cecelia is married to Herbert Mitchell and Maude the other sister are all living under the same roof. Richard is now an apprentice blacksmith and is working at Great Wheal Jane Mine where his father had been a tin miner.

1911 Census Richard worked there for 5 years before joining the DCLI at Truro on 5th June 1915. He enlisted in the 10th Battalion. Unusually for the pioneer force, the 10th Battalion found itself thrust into some of the fiercest fighting on the Western Front. The heroism of the Cornishmen was recognised in 1919 when the 10th Battalion were chosen to lead the first Armistice Day Parade. In a thanksgiving service in Truro Cathedral a mere 20 or so survivors from his Battalion attended – most of his comrades where lying beneath the fields of Flanders.

Despite his years of silence Richard bequeathed his family a moving and personal account of his life on the Western front. From 1915 to 1919 he kept a meticulous diary describing the dreadful realities of trench warfare at first hand and we can follow his footsteps through mutilated landscapes of Northern France to the Somme and Passchendaele and finally into vanquished Germany. The War finished for Richard in June 1919. About a year later we find Richard in Canada probably looking for work. He moved down to the United States a while later. He didn’t settle there and returned to Cornwall and got married to Susan Elizabeth Olga Lawey in 1930 at the age of 34. We catch up with him again on the 1939 Register when he is living at Threemilestone, Cornwall and working as an Acetylene Welder: not an unusual job for a blacksmith. Richard and Susan have a son William born in 1931. Richard died in 1966 at the age of 70 years and his wife Susan died in 1995 at the age of 88.