835526 Pte. Robert Miles Richardson was born to George Millar Richardson and Jemimah Jane Ackerland on 10th November 1876 (as recorded in the 1901 census). It should be noted that the birth date appears as 18th May 1874 in his Attestation Papers and in a later military document as 18th May 1873. Likewise, his birthplace appears as either Sheffield or Tyendenaga Townships, Ontario, in various documents.


Robert married Alice Amelia Thompson on 16th March 1898 near Napanee, Ontario. They had four children by the time he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force: Myrtle 1899; Clarence 1901; Hazel 1908 and Harrold 1915.


At the time of his enlistment, the family lived in Sydenham, Ontario, and he worked as a Section Man for the Canadian National Railway. When he signed his Attestation Paper in Sydenham on 28th January 1916, he was assigned to the 146th (Frontenac) Battalion.


On 1st February 1916 the intake process was completed, and he was in the army at a wage of $1.00 a day (likely more than he made on the railway). On 6th September 1916, Robert sailed for Europe on the SS Southland with Major C.A. Lorne as Commanding Officer with 26 officers and 581 other ranks making up the 146th Battalion. Records indicate that Robert was drafted from the 146 Battalion to the 95th Battalion and then on 3rd November 1916, to 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles.


The files tell us that Robert received a gunshot wound to his right hand in the trenches near Ecurie, France, on 20th December 1916. [This was erroneously recorded as 22nd December 1917 in S. G. Bennett's 1926 Regimental History: The 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles 1914-1918.]


The War diary provides a description of the operation in which he was wounded:


4th CMR Bn


Front Line Ecurie Sector, December 20th,


Page 1


The battalion took part in a minor operation carried out by the 8th C.I.B [Canadian Infantry Brigade] on the 20th instant.


The 1st CMR Bn being ordered to attack the enemy’s trenches over a frontage of 400 yds on our left, and the 4th CMR to attack the enemy's trenches at approximately A23.c.0.7 with a view to creating a diversion and covering the retirement of the 1st CMR. Wire cutting which had been going on for several days previously was completed in front of the 2nd CMR objective on the 18th instant but was unsuccessful in front of our objective till the morning of the 20th instant when 18 pounders, 4.5 &Stokes guns started at 8AM, made a determined effort to cut the wire till 11AM. When the 1st CMR launched their attack at 3.15 PM, the enemy retaliated heavily on our trenches with 5.9s, 4.2s, 18 pounders, and Trench mortars. Very little retaliation being directed on the 1st CMR trenches. The enemy evidently, in view of the determined wire cutting in the morning, thinking the attack was to be made by us. Our raiding party meanwhile assembled in the tunnel to the right of Sap 20.


The barrage placed around 1st CMR when they started to retire drew heavy retaliation on our trenches, especially on Sap 20, down which our raiding party had to go to their jumping off trench. The party, started at 4.15 PM, went through the enemy's barrage, but suffered several casualties, which disorganized and delayed them so that they were unable to assemble in the jumping off trench in time to go forward under the artillery barrage which was arranged for 5 PM. The three wires to the jumping off trench, which had been tested at 4.45PM were all cut so that the officer in charge of the raiding party could not ask for the postponement of barrage. As the main object of the attack had been accomplished, namely drawing the enemy's attention for the attack of the 1st CMR. The unlikelihood of our attack being successful, in view of the enemy expecting an attack at that point and our forces being disorganized. The O.C. Raiding Party decided to retire under cover of the barrage, which retirement he successfully carried out without further casualties.


At 8.30 PM several flares which broke into two red lights went up from the enemy front and they at once opened opened a heavy bombardment on our trenches, which lasted about twenty minutes.The Brigade allotted the battalion five extra leaves as a reward for their part in the day’s operations. The O.C. 1st CMR wired thanking the battalion for their assistance.


Signed WR Patterson, Major, O.C. 4th CMR Bn


The War Diary summary for December 1916 shows that on the 20th, casualties were recorded as 11 wounded, none killed. Robert was admitted to the #26 General Hospital Etaples on 22nd December 1916 and spent the next few months in various hospitals and convalescent facilities in France, England and Canada, undergoing treatment and having his condition reviewed by various medical review boards.


On 17th January 1917, there is a file notation: "Second and third fingers on right hand sashed wounds discharging and dressing. No duty." By the end of May 1917, entries show that the wound had healed. A medical board on 27th June 1917 noted that Robert had suffered a deformity of the ring finger of the right hand and that the middle finger had suffered a flesh wound but he was unable to close the fist and had very limited movement. On 6th September 1917, he was assessed as having a 35% disability and was awarded a pension of $150.00 for six months.


As he was assessed as unfit for further field duty, Robert sailed for Canada from Liverpool on the SS Megantic on 14th August 1917. In Canada, he was treated as an outpatient at the Queens Military Hospital in Kingston, Ontario. He was honourably discharged from service on 31st December 1917, as unfit for further service.


Post war, Robert was a founding member of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #496 (known as the Bob Richardson Branch) in Sydenham, Ontario, and served as its first President. The picture that accompanies this biography, above, hangs with those of all past branch presidents; his son, Harrold, also served in that capacity following his service in World War 2.


For a number of years, Robert was caretaker of the Sydenham Cemetery. He passed away, following a lengthy illness, at the age of 75, on Tuesday, 31st May 1949, and was interred in the Sydenham Cemetery.






Thanks and credit for the above biography and image go to Wayne & Karen Douglas.