Arthur Richards Private 18556 - 1st Bn. Grenadier Guards Killed in action on Monday 25th September 1916 No known grave but is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial Arthur Richards was the son of Alice Richards of Gnosall Heath, and was baptised at St Lawrence on 22nd November 1891. (Alice’s mother Sarah Ann Richards was widowed and she and her children had been living with her mother Mary Barratt and unmarried brother Joseph at Norbury.) In 1901 Arthur was living as a nephew at Norbury Weston Jones with widowed Mrs Plant (aged 53, from Gnosall), her son Thomas Richards who was a 26-year-old woodman born at Norbury and grandmother Mary Barratt (aged 80 and from Gnosall). By 1911 Arthur was working in Seighford, “in charge of horses and cattle” for a farmer & railway signalman called Thomas Whale. He enlisted in Gnosall or Stafford as Guardsman 18556 in the 1 st  Battalion Grenadier Guards and went with them to France 16 March 1915. He was awarded the 1914-15 Star, Victory and British medals. Arthur was killed in action on the Somme on 25 September 1916 , probably at the Battle of Morva.  The Grenadier Guards played a key role in the Somme offensive and suffered heavy casualties. He is remembered on the Pier and Face 8 D of the Grenadier Guards memorial at Thiepval, Somme, Picardie, France. No next of kin is given, but he is also listed as a casualty in the book “The Grenadier Guards in the Great War of 1914-1918” by Lieut-Col. Sir Frederick Ponsonby, published in 1920.
Thiepval Memorial Historical Information On 1 July 1916, supported by a French attack to the south, thirteen divisions of Commonwealth forces launched an offensive on a line from north of Gommecourt to Maricourt. Despite a preliminary bombardment lasting seven days, the German defences were barely touched and the attack met unexpectedly fierce resistance. Losses were catastrophic and with only minimal advances on the southern flank, the initial attack was a failure. In the following weeks, huge resources of manpower and equipment were deployed in an attempt to exploit the modest successes of the first day. However, the German Army resisted tenaciously and repeated attacks and counter attacks meant a major battle for every village, copse and farmhouse gained. At the end of September, Thiepval was finally captured. The village had been an original objective of 1 July. Attacks north and east continued throughout October and into November in increasingly difficult weather conditions. The Battle of the Somme finally ended on 18 November with the onset of winter. In the spring of 1917, the German forces fell back to their newly prepared defences, the Hindenburg Line, and there were no further significant engagements in the Somme sector until the Germans mounted their major offensive in March 1918. The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916. The memorial also serves as an Anglo-French Battle Memorial in recognition of the joint nature of the 1916 offensive and a small cemetery containing equal numbers of Commonwealth and French graves lies at the foot of the memorial.