Private William Richards’ medals archive sold at £1,400.

Medals of brave Tamworth soldier gassed in WW1 to be auctioned in his home town

MEDALS awarded to a gallant Tamworth soldier who was gassed in the First World War are coming up for auction just a few minutes’ walk from the house where he was born.

The archive of Private William J Richards of the North Staffs Regiment goes under the hammer with Richard Winterton Auctioneers in Church Street on Wednesday, January 4, as Lot 274 in that day’s Collectors Sale, starting at 9.30am.

It includes Pte Richards’ World War One Distinguished Conduct Medal, 1914-1915 trio of medals and the Princess Mary Christmas tin given to Richards whilst serving.

“This is an exceptional set of medals,” said militaria valuer Jeff Clark.

“The DCM is the oldest British award for gallantry and was a second level military decoration, only ranked below the Victoria Cross.

“The collection is estimated to sell at auction for £1,000 to £1,200.”

William Richards pictured in a family photograph from the 1930s.
William Richards pictured in a family photograph from the 1930s.

Richards was born at a house in Aldergate, Tamworth, at the end of the 19th century and the property still stands today.

The 1911 census logs him as living at 11 Ludgate and working as a printer’s errand lad.

He landed in France on March 4 1915 and went on to be awarded the DCM for bravery in the field.

The following extract appeared in the London Gazette on April 17 1918: “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during an enemy attack. He brought up stores and rations to the captured trenches, utterly regardless of personal danger.”

Initially issued with the service number 2284, and later changed to 240353, his medals are correctly impressed with the 1914-15 star showing Richards’ Army number 2284 and the war and victory medals and DCM showing his second number 240353.

Richards survived the trenches and returned from the war to live a simple life as a carpenter.

He married at St Editha’s Church and stayed in Tamworth, dying in his early 50s from lung complications – probably caused by being gassed in WW1.

Private William Richards’ medals and, inset, his Princess Mary Christmas tin.
Private William Richards’ medals and, inset, his Princess Mary Christmas tin.

His brother Francis Richards also served in the First World War but died at home in February 1917 and is buried in Tamworth.

As well as medals and militaria, Richard Winterton’s Collectors Sale on January 4 also features stamps and vintage toys.

The catalogue can be viewed online via our Auction Dates page.

Viewing in person takes place the day before the auction on Tuesday, January 3, from 10am-4pm – telephone 01827 217746.

Richard Winterton Auctioneers closes for Christmas at 5pm on Wednesday, December 21, reopening at 9am on Tuesday, January 3.

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