Rycharde went through a short period of training before being sent out to the front line in France.
Having suffered the vile effects of poisonous gas, he has been fatally wounded.
He was shot during one of his many sorties he made out onto the firing line to help the wounded.
Sergeant Major W Dunlop of the 7th Durham Northumbrian Division wrote to Rycharde’s father…
“After a while, the counter attack started. Our troops advanced. What a sight, men falling right and left but still the advance continued until they reached our cottage. ..on several occasions your son went out and brought men in, it was on one of those that he got hit, the bullet passing through his left shoulder. I was dressing a chap with a finger blown off when it happened…he was as calm and cool as ever. He ordered a man to take everything out of his pockets, spectacles included, with the instructions “see these things are handed over to my family”.
If anyone ever died a soldier’s death, Lieutenant Haythornthwaite claims the honours of doing so.”
There are several letters from different people; soldiers who had served alongside him, those who were helped by him and the parents of soldiers who had died but received his care. Words including ‘gentle and kind’, ‘tenderly helping’ and ‘debt of gratitude’ are used conveying a message of the ultimate sacrifice made by Rycharde.
Rycharde Meade Haythorthwaite, born 4 January 1894; made 2nd Lieutenant East Kent Regiment The Buffs 15 August 1914; died in action 25 May 1915 Ypres Belgium aged 21.
His body was never found.
1915 was a montage of events representing the change in warfare that World War 1 symbolised when armed conflict took on a whole new horrific direction that led to international reform…
The Battle of Festubert 15-25 May 1915 on the Western Front when the British Expeditionary Forces suffered over 16,000 casualties was a turning point in the war. Military correspondent Colonel Repington wrote in The Times that the high number of deaths was due to shortages of artillery and other weaponry. The public’s reaction led to the downfall of Asquith’s Liberal government.
However, it was not just the serious deficiencies that brought about change, it was the first time poisonous gas had been used on a large scale and the BEF were not equipped to deal with the deadly effects…”keeps up a horrible choking feeling”.
After experimenting with different solutions, the Germans used chlorine to bombard the BEF on 22 May at Ypres.
Due to the nature of this weapon, the Geneva Protocol signed in 1925 prohibited the use of chemical and biological weapons in international armed conflicts.
Other memorable events include:
The US House of Representatives rejected a proposal to give women the right to vote
The first attack on Britain by the German Zeppelin airships
The World’s Fair opens in San Francisco
John McCrae, soldier and poet, writes ‘In Flanders Fields’
On 7 May Walter Schwieger, captain of a German U-boat torpedoed and sank the ocean liner Lusitania with the loss of 1,119 lives including 114 Americans.
Alfred Vanderbilt and playwright Carl Frohman attached life-jackets to Moses baskets in an attempt to save the babies but sadly all perished.
Within two years the Americans declared war on Germany.
Just one piece left
The final missing piece to complete my picture of Lieutenant Haythornthwaite will be found at the Menin Gate where his name is recorded alongside the thousands of other brave men and boys who gave their all.
I will always wonder why Rycharde wrote “English Essay” in each volume and if he ever managed to start his composition before he reached the final chapter of his own life.
World War 1 was meant to be the war to end all wars, but as we now know that was a pipe-dream and the human race continues to show it is incapable of living peacefully; wars will never end, only the face of war changes.
“If one of us goes under, think what a glorious end it is”
On Tapioca (a poem written by Rycharde during his school days)
(Lines inspired on tasting for the first time a plate of college tapioca and jam)
The works of poets often have I read
In vain endeavour rightly to find out
The meaning of this life; but yet I doubt
If any fan-famed poet e’er was bred
On college tapioca; or, so fed,
He must have learnt what now I am about
Sagely to expound; namely, that throughout
Our earthly lives we may be truly said
To recall a plate of tapioca:
We are the little lumps that disappear
So quickly ‘tween the yawning jaws of death
Forgotten, but digested; life’s joys are
The college jam with which one tries to stear
One’s little lump – though one often findeth
That the jam offendeth;*
And life’s hard things, what are they but the stones
In which (and this for all our pain atones)
A little kernel roams?
So reader, if a simile you need
To college puddings pay a gentle heed.
(*as doth the rhyme!)
Rycharde Meade Haythornthwaite born 4 January 1894 died 25 May 1915