2397 and 265431 Serjeant Richard Hoar, 1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment, later Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment
Born on 26th April 1893 in Hudnall
Died on 29th July 1979 in Studham
Richard Hoar was born in Hudnall, the eighth of the ten children of Edward Hoar and Sophia née Whitman. His father farmed Hudnall Farm.
His siblings were:
- Brother: Edward Hoar, born 25th August 1879
- Sister: Nellie, born 5th October 1880
- Brother: William George, born 5th July 1882
- Brother: Frank, born 1st May 1884
- Sister: Annie, born 30th December 1886
- Sister: Lily, born 15th December 1889
- Brother: George Hoar, born 1892
- Sister: Edith, born 27th October 1894
- Sister: Mary, born 12th June 1897
Richard started in the Infant department at Little Gaddesden School on 2nd May 1898 when he was 5 years old.
The School Log Book then records that, on 1st November 1900, 7 year old Richard met with an accident:
I am sorry to say that Richard Hoar (Inft) has met with an accident: he & two other little boys obtained some gunpowder and exploded it. He is burnt very much and will not be able to come to school for some time.
There is no record of the date on which he returned to school.
In the 1901 Census, Richard, 7, and his siblings Lily, 11, George Hoar, 9 and Edith, 6, were at school. Mary, 3, was too young. Their older siblings were still living at home but were working. Edward Hoar, 21 and Frank, 16, worked for their father on the farm. Nellie, 20, and Annie, 15 were engaged in domestic work at home while 18 year old William was a Carpenter’s Apprentice.
In May 1906, Richard sat the Labour Examination in the hope of being allowed him to leave school and go to work. However, he was not successful. His leaving date has not been found, but is likely to have been in April 1907, once he was 14 years old.
The 1911 Census shows 17 year old Richard working with his father and his brothers Frank, 26 and George Hoar, 19 on Hudnall Farm. His 24 year old sister Annie was also at home, her occupation recorded: “Farmers Daughter Housework”, as was his 13 year old sister Polly (Mary), who was at school.
Military Service 5
Richard’s Silver War Badge record shows that he attested for the 1st Hertfordshire Regiment, Territorial Force on 23rd March 1914, a month before his 21st Birthday.
The Outbreak of War 6
The Hertfordshire Regiment was at Annual Camp at Ashridge at the start of August 1914. The week was planned to include parades, drills, skirmishes, night exercises, camp sports, inter-company football and boxing and a tattoo with massed bands – not to mention a visit to the Ashridge Flower Show. However, at 5am on Monday 3rd August, the order was received to strike camp. All thoughts of the tattoo, the boxing finals and the football cup match forgotten, the men of F Company returned home to await further orders. These arrived next day, instructing them to report to Company HQ at The Bury in Hemel Hempstead on 5th August.
Training for France 6
From Hemel Hempstead, F Company moved to Hertford to join the rest of the regiment before moving on to Romford and then Bury St Edmunds, where they trained for two months.
This is a copy of a postcard from Horace Ruffett (seated far right) to his brother Ernest Ruffett, dated 30th August 1914
It was given to Michael McCaul for the Little Gaddesden Archive by Ernest Ruffett’s son E H Ruffett in 1996/7.
The postcard reads:
F Com. 1st Herts
Dear E I thought you would like one of these. It is a good one. You will know them nearly all. It is very hot here today. Yours H
Arthur Whitman is seated 5th from right, armed with sandwich and mug of tea; Joe Hing (uncle of the yet-to-be-born Leonard Hing, who was to perish in the Second World War) is on the left hand side. It is possible that Richard may be in this photo; others who may also be shown are: Vernon Batchelor, Harry Cutler, William Fenn and Herbert Impey.
To France with the “Herts Guards” 6
On 5th November 1914, the 1st Hertfordshire Regiment left Bury St Edmunds by train, embarking aboard the “City of Chester” at Southampton, sailing for Le Havre at midnight and arriving in France 6th November 1914. Over the next 5 days, they proceeded via St Omer to Ypres, where the regiment saw its first action during the First Battle of Ypres. According to Vernon Batchelor from Hudnall, the Battalion spent Christmas 1914
up to our knees in mud and water… They (the Germans) were busy singing at midnight and playing some sort of whistle; of course our side was singing as well. We were only 15 yards away from the Germans in one place, and between two and three hundred yards away in others, so you see we are not very far from the enemy.
Thank you for the Christmas Parcel 6
On 30th January 1915, the Hemel Hempstead Gazette published a letter from 76 men of F Company, Hertfordshire Regiment, to thank the people of Hemel Hempstead and district for the Christmas parcel containing many good things. Among the signatories was Private R Hoar.
1915 and 1916 7
In 1915 the 1st Hertfordshire Regiment fought at Cuinchy in February, at the Battle of Festubert in May and at the Battle of Loos in September. Then, in 1916, they were engaged in the Battles of the Somme, including the Battle of the Ancre, which started on 13th November 1916.
On 15th November 1916, 2397 Serjeant Richard Hoar, 1st Herts Regiment, was admitted to No 2 General Hospital at Le Havre. He was aged 23 and had completed 24 months with the Field Force. He had suffered a gunshot wound to the left wrist, categorised as viii 2) i.e. it was a gunshot wound of the upper extremity with contusion or fracture of the long bones. On the same day, he was transferred to the Sick Convoy to return to England aboard the Hospital Ship HMHS Carisbrooke Castle.
On 31st July 1917 the men of the 1st Herts Battalion were heavily engaged on the opening day of the Third Battle of Ypres, losing over 450 men during their assault on St. Julien. Two of the 1st Herts men lost that day were Richard’s older brother Private George Hoar and his first cousin Lance Serjeant Arthur Whitman, both of whom are commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.
Continued War Service 7
During 1918, the 1st Herts Battalion fought in the German Spring Offensive, notably in the Battle of St Quentin, the actions on the Somme crossings and, in March at the Battle of Rosieres. In April they were engaged in the Battle of the Lys. Later that year, during the Hundred Days Offensive, they fought at the Battle of Albert in August and the Second Battle of Bapaume in September. That was followed by involvement in the Battles of the Hindenburg Line and the Battle of Cambrai in October. Finally, they were engaged in Battle of the Selle in October and the Battle of the Sambre in November 1918.
The Autumn 1918 Absent Voters’ list shows Richard Hoar still serving as a Serjeant in the 1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment but with a revised Service Number: 265431. However, the Spring 1919 Absent Voters’ list shows him in the 3rd Bedfordshire Battalion of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment, a Reserve battalion, based in the UK. In 1919 the Bedfordshire Regiment changed its name to incorporate the Hertfordshire Regiment and recognise the men from Hertfordshire who had served during the War. For his War Service, Richard was awarded the 1914 Star with Clasp and Roses, the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal.
Surplus to Military Requirements 5
On 8th April 1919, after 5 years’ service, 25 year old Serjeant Richard Hoar was discharged from the army under paragraph 392 (xvia) of the King’s Regulations. He had served overseas and was then “surplus to military requirements (having suffered impairment since entry into the service).” He was subsequently issued with a Silver War Badge and Certificate, No. 6/300939, dated 12th September 1919. The badge was to be worn on civilian clothing to indicate that the wearer had been honourably discharged due to wounds or sickness resulting from military service.
Men who have answered their country’s call in defence of a “Scrap of Paper”
Richard Hoar is named on the Roll of Honour, which hangs in St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden and lists 119 men from Little Gaddesden, Ringshall and Hudnall who served in the 1914 – 1918 War. The unit listed for him is the 1st Battalion Hertfordshire Regiment, in which he served throughout the War. He is similarly shown on the Centenary Revision of the Roll. Also listed on the Rolls are his brothers Edward Hoar and George Hoar R.I.P., his uncle Joseph Whitman and six of his first cousins, all grandchildren of James and Eliza Whitman. They are: Donald W Goodman, Samuel Oakins R.I.P., Stephen Oakins, Arthur Whitman R.I.P., Francis Whitman and James Whitman. Two of his brothers-in-law, Sidney Jones and Horace Ruffett are also named.
Rolls of Honour photos: Jane Dickson, Michael Carver
According to Electoral Register entries, Richard returned to Hudnall Farm after his War Service. In the 2nd Quarter of 1920, he married Nellie Eliza Allen. Their daughter Gladys Ivy was born on 7th November 1920 and their son Derek George on 29th July 1922.
Electoral Registers for 1924 and 1925 show Richard and Nellie living in Dagnall, where their daughter Jean was born on 24th October 1924.
Their son Gordon Henry was then born on 19th November 1928 and, by 1931, Richard, Nellie and their family lived at Hall End, Studham. In the 1939 Register, the address is recorded more fully as 3 Hall Farm Cottages, Studham. Richard was then a General Labourer and Handyman and also a Bedfordshire Special Constable while Nellie had “Unpaid Domestic Duties”. Gladys was a Cook and Gordon was at school. The entries for Derek and Jean are still closed.
Bedfordshire Electoral Registers show that Richard and Nellie still lived at 3 Hall Farm Cottages, Studham in 1958. However, Nellie died, aged 63, in the 1st Quarter of that year.
By 1963, Richard was living at 64 Church Road, Studham with his married daughter Jean, and he remained there until his death, aged 86, on 29th July 1979.
4. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1887 – 1906 and 1906 – 1934
6. Reynolds, Bertha & Chris (1995) “The London Gunners Come to Town”, Life and Death in Hemel Hempstead in the Great War, Codil Language Systems Ltd in association with Dacorum Heritage Trust.
16. Personal correspondence with Richard’s Granddaughter
Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson