Richard Tracey

Paul Hughes

Richard was born in Broad Campden, the sixth son of William Henry and Ann Tracey and was baptised at St. James’s Church on 8 November 1885. His elder brother William died of dysentery during the Boer War and his brother Harry was killed in action in 1915.

Richard enlisted in Worcester into the Worcestershire Regiment and arrived in France with the 3rd Battalion on 25 August 1914 when he was 28 years old. The battalion was already in action at Mons and Richard joined them during the retreat. The British Army regrouped at the River Marne and an advance to the River Aisne began on 6 September 1914. The battalion crossed the Aisne on 14 September and took up positions in Vailly-sur-Aisne. They moved forward to the firing line the next day and suffered 28 casualties. An enemy attack was repulsed on 20 September but there were 80 casualties.

In October the battalion moved north and on 12 October they took part in an attack at Richebourg St. Vaast when they came under fire from houses situated along the banks of the Loise. There was a steady advance over the next few days and they bivouacked on the eastern side of the Bois de Biez near Neuve Chapelle on 16 October. The enemy attacked on 21 October and broke the battalion’s line. “A strange dim battle ensued”, records Captain Stacke in The Worcestershire Regiment in the Great War. “Parties of the enemy would loom out of the mist to be bayoneted or shot at close quarters”. The lost trenches were retaken before dark.

At the start of November the battalion moved north in buses to the Belgian village of Neuve Eglise. They then advanced via Le Romarin to positions just west of Ploegsteert and the next day took over front line positions on the eastern side of Ploegsteert Wood. Richard was killed in action on 7 November 1914 when “C” Company’s trenches were overrun during an attack by the Germans. The survivors fell back into Ploegsteert Wood and the enemy were checked on the edge of the wood after a counterattack.

Richard’s body was never recovered after the war and his name is listed on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres. He was 29 years old when he died and his name is recorded on two memorials in Campden: St. James’s Church and in the High Street.

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