Sergeant Alfred Richards VC - 1st Bn, Lancashire Fusiliers


The Cenotaph in Whitehall was completed shortly after the end of the 1914-1918 War and was scheduled to be unveiled by King George V on Armistice Day 1920. However, in October of that year the Dean of Westminster suggested to Buckingham Palace that the body of an unidentified soldier be exhumed from the battlefields and reburied in Westminster Abbey. To ensure the Warrior was unknown, the military authorities on the old Western Front were instructed to exhume six unidentified 'British' soldiers. On 9th November 1920, six working parties commanded by subalterns, went to the six main battlefields - Aisne, Arras, Cambrai, Marne, Somme and Ypres - each to exhume the remains of one soldier buried in a grave marked 'Unknown'.

The six bodies were put in coffins and taken to a hut near Ypres where they were received by a clergyman. A blindfolded officer went inside the hut and at random touched the coffin of the soldier who was to be laid among kings in Westminster Abbey. The body was brought across the English Channel from Boulogne to Dover on HMS Verdun. Following a brief service the Unknown Warrior was lowered into his grave near the Great West Door on 11th November 1920, the grave refilled with earth brought from the battlefields.


( The VC Guard photographed before the ceremony in Westminster Abbey )

The order of the service in Westminster Abbey was published in 'The Times' newspaper on Tuesday, 9th November 1920.

"The Unknown Warrior will be carried to his last resting place in Westminster Abbey between two lines of men who won the Victoria Cross or who had otherwise distinguished themselves by special valour during World War I. These will include representatives of the Royal Navy, the Army, and the Royal Air Force. The bodyguard of heroes will probably be as follows:"

Rank FName LName Decorations Force


Lieutenant Harold AUTEN VC DSO Royal Naval Reserve
Captain The Hon Edward BINGHAM VC OBE Royal Navy
Captain Gordon CAMPBELL VC DSO Royal Navy
Captain Alfred CARPENTER VC Royal Navy
Lieutenant Percy DEAN VC Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve
Lt Commander Norman HOLBROOK VC Royal Navy
Chief Petty Officer Ernest PITCHER VC DSM MM Royal Navy
Seaman George SAMSON VC Royal Naval Reserve
Lieutenant Gordon STEELE VC Royal Navy
Captain Edward UNWIN VC CB CMG Royal Navy


Colour Sergeant Norman FINCH VC Royal Marine Artillery
Lt-Colonel Lewis HALLIDAY VC CB Royal Marine Light Infantry

Chief Engineman J ARNOLD DSM Royal Navy Reserve
Sergeant C J BRADOCK CGM Royal Marine Light Infantry
Chief Petty Officer T COXON CGM MM Royal Naval Division
Petty Officer E R CREMER CGM DSM MM Royal Navy
Chief ERA F M GALE CGM Royal Navy
Petty Officer W HARNER CGM Royal Navy
Chief SBS A E JONES CGM Royal Navy
Petty Officer J LEACH CGM Royal Navy
Chief Petty Officer W J V KEEBLE CGM Royal Navy
Able Seaman F E LAKE CGM Royal Navy
Able Seaman F G NOBLE CGM MM Royal Navy
Coastguard W PENNY DSM Royal Navy
Leading Seaman W G RAWLES CGM MM Royal Navy
Petty Officer W ROWBOTHAM CGM Royal Navy
Petty Officer D P SMITH CGM DSM Royal Navy
Skipper D WATSON DSC Royal Naval Reserve


The Reverend William ADDISON VC Royal Army Chaplains' Dept.
Sapper Adam ARCHIBALD VC Royal Engineers
Captain Eugene BENNETT VC MC Worcestershire Regiment
Sergeant Major Spencer BENT VC MM East Lancashire Regiment
Sergeant Oliver BROOKS VC Coldstream Guards
Lt-Colonel Daniel BURGES VC DSO Gloucestershire Regiment
Sergeant William BURMAN VC The Rifle Brigade
Corporal Alfred BURT VC Beds & Herts Regiment
Private William BUTLER VC West Yorkshire Regiment
Robert BYE VC Welsh Guards
Private John CAFFREY VC York & Lancaster Regiment
Sergeant Laurence CALVERT VC MM King's Own Yorkshire LI
Sergeant Harry CATOR VC MM East Surrey Regiment
Private George CHAFER VC East Yorkshire Regiment
Lance Corporal William COLTMAN VC DCM* MM* North Staffordshire Regiment
Coporal Sydney DAY VC Suffolk Regiment
Co Sgt Major Martin DOYLE VC MM Royal Munster Fusiliers
Driver Job DRAIN VC Royal Field Artillery
Corporal Roland ELCOCK VC MM The Royal Scots
Corporal Edward FOSTER VC East Surrey Regiment
Lt-Colonel Bernard FREYBERG VC CMG DSO Queen's Royal W Surrey Regiment
Captain Charles FOSS VC Beds & Herts Regiment
Captain Cyril FRISBY VC Coldstream Guards
Captain Robert GEE VC MC Royal Fusiliers
Lt-Colonel Harry GREENWOOD VC DSO MC King's Own Yorkshire LI
Major Alfred HERRING VC Royal Army Service Corps
Sergeant John HOGAN VC Manchester Regiment
Captain Charles HUDSON VC DSO MC The Sherwood Foresters
Shoeing-Smith Charles HULL VC 21st Lancers
Lieutenant Herbert JAMES VC Worcestershire Regiment
Major Dudley JOHNSON VC DSO* MC South Wales Borderers
Private Henry KENNY VC Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
Sgt Drummer William KENNY VC Gordon Highlanders
Captain Allan KER VC Gordon Highlanders
Piper Daniel LAIDLAW VC King's Own Scottish Borderers
Sergeant Frederick LUKE VC Royal Field Artillery
Lieutenant David MACINTYRE VC Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders
Sergeant William MCNALLY VC MM Yorkshire Regiment
Sergeant Edward MOTT VC DCM Border Regiment
Lt-Colonel Philip NEAME VC DSO Royal Engineers
Sergeant John O'NEILL VC MM Leinster Regiment
Lieutenant Alfred POLLARD VC MC* DCM Honourable Artillery Company
Lance Corporal Frederick POTTS VC Berkshire Yeomany
Private Arthur POULTER VC Duke of Wellington's Regiment
Private Arthur PROCTER VC King's Liverpool Regiment
Sergeant John READITT VC South Lancashire Regiment
Sergeant Alfred RICHARDS VC Lancashire Fusiliers
Lance Corporal Walter RITCHIE VC Seaforth Highlanders
Captain George ROUPELL VC East Surrey Regiment
Sergeant Issy SMITH VC Manchester Regiment
Private James TOWERS VC The Cameronians
Gunner Charles STONE VC MM Royal Field Artillery
Lance Corporal Henry TANDEY VC DCM MM Duke of Wellington's Regiment
Lance Corporal Arthur VICKERS VC Warwickshire Regiment
Major Arnold WATERS VC DSO MC Royal Engineers
Co Sgt Major John WILLIAMS VC DCM MM* South Wales Borderers
Lance Sergeant Harry WOOD VC MM Scots Guards
Private Wilfred WOOD VC Northumberland Fusiliers
Captain Geoffrey WOOLLEY VC MC The London Regiment


Squadron Leader Gilbert INSALL VC MC Royal Air Force
Wing Commander Lionel REES VC OBE MC AFC Royal Air Force
Flight Lieutenant Ferdinand WEST VC MC Royal Air Force

Flight Lieutenant C J Q BRAND DSO MC DFC Royal Air Force
Flight Sergeant J CARTWRIGHT DCM Royal Air Force
Flight Lieutenant C J HAZELL DSO DSC MC Royal Air Force
Sergeant-Major J C JONES DCM MM Royal Air Force
Sergeant S L LEE DSM Royal Air Force
Sergeant-Major G SCARFFE MC Royal Air Force

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Iain Stewart 31 December 2002