5381 DVR. R. S. HUNT. AUS.ENG.
Richard Snalam Hunt was born in October 1889 in Much Hoole. His parents were Richard Hunt (b. 1862 in Much Hoole) and Jane Snalam (b. 1859 in Lea). His father, Richard, was a farmer and the family lived for a long time at Moss Lane, Much Hoole. Richard and Jane were married in 1885 and had 8 children of whom 7 survived infancy: Annie (b. 1886), Mary (b. 1888), then Richard, William (b. 1891, died same year), Alice (b. 1893), Nellie (b. 1894), Henry (b. 1896) and John (b. 1899). In 1911, the family was living at Provident House, Longton, where Richard Snr. was a general labourer, Richard Jnr. was a hay cutter and all his siblings were weavers.
In September 1913, Richard emigrated to Australia, taking advantage of the pre-War assisted passage scheme, sailing aboard the S. S. Commonwealth bound for Sydney. Two years later, on 23 November 1915 Richard signed up to the Australian Army in Sydney and was given the service number 5381 and initially assigned to 2nd Reinforcements, 7th Field Coy Engineers. He gives his occupation as carter and his address is Sellwood Street, Brighton-Le-Sands (a suburb of Sydney on Botany Bay). He was 5’ 8¼” tall, weighed 154lbs and had a 37” chest. On enlistment he gives his father’s address as 3 Caton Terrace, Lostock Hall. He embarked at Sydney aboard the H.M.A.T. A 35 Berrima on 17 December 1915 bound for Egypt. He was admitted to hospital in Cairo with mumps on 2 February 1916 and discharged to duty 3 weeks later. On 18 March 1916 whilst in Tel-el-Kebir (between Cairo and Port Said) he was transferred as a Driver to 14th Field Coy in the 5th Australian Division. He embarked at Alexandria on 18 June 1916 aboard the Troopship Georgia and arrived at Marseilles on 29 June.
Initially in mid-July the 5th Australian Division was deployed at Fromelles, near Armentières. This deployment was intended to ‘distract’ German forces from the Somme but it was rushed and the troops were badly prepared and the exercise was a disaster, with the Australian Imperial Force suffering more than 5,000 casualties.
The Division was withdrawn from the line and reinforced then moved in October to the Somme, where the Battle was finally drawing to a close but the troops faced very severe winter conditions.
Richard Hunt was wounded in action on 6 November 1916 and died of his wounds two days later at Casualty Clearing Station no. 36. He was 27 years old. His records contain a lengthy list of personal belongings which were returned to his mother in Lostock Hall: 2 identity discs, fountain pen, electric torch, metal cigarette case, metal wrist watch, pocket knife, metal pencil case, pocket wallets (2), pair of pince-nez, mirror, photos, letters, postcard, coin. His father received a formal letter stating the facts of his son’s death (simply the date of death and the location of his grave) dated 7 February 1917.
Service No: 5381
Date of Death: 08/11/1916
Regiment/Service: Australian Engineers, 14th Field Coy.
Grave Reference: V. D. 31.
Cemetery: HEILLY STATION CEMETERY, MÉRICOURT-L'ABBÉ