Ralph Walter Hargreaves was the son of Lucy Hargreaves, of Llan y Cefn, Knolton, Overton and Walter Y Hargreaves.
The 1901 census records that Ralph lived with his family at Llan y Cefn, Overton. Head of the household was Walter Y Hargreaves, a Barrister aged 44 who was originally from Bolton. His wife, Lucy was 39 and had been born in Edinburgh. The only listed child was Ralph Walter who was 9 years old. Philip D Hargreaves was a 20 year old nephew who was listed in the household on the census. There was a substantial staff of resident servants which included a nurse, cook, parlourmaid, housemaid, groom, stableman and a coachman (with a wife and child).
The 1911 census records 19 year old Ralph was living at 24 Rosendale Road Dulwich, London, where he was described as an Accounts Clerk working for a Chartered Accountant. There was one other resident in the house. He was 17 year old Colin Moncrieff Penney, an Import Clerk working for a tea and rubber importer.
There is a short biography of Ralph Walter Hargreaves in De Ruvigney’s Roll of Honour (Volume 4), published after the war. This tells us that he was a Lieutenant in The Welsh Guards and he was the second son of the late Walter Y Hargreaves, Barrister at Law and his wife Lucy of Llan Cefn, Ellesmere, Salop. He had been born there on the 4th January 1892. He had been educated at Heswall and Shrewsbury. He was a Tea Planter. He had joined the Ceylon Rifles in August 1914 and served with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force at Gallipoli, proceeded to Egypt after the evacuation of the Peninsula and in January 1916 was gazetted to 2nd Lieutenant, being promoted to Lieutenant in June 1917. He proceeded to France in August and was killed in action at Cambrai on the 1st December 1917. His Commanding Officer wrote …
“He was to me a most capable, efficient soldier who loved his work and did it well, to all of us a dear friend who will be missed and never forgotten”
The entry ends with ‘Unm’ meaning he was unmarried.
There is an index card for Ralph Walter Hargreaves in the Flintshire Roll of Honour in the County Record Office in Hawarden.Flintshire. (Card Overton F 9) , It gives the address Llan y Afon. It says that he was Acting Captain in The Welsh Guards. (This rank does not appear anywhere else). He served from 1914 to 1917. It tells us that he Served in the Ceylon Planter’s Rifle Corps, in Gallipoli from April 1915 to evacuation. He joined the Guards in January 1916. He was wounded in November 1916. He was killed leading his men as acting Captain. At Cambriai in December 1917. The card was written and signed by L Hargreaves (his mother) on the 23rd November 1919.
The Ceylon Planters Rifle Corps, according to Charles Bean’s ‘The story of Anzac’,
“The Ceylon Planters Rifle Corps composed of 150 fine young Englishmen who had left Colombo about the time when the 1st Division called at that port, was also attached to the A&NZ Army corps as Corps Troops.”
They embarked in October on the SS Worcestershire, heading under convoy for Bombay, and thence together with 48 troop ships to arrive at Port Said in early November. In April they embarked for Gallipoli as Corps Troops to General Birdwood, eventually landing on Z beach on 25.04.1915. They were often called Birdwood’s private army. He took a personal interest in this unit and the following is a quote from Birdwoods Autobiography, Khaki & Brown, Ward Lock &co 1941
“I formed them into a personal escort and camp guard, relieving all other units of these necessary duties. I may add that when we first landed at ANZAC, with the whole country covered with thick, high bushes in which many Turkish snipers were concealed, my little escort proved itself invaluable at scouting through the scrub. Later on, when there was another urgent call for officers at home, I got commissions for all of them.”