Curtis, Richard William

The story of Richard William & Thomas George Curtis is one of the saddest stories I have researched.   They died within 3 days of each other in WW2.  Please click on the link to read Thomas George’s story.

Richard William Curtis was born circa 1916, (Flintshire (Mold) HAW/21A/1), the son of Richard E. & Catherine J. Curtis, who, I believe, married in St. Deniol’s Church, Hawarden on the 11th December 1912, at St. Deniol’s Church. Hawarden.    Richard Edward CURTIS, 21, aBachelor and Labourer, residence, Queensferry, father George CURTS a Gardener & Catherine Jane HUGHES, 21, a Spinster and General Servant, residence Queensferry, father Hugh HUGHES, Labourer. (After Banns).   Witnesses:- Henry Jeffrey Penry & Elsie Bennett.

The previous year, 1915, Richard William’s brother, Thomas George Curtis  had been born, (Flintshire (Mold) HAW/19A/79) and although I have no documents to prove, this, as the last published census was for 1911, being born so close together must have been a bond as fast as any twin.   Any information on the early years of the boys and their family would be appreciated.

St. Deniol’s Church Parish Registers – Baptisms shows us that both Richard William & his sister Kathleen were baptised as adults:-

It looks as though Richard William was baptised when he was in the Police in 1939:-

Page 167 No.  Born 9th June 1916 Bapt 30th May 1939 Richard William s/o Richard Edward & Katherine (sic) Jane CURTIS, 9, Ash Lane, Mancot, Hawarden, Police Officer.  (I have no records of his being in the Police, so any help would be appreciated.)

Page 153 No. 1375 (Conditional) Born 10th May 1914 Bapt. 27th March 1936 Kathleen d/o Richard & Catherine CURTIS, 9, Ash Lane, Mancott, General Labourer.

The 1939 Register is the first time we can see part of the family together, living at 9 Ash Lane, Mancot , Hawarden R.D., Flintshire, Wales with 10 people in the household, and as can be seen some of the records are redacted.    This Register was taken on the 29thSeptember 1939 after the  War had been declared on the 3rd September 1939.

Father Richard Curtis, had been born on the 29th April 1891 and was a Loco Driver for Midland Tar, his wife Catherine’s birth date was the 7th May 1891 and  was a Housewife doing “Unpaid Duties” as most married women were described on this Register, if they didn’t have a job.   Kathleen Curtis’s date of birth was the 10th April 1914 and she was a Female Canteen Assistant and single, although she would go on to marry in the September quarter of 1940 (Flintshire (Mold) C106/05/E86) Robert Flavell.        Mary Alice Curtis had been born on the 5th May 1917 and married Risden Hughes (Flintshire (Mold) C106/05/E193) in the December quarter of 1943, she too was single.   John James Curtis’s date of birth was the 14th July 1920 and he was single and a Bread Van Driver.   Edith Curtis had been born on the 11 Oct 1930 and was at School, she was to marry William Walker Logan McDonald in the September quarter of 1953.   Clarice G. Curtis  had been born on the 14th Jan 1933 and was at School, she was to eventually marry  Frederick Walter  Gatliffe in the December quarter of 1956 (Cheshire West CE54/5/99).   There were 3 Closed or redacted records.

The Royal Welsh Fusiliers Enlistment book tell us that Richard William Curtis, born on the 9th June 1915 had enlisted on the 15th March 1934 in the Territorial’s (5th) for 4 years.   Then on the 29th August 1934 discharged from the 207 T.A. and joined the Welsh Guards.

The Royal Welsh Fusiliers Discharge book confirms this and the date of entering the Welsh Guards was the 30th August 1934.   So it looks as though Richard was in the Regular Army as a Career Soldier and would have been the first to have been called up in the event of war.

However, in 1939 as well, I believe, that  Richard William married  Kathleen Clara Free, in a Civil Marriage ceremony in Chester.(Civil Marriage or Registrar Attended,Cheshire West ROC/92/102).

On Casualty List 1089 (Copy 94) Richard is recorded as “Previously reported wounded and Missing, 24th May 1940 (On or shortly after 24th May 1940), now Presumed Died of Wound.”   (Previously shown with Initial R.)

Another Casualty Form (9) has Richard – Wounded and Missing 24th May 1940 along with Guardsman R. White.

Richard is listed on 3 pages of a POW Listing of different Regiments as well.

Because I am also researching Richard William’s brother Thomas George and I found out that they had died within 3 days of each other, I appealed to the WW2talk Forum and they were outstanding in helping me tell the story, as best as I can as an amateur in WW2 warfare, my very grateful thanks go the all the members of that Forum.

One of the documents that was shown to me, and I have a copy, (If anyone wants any of the documents, just get in touch through the website.) of a Statement dated 16th February 1943.

Statement (67B) – On the afternoon of Thursday 24th May 1940, at Boulogne, I was proceeding to Bde HQ., 20 Gds Bde with the Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. Sir A.B.G. STAINIER Bt. DSO. MC., The HQ was then situated in a house at the top of a steep hill.    When we were about 50yds away from the HQ it received two or three direct hits by shells.    On getting there I saw 4191299 Gdsm. CURTIS, who  I knew very well, having served with him in ‘Peace time,’ being carried out of the HQ by an Officer, he appeared to be rather badly wounded.   I am practically certain that the Officer was  Capt. A.G..W.HERBER-PERCY of the Gren. Gds, then Staff Cap. 20 Gds Bde.   CURTIS was put into a Motor car and that was the last I saw of him.   (Date stamped Received 26 Feb 1943)   Signed by K. PRATT (sic) L/Cpl. HQ Sqn 2 Armd. W.G.

Also another Statement( 65A):-   (66B) 16th February 1943.

Sir,                I saw No. 4191299 Gdsn CURTIS, R.W. No. 3 Company 2nd Bn Welsh Guards, at about 0900 hours on the 23rd May 1940 during the taking up of defensive positions  by No. 3 Company at St. Martyn south f Boulogbe.   I did not see him at any time after that, when last seen he was fit and well.  

                With reference to No. 2735438 Gdsn SMALL, W., he joined No. 3 Company a few days previous to embarkation and I cannot remember having seen him at any time after embarkation.

A.H. DENEVAUR, (?), Lcpl. 

Adv. H/Q/ Squadron,

Gdo Arnd Div., Home Forces

It seems that no one knew what happened to Richard William afterwards as this document was 3 years after the event, which surely tells us that the Army never stopped looking for the bodies and the fate of these young men, which is so highly commended.   His body was either never found or he could be one of the many “Known only to God,” as his name is on the Dunkirk Memorial to “those of the British Expeditionary Force who died or were captured there and have no known grave”.

Second World War

The Welsh Guards were increased to three battalions during the Second World War. The 1st Battalion fought valiantly in all the campaigns of the North-West European Theatre. The 2nd Battalion, part of the 20th Independent Infantry Brigade (Guards), fought briefly in Boulogne, France, in late May 1940 whilst the 1st fought in the battles of Belgium and France as part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) GHQ Troops. In May 1940 at the Battle of Arras, the Welsh Guards gained their second Victoria Cross by Lieutenant Christopher Furness*, who was subsequently killed in action.  

Taken from the Citation of the CWGC.

Dunkirk was the scene of the historic evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from France in May and June 1940. Known as Operation Dynamo, it was the largest evacuation of Allied forces during the Second World War.

The sad truth of these 2 brothers is that they died within 3 days of each other and with Thomas, his story is just as sad and if not even more so.    Please click on the link to read his story.

Dunkirk was the scene of the historic evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from France in May and June 1940. Known as Operation Dynamo, it was the largest evacuation of Allied forces during the Second World War.

Dunkirk Memorial stands at the entrance to the British War Graves Section of Dunkirk Town Cemetery in France.   It commemorates those of the British Expeditionary Force who died or were captured there and have no known grave.

One cannot imagine how their parent’s felt being told of the deaths of their young sons, one after the other, within days, probably.   Although with Richard there must have been hope that he would return as there was no proof of his death.

Both boys came from a large and loving family and their names were put forward to be remembered for perpetuity.

Learn more about the other soldiers on the Hawarden Memorial

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