Richard John Lister and Joseph William Lister

Richard John Lister and Joseph William Lister
Richard was born in 1885, Joseph in 1888, in St Ives. They were the youngest of four children born to John, a general labourer, and Susan Jane (née Carveth). The family had disparate origins. Although their father was born in St Ives, their mother was born in Cornwall and the two eldest were born in Woolwich and Scotland. Richard's father was in the Army. By 1891 he had left the Army and returned to St Ives, the family home three rooms in Johnson's Yard, St Ives.

Richard's and Joseph's mother died in 1894, when they were both aged less than 10yrs. By 1901 the family lived in Eight Bells Yard, The Waits, St Ives. Their father was an upholsterer labourer, Richard a coal man. They employed a housekeeper.

Richard John Lister
In 1906 Richard married Clara Dodson. By 1911 they had two young children, Charlie and Edith. The family lived in East Street, St Ives. A third child, Joe, was born in 1911.

Richard made a couple of appearance before the local St Ives Court in Priory Road. In April 1913 Richard and Joseph were caught gambling on a Sunday, as reported in the Hunts Post on 9 May 1913. Richard made another appearance with others a couple of months later for damaging grass in a field, as reported on 18 July 1913. Possibly another card-playing attempt?

Richard was again in Court a year later for very different circumstances. His wife, Clara, had attempted to commit suicide. She stated the reason was Richard gave her no money. Clara decided to go into the St Ives Workhouse for medical attention, rather than return home. The case was reported on 5 June 1914.

Enlisting initially with the Hunts Cyclists, Richard was transferred in December 1914 to the 8th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment. He landed in France in August 1915 and was immediately in the thick of battle. Richard fought in the Battle of the Somme, started in July 1916 and lasting for four months. One of the bloodiest battles in human history, three million men took part and one million were wounded or killed.

1916 War Diary, 8th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment
15 September 1916 War Diary, 8th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment
Friday 15 September 1916 was the start of the week-long Battle of Flers-Courcelette. This was the first time tanks were used in battle. The aim was to break through German defences. Richard's Battalion formed into three waves ready to attack from shell holes. At 6.00am British artillery started to lay down a heavy barrage. Munitions fell short, causing many British casualties. At 6.20am Richard's Battalion rose up and attacked. Depleted in numbers, they failed to capture their objective. Survivors returned to their trenches. Richard was one of the one hundred and twenty-four soldiers killed.

Richard was recorded as missing some time later, as  reported on 3 November 1916. The family would have an agonising wait, hoping against hope that a postcard would arrive confirming him as a prisoner of war. Richard was confirmed killed in action on 15 September 1916, aged 32yrs. He has no known grave and is commemorated at Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France. Richard left behind a widow and two young children.

Do you have a photo of Richard or any additional information? If so, please get in touch via the make contact page.

Joseph William Lister
In 1910 Joseph married Elizabeth Cox. Elizabeth already had a daughter, Grace. By 1911 another daughter, Elizabeth Jane, was born. Joseph worked as a rope maker with Robbs of St Ives. The family occupied two rooms in Johnson's Yard, St. Ives. A son, Joseph, was born in 1912, another daughter, Rose, in 1914.

Unlike his brother, Joseph's only court appearance was that in April 1913 when they both were caught gambling on a Sunday, as reported in the Hunts Post on 9 May 1913.

Joseph enlisted with the 4th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment. Initially providing home defence in England, the Battalion arrived in France in July 1916. They were immediately in action in the Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest in man history in which three million men fought and one million were wounded or killed.

In July 1917 the Battle of Passchendaele heralded the start of four months of brutal trench warfare. Attempting to destroy German submarine bases on the Belgium north-east coast, the offensive took place on low-lying land consisting of thick clay soil. Drainage systems had been destroyed in previous battles. The worst rainfall for thirty years meant British forces battled a quagmire of stinking mud that swallowed up men. horses and tanks as much as fighting the Germans. More than 300,000 British and Allied soldiers were killed or wounded.

1916 War Diary, 4th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment
30 October 1917 War Diary, 4th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment
At 9.30pm on 29 October 1917 under cover of darkness Joseph's Battalion marched up to the front line south-east of Poelcapelle. They prepared for a dawn attack. At 5.50am on Tuesday 30 October 1917 Richard and his comrades rose from the trenches and attacked. Their advance was held up by very heavy and boggy ground. They got no further than between 150 and 200 yards. Their casualties were 54 killed, 157 wounded and 33 missing.

Joseph was one of those killed in action, aged 28yrs, shot through the head by a sniper. He has no known grave and is commemorated at Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium. News of Joseph's death was reported in the Hunts Post on 9 November 1917. Further details were then reported on 30 November 1917. Joseph left behind a widow and four young children.

Do you have a photo of Richard or any additional information? If so, please get in touch via the make contact page.

Source materials
Click any of the links below to view original source materials.
1891 Census
1901 Census
1911 Census - Richard
1911 Census - Joseph
1916 War Diary - Richard
1917 War Diary - Joseph
Army Register of Soldiers' Effects - Richard
Army Register of Soldiers' Effects - Joseph
Medal Rolls Index Card - Richard
Medal Rolls Index Card - Joseph
Commonwealth War Graves Register - Richard
Commonwealth War Graves Register - Joseph
Commemorative Certificate - Richard
Commemorative Certificate - Joseph

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