Brickwall 1 – George Richards (? – 1981)

My biggest and most challenging brick wall is my Gt Grandfather, George Richards.

The first record I have for Pop, is his enlistment in World War 1 as George Williams, in 1918.  The story that he always told was that he went to enlist in the war, was under age and his father went and took him back home, and that he then ran away to enlist again, this time under his mother’s maiden name, and never saw his family again.  On his enlistment papers, dated 19 September 1918, he “claimed” that:

  • he was 18 years and 6 months old;
  • he was born 11 March 1900 in Essendon Victoria;
  • his parents names were John and Mary (maiden name unknown);
  • both parents were dead, “about 6 years ago”;
  • he had no legal guardian;
  • he had been working for himself since the age of twelve, working in shearing sheds in the Riverina in N.S.W;
  • his next of kin was S D Corby (a friend) – S D Corby was Sterling David Corby.

Included in his war record, is a letter he wrote in 1972 as George Richards, information in this letter confirms that this is the correct war record.

The next record that I have is his marriage certificate to Agnes Millstead in 1919 in Gilgandra.  On this, he gave his parents names as Joshua Charles Arthur Richards and Mary Jane Williams.  He gave his age as 22, which would put his date of birth around 1897 (based on the story that he told and his war record, this is incorrect).  All other records after 1919 consistently give his date of birth around 1897/1898.  If he had in fact been born in 1897/1898, there would have been no need to enlist under his mother’s maiden name, as he would have been old enough to enlist without his parents’ permission.

On his World War 2 enlistment papers, he gave his date of birth as 11 March 1898, and his place of birth as Burwood Victoria.  He always said he was born in Burwood.

The only other things he said about his family was that there were twins in the family (I don’t think he was a twin), that he had a sister, Louise (not sure if she was one of the twins?), and that his father was a farmer.

I’m not going to give up.  Pop may have been determined to hide his past, but his blood flows in me, and I am just as determined to uncover his past.

George Richards

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