Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Soldier's Luck Deserted Driver

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Soldier's Luck Deserted Driver

Article excerpt


LIFE can be very strange at times.

In looking into the lives of World War I soldiers all kinds of confusing, sad, and sometimes amusing things appear. Take for example the life of Richard William Crichton, who enlisted at Liverpool in January 1916.

He was 30 years of age, had been born at Tumut in 1886, the son of John and Alice Crichton (nee Cross), was single, a shearer, a Presbyterian of Scottish ancestry, and at the time of enlistment, was a resident of Upper Pocket, Billinudgel.

Richard embarked from Sydney with the 13th Infantry Battalion two months after enlistment and soon found himself fighting in Egypt.

He apparently made a good impression on the Army because on June 1 he was promoted to Driver.

This meant an extra one shilling a day for his pocket, as well as considerable responsibilities. Shortly afterwards he was posted (as Driver) to the 10th Field Artillery Brigade and sent to France.

In September 1916 while serving at Ypres he became ill with nephritis (a kidney complaint) and found himself in an English hospital.

The doctors in England declared that he was now permanently unfit for active service and would also be unsuitable for home service for at least six months.

They recommended that he be returned to Australia. He left England in February 1917, arrived in Australia in April and was discharged as medically unfit on 14 May 1917.

His first trial in civilian life began on the date he was discharged.

The Pay Office in Sydney was apparently rather officious.

The officers there not only refused to pay him the additional one-shilling per day Driver allowance on his deferred pay but insisted he repay the Driver allowance already given to him.

They had him listed simply as Private.

It is not known whether or not Richard had had some dealings with the Australian Red Cross while overseas but it is possible he had taken advantage of the wonderful hospitality they offered soldiers on leave and the general help they gave to soldiers and their families both overseas and back home in Australia. …

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