Donald Hickling Richardson MC

Photo:Donald Hickling Richardson MC

Donald Hickling Richardson MC

Photo:Fray Bentos II

Fray Bentos II

After capture by the Germans, guns removed

Highly decorated tank commander

By Ralph Lloyd-Jones

Donald Richardson was born in Nottingham in 1893, second son of Arthur and Frances Richardson. His father had been Labour MP for Nottingham South between 1906 and 1910 and was MP for Rotherham 1916 - 18. He ran a successful Wholesale Grocery business which imported Fray Bentos corned beef from Argentina. Before the War Donald was a bank clerk but enlisted into the King's Royal Rifle Corps in 1915, was soon Commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the Sherwood Foresters, transferring the following year to the new Tank Corps. As a Captain in that unit he commanded Tank F41 which was nicknamed 'Fray Bentos' in reference to his father's grocery and perhaps as a slightly macabre reminder that fighting from inside it felt like being tinned meat! This tank became very famous at the Battle of Paschendaele in November 1917 when it came to be stuck in a large shell hole and the crew were trapped inside, surrounded by the enemy, for three days. Luckily the Germans were unable to bring any artillery to bear on Fray Bentos and Richardson and his seven surviving men (one had been killed) were able to escape and get back to British lines with their Lewis guns. For his bravery and leadership in that action Richardson received the Military Cross (and the Belgian Croix de Guerre) and the crew also won decorations. Later there was another F41 'Fray Bentos II' which had the misfortune to be captured and put on display in Berlin, so perhaps it was not a very auspicious name for a tank. Donald Richardson survived the War and lived to the age of 84, dying in 1977.

This page was added by Ralph Lloyd-Jones on 30/08/2023.

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