SPECIAL DELIVERY: Descendant of George Richards, Peter Farrell of Ballina and descendant of Frederick Richardson, Jill Barnett of Casino go through the letter that took nearly 100 years to deliver.
SPECIAL DELIVERY: Descendant of George Richards, Peter Farrell of Ballina and descendant of Frederick Richardson, Jill Barnett of Casino go through the letter that took nearly 100 years to deliver. Samantha Elley

First World War digger's letter delivered after 100 years

IT HAS taken nearly 100 years, but the letter Trooper Frederick Hastings Richardson wrote to the mother of Trooper George Henry Richards after his death, has finally been delivered.

In 1917, Frederick and George were brothers-in-arms in the 12th Light Horse Brigade.

They were to become part of one of the most famous battles of the First World War - the Battle of Beersheba - where a mounted infantry charge by the 4th and 12th Light Horse Regiments, armed only with bayonets, their only weapon for mounted attack as their rifles were slung on their backs, charged into the small Palestinian town against the Turkish defences.

This took place on October 31, 1917, but only Frederick came out of it alive.

Witnesses say 27-year-old George was killed instantly by machine gun fire in the stomach and was buried not far from where he fell.

In an attempt to send comfort to George's mother in Ballina, Frederick, from Casino, wrote her a letter.

"I take the liberty of writing these few lines to you," he wrote.

"You have my deepest sympathy in the loss of a son ... a man who commanded the respect of every one he came in contact."

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The letter was written a month after George's death, but it was never sent.

Fast forward to 2015 and Frederick's great niece Jill Barnett, of Casino, said her family discovered the letter among a relative's things.

"Frederick wrote the letter a month after the Light Horse charge in Palestine and may not have had an envelope or stamps," Ms Barnett said.

Frederick died a year after writing the letter due to disease and his belongings were sent home.

After nearly 100 years, the letter was finally delivered to one of George's descendants last week at the Express Examiner office in Casino.

Recently retired school bus driver Peter Farrell, of Ballina, is George's great-nephew and was only too delighted to accept the letter from Ms Barnett.

"I feel I have a sense of duty to accept this," he said.

"It was overwhelming to hear something from the past, but there is an element of pride that we have an ancestor that fought in such a famous battle.

"I'm gathering from the tone of the letter he fought bravely and valiantly."


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