|Cpl Richard J. Harper|
Royal Flying Corps,
Died from wounds,
8th January 1918,
Buried Chocques Military Cemetery
Mr Abraham Constantine, steward at helmshore Weleyan Church and Sunday School, writes to us as follows:-
I am asked if you would put a short sketch in your paper of the work and life of the late Corporal Richard Harper, who was accidentally killed by a bomb at the front. He joined as a rigger on February 7th 1916, in the R.F.C., and afterwards he was promoted to 1st a.m., and then just before his death, to corporal.
He was a most valued worker in our Sunday School and Church at Helmshore, occupying the positions of superintendent, scoutmaster, secretary of the Band of Hope, teacher of a boys class and member of the church. Into any movement in connection with any good cause he put his heart and soul. He will be greatly missed in the church and village, and his wife has the sympathy of all who knew him.
Dear Mrs. Harper, - I have sad news to send you, news the meaning of which to you I can only guess. And yet, in spite of the sorrow it must bring is there not also in it a note of triumph for those of us who believe in the Love of God in Jesus Christ? Your husband passed away very quietly and peacefully. His last message being one of love to you. I spoke with him many times, but he was to weak to talk much himself. We laid him to rest this afternoon, and I shall not easily forget the simple and impressive service. Many of his officers and fellow men attended to do him last honour, and from the opinions they expressed of him, you may indeed be proud of the love of such a good man. Do not mourn over much, He has only gone "Home," as he himself said, after giving his life willingly and splendidly for his country and for love of you dear folk. I pray that the God of all comfort may give you His comfort, and that peace which passeth understanding.
With deepest sympathy,
(United Board Chaplain).
In the Field.
Dear Mrs. Harper, - It is with deep regret that I am writing to you to convey my deepest sympathy on the death of your husband who died of wounds caused by an accidental explosion. I can assure you that your husband was instantly attended to, and everything possible was done for him, both before and after his admittance to hospital up to the time of his death. The evening he entered hospital we all had hope of his recovery, and the news of his death came as a great shock to us all. Your husband was a rigger in my Flight, and it will be impossible to replace him as a workman, N.C.O., and all round good fellow. He had many sterling qualities, and his good influence with the junior mechanics will be sadly missed. I sympathise very deeply with you, Mrs. Harper, in your terrible loss. Your husband has given his life for his country's cause, nobly doing his duty as bravely and courageously as any soldier who has fallen in action. With deepest sympathy.
In the Field.
Dear Mrs. Harper, - It is with the deepest regret that I take this opportunity to write to you in your very sudden and terrible bereavement, but we cannot resist to send to you our very deepest sympathy, for you can never know how we ourselves miss him, for he was always the one and same "Dick" to us. I am sure that it is impossible for anybody to be more liked with the men than he was, for if anybody was in any difficulty or trouble he was always very willing to do his very best for us. I have known him ever since he joined up at Manchester, and we have always been together since, so I have been with him long enough to know him very well, and I do not think that there can be a better living man, for he always lived up to his mottoes, and all the men in his flight and the squadron all join in and send you their deepest sympathy, for it is the very most that they can do. I can assure you that his dear grave will be properly looked after, for we are buying a wreath, and as long as we are in this place his dear grave will not be forgot, for I can assure you that if we were to move to the other end of the world he himself will never be forgot, for he has made a very deep impression on everyone in the camp, for he never had a wrong word to say to anybody, he was far too cheery and pleased with all of us to forget, and we are awfully sorry to part with such a gentlemanly N.C.O. He was only with us a short while as corporal, but it was far too short. Well, all the boys that are left join in and send you their sympathy, and all are longing for the day when we can all join our dear ones at home once more, which we hope is not far off. Well, I hope that it, will be a relief to you to know that he died doing his duty, - I remain yours sincerely,
"In the bloom of life Death claimed him,
In the pride of his manhood days;
None knew him but to love him,
None mentioned his name but with praise."
"One of the best."
Signed:- H. Jackson, F. Esplin, E.D. Larkin, R.C. Bartlett, H. Tayer, C. Regan, W. Cladingbowl, Ellis V. Medlock. Thos Phillips, H. J. Froud, R. Jones, Chas. W. Smith, Wm. A. Harmana, J. Simmons, Alf Hartup, W. Chapman.
Sacred to the glorious memory of my dear Husband, Corporal Richard James Harper, R.F.C., who died from wounds, in France, January 8th 1918, and was interred at Chocques Military Cemetery, January 9th aged 33 years.
"Wherever is an empty chair, Lord, be Thou there,
And fill it, like an answered prayer,
With grace of fragrant thought, and rare,
Sweet memories of him whose place,
Thou takest for a little space!
With thought of that heroical
Great heart that sprang to duty's call,
With thought of all the best in him,
That time shall have no power to dim,
With thought of duty nobly done,
And high eternal welfare won."
630 Holcombe Road, Helmshore.