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Richard Bland Ravenor

Richard Bland Ravenor, Australian Navy?

 

Geoffrey Ravenor

The Ravenor residence in Oxford St, Nebwury. Now part of The Chequers.

Richard was born on 14 August 1876, the third of eight children born to Richard Ravenor and his wife Charlotte Christian (née Bland). Richard was a succesful local businessman running a plumbing and glazing company (initially in partenership with his brother Henry) that evidently provided a very good income. The family home on Oxford Street in the Speenhamland area of Newbury was a very substantial residence, around 1935 it was purchased by Trust Houses and incorporated into the Chequers Hotel next door. He was also active in local government serving as Mayor of Newbury in 1885 and as a Borough councillor or alderman from 1878 (when Newbury's boundaries were extended to encompass Speenhamland) until his death in 1917.

 

Richard's life was supported by the relative wealth of the family, but this was evidently not enough for young Richard - he caught gold fever. In The Only Yukon-Alaska Directory for 1901 a 'street' directory for the Klondike goldrush area compiled 1899/1900 he appears in Dawson City, Yukon Territory as a miner. By spring 1901 he was back in England giving his name in the census of that year as a 'prospector'. In 1903 he is off again, sailing on the SS Orotava to Adelaide, Australia. However, Adelaide was not his final destination, he was once again bound for the gold fields, this time in Western Australia, where he appears in the 1903 electoral roll for Kalgoorie.

 

From this point he disappears, no record has been found to show what happened to him. The only indication appears on the memorial stone that once stood on his mother's grave in Speen churchyard. This states that he drowned on 20 July 1916 while serving with the Australian Navy - explaining his presence on the Newbury war memorial.

 

However, Richard is not commemorated on the Australian War Memorial or by the Commonwealth War Graves Commision; there is no record of his service in the Australian Navy and no mention of his death in the local newspaper obituaries for his brothers Herbert and Geoffrey or his father Richard - all of which appeared in the year following the date given on the grave. The last of these obituaries, that of his father, was published in March 1917 it was suggested that the deaths of Herbert and Geoffrey had hit him hard: it seems possible that Richard jun's death was not known of in Newbury at that time.

 

Frank's name on Newbury War Memorial

Richard's name on Newbury War Memorial, below those of his brothers Geoffrey and Herbert. (right)

Locally Richard is remembered on Newbury's Town War Memorial.

 

His name was also included on the gravestone over his mother's grave in Speen churchyard. Sadly the stone has been broken and only a fragment remains.

 

His brothers, Geoffrey and Herbert Ravenor are also remembered on the Newbury war memorial, and their mother's grave. Geoffrey died on the Somme serving in the 6th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment, Herbert died serving with the Australian Infantry Force in France. Another brother, Cyril, served in the marchant marine and Royal Navy while Maurice was engaged on war work to do with the development of submarines. Another brother, Stanley Arthur, remained at home in Newbury taking on the business following his father's death; following the Military Service Act of 1916 he had been classified as 'C1' (fit for garrison service at home) and was liable for call up. He appeared at a series of local tribunals staving off a call up on compassionate grounds following the death of his father. In May 1918 he was granted a final two months reprieve, his argument that his call up meant the end of the once successful business went unheeded, thousands of others were in the same situation. It is not known if he was ever called up, the need for men on home duty was not as great as those who could be sent abroad.

 

Another member of the family, Richard's cousin Private Alexander Mitchelson Ravenor, who had lived for a period in Newbury, died on 11 March 1915, while serving with the Royal Berkshire Regiment on the western front.

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 Died this day:
27 June 1917
George Cox
Yattendon

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