Private Richard William HAYTON (35087)

8th Battalion, Border Regiment.

Born: 8 November 1897 in Glenridding, Westmorland

Died: 23 March 1918 in Arras, France (Age 20)

Born on the 8th November 1897, in all likelihood at 8, Halton Terrace in Glenridding, Richard William Hayton was the eldest child of John George Hayton, a Lead Miner, and his wife Mary (nee Harris) who themselves were born in the dale. By 1911, still living with his parents and younger brother George (who died in Sep 1911) and sister Hilda in Halton Terrace, the 13 year old Richard was recorded as being at School (Patterdale) but also working as a “boot-shop errand boy”. By the time war broke out he had followed his father up to the Greenside mine where he was working as a labourer.

Many of the local young men were signing up towards the end of 1915. The Derby Scheme1 to encourage recruitment was in full swing and this offered a choice, provided they attested before the 15th December; they could volunteer for immediate service and the option of staying with your 'pals' or attest and defer with an obligation to come if called up later on. Richard attested in Penrith on the 12th December 1915. He declared a preference to join the Durham Light Infantry and seems to have wanted immediate service because his service records are stamped with a 'Class B'. However, because he had only just turned 18, he couldn't be sent overseas so was placed on the reserve list and sent back home to continue working. The age age limit for overseas service was then 19 but it was reduced to 18 in May 1916. Even so, he remained on the reserve list until the 17th September 1917 when, nearly 20, he was mobilised and ordered to report to the Moor Lane Camp at Great Crosby, where he joined the home based 3rd (Reserve) Battalion of the Border Regiment for training.

On the 1st February 1918 he embarked from Folkstone and arrived, later that day, in the IV Corps Reinforcement Camp at Etaples in France. On the 10th February he was transferred to the 8th Battalion of the Border Regiment who were already on the front line south of Arras.

When the German Spring offensive began on the 21st March 1918, they launched an attack on the allied lines, codenamed Operation Michael2, from the Hindenburg Line in the vicinity of Saint-Quentin. At that time, the 8th Battalion Border Regiment were positioned just north-east of Bapaume on the Vaulx-Morchies Line. The German shelling was very intense and continuous (some 3.2 million shells are said to have landed on the British-held front during that first day) and the 8th, along with many other Battalions, were forced to retreat. Several counter attacks were attempted and it was during one of these, in the afternoon of the 23rd March, that Private Richard Hayton was killed. He had only been on the front line for 6 weeks. Sadly, because the German advance was moving so quickly, there would have been no opportunity to return his body for burial in a cemetery - he therefore became one of 35,000 servicemen who died in the Arras sector between the spring of 1916 and August 1918 who have no known grave.

As well as the official notification of his death that was sent to his mother (now living in Penrith following the death of his father in April 1916), she received a letter from a fellow soldier who had been at Richard's side when he died.

“....the battalion went to retake a position from the Germans which they had captured in the morning. We were called back by the Captain, and stood in our own trench where we fought the Germans. Richard and I were Lewis gunners and were side by side, when he was hit. I went to his assistance but he never spoke”

Richard had only served in the regular army for 6 months, although he had spent nearly 2 years on the reserve list. His medal card3 shows that he was posthumously awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.

He is remembered and commemorated on:

The Patterdale War Memorial

Glenridding Public Hall – Roll of Honour

The Arras Memorial4, France

Commonwealth War Graves Commission Memorial Certificate

What became of his family?

We think that Richard’s cousin Agnes lived in Halton Terrace until her death in 1963. Another cousin Mary Jane died in Penrith in Februay 1965 and is buried at Patterdale. We are unsure about what became of his mother Mary, or her remaining child Hilda Jane Hayton.


1. The Derby Scheme

On the 11th October 1915 Lord Derby was appointed Director-General of Recruiting. He brought forward a programme five days later, often called the Derby Scheme although its official title was the Group Scheme, for raising the numbers. Men aged 18 to 40 were sent cards informing them that they could continue to enlist voluntarily or attest with an obligation to come if called up later on. The War Office notified the public that voluntary enlistment would soon cease and that the last day of registration would be the 15th December 1915. Men who attested under the Derby Scheme, who were accepted for service and chose to defer it were classified as being in "Class A". Those who agreed to immediate service were "Class B". The Class A men were paid a day's army pay for the day they attested; were given a grey armband with a red crown as a sign that they had so volunteered; were officially transferred into Section B Army Reserve; and were sent back to their homes and jobs until they were called up. The scheme, however, was seen as a failure. Although 215,000 men enlisted while the scheme was on and another 2,185,000 attested for deferred enlistment, 38% of single men and 54% of marrieds who were not in "starred" jobs had still avoided this form of recruitment. Their reticence did much to hasten a move to full conscription. Voluntary attestation reopened on 10 January 1916, while the government considered the position. Furthermore, recruits were not necessarily posted to their local regiments and rarely had a say in the regiment to which they were assigned.

2. Operation Michael

This was a German military operation that began the Spring Offensive on the 21st March 1918. It was launched from the Hindenburg Line, in the vicinity of Saint-Quentin, France. It's goal was to break through the Allied lines and advance in a north-westerly direction to seize the Channel ports, which supplied the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and to drive the BEF into the sea. Two days later Ludendorff changed his plan and pushed for an offensive due west, along the whole of the British front north of the River Somme. This was designed to separate the French and British Armies and crush the British forces by pushing them into the sea. The offensive ended at Villers-Bretonneux, to the east of the Allied communications centre at Amiens, where the Entente managed to halt the German advance; the German armies had suffered many casualties and were unable to maintain supplies to the advancing troops. Much of the ground fought over was the wilderness left by the 1916 Battle of the Somme. The action was therefore officially named by the British Battles Nomenclature Committee as The First Battles of the Somme, 1918, whilst the French call it the Second Battle of Picardy (2ème Bataille de Picardie). The failure of the offensive marked the beginning of the end of the First World War. The arrival in France of large reinforcements from the United States replaced Entente casualties but the German Army was unable to recover from its losses before these reinforcements took the field. Operation Michael failed to achieve its objectives and the German advance was reversed during the Second Battle of the Somme, 1918 (21st August – 3rd September) in the Allied Hundred Days Offensive.

3. Medal Card for Private Richard W Hayton (35087) Border Regiment.

The Victory Medal

To qualify for the Victory medal one had to be mobilised in any service and have entered a theatre of war between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918).

The British War Medal

To qualify for the British War Medal a member of the fighting forces had to leave his native shore in any part of the British Empire while on service. It did not matter whether he/she entered a theatre of war or not.

4. The Arras Memorial, France

The Arras Memorial, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, commemorates 34,795 servicemen from the United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand who died from the spring of 1916 until the 7th August 1918, and who have no known grave. Most of the casualties commemorated here were killed during the Allied offensive during the Battles of Arras in April and May 1917 and during the German attack on the Allied Front from the 21st March 1918. More Details

Research Documents

Census Returns: 1901, 1911

Service Records: 16 Pages

Evolution of the Front Line during the German Offensive - Mar 1918

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission Memorial Certificate

C&W Herald 13 Apr 1918 - Private Richard HAYTON Obituary

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Page Editor: Norman Jackson

Page Last Reviewed: 23 Feb 2021