William Henry Richards - Peters Genealogy Page

Peters Genealogy Page


William Henry Richards M.M.

William Henry Richards
1912 to 1975

Corporal William Henry Richards

"My father, who was born William Henry Gralton, was born at home in Bridge Street, Breakfast Creek on October 30 1912 and after the death of his father, William Henry Gralton - Senior in 1926, his mother, Marie Guthrie Gralton, married Pop Richards (John Alwyn Richards) in 1927. Bridge Street is now known as Nariel Street Breakfast Creek.

Nariel Street was Bridge Street

Old Map of Bridge Street, Breakfast Creek

Wh Richards VC Corner

Jean and Bill Richards Canberra.

There was a State School in Agnes Street Breakfast Creek and this is where Bill and Ron attended in their early years. This is now a Special School.

After the separation of his father (about 1919/1920), William Henry Gralton (Senior) and his mother Marie Gralton, Bill and his two brothers and sister were raised by his fathers sister Dorothy Gralton at 225 Water Street, Fortitude Valley.

Cpl. Billy Richards

Dad was 13 when his father died and 14 when Pop Richards married and came into the family in 1927. Following the death of Dad's father the children were sent to Guinewin, near Injune via Roma and later they moved to Carter Street, Northgate in 1927.

The three boys, Bill, Ron and Owen, decided to change their names by Deed Poll to that of Pop. Zena was told by Marie that it would be a waste of money changing her name as she would eventually marry.

Dad started his apprenticeship at the age of 14 as a French Polisher and Maker of Fine Furniture with Edmund (Ed.) Rosenstengel on January 21 1927. He remained with Ed. for 9½ years until June 26 1936. At this date he was 23.

W H Richards

Private W H Richards

Bakehouse Van

Bakehouse Van.


Bakehouse and House in Carter Street, Northgate.

Before the outbreak of World War 2 a Family notice was placed in The Courier Mail Saturday 16th July 1938: -

"RICHARDS- RAILTON.- The engagement Is announced of Margaret, younger Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. L. A. Railton, Sandgate Road, Nundah, to William, eldest Son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Richards, Carter Street, Northgate."

Sale Bakehouse

Sale of Bakehouse.

The next career move was to open, in conjunction with his sister Zena's husband, Walter Thomas Bradburne, a bakery next door to home at Carter Street and there was a Café / retail shop in Station Road and factory in Sandgate Road, Nundah. Wally and Dad did the baking. Together they made meat pies and sausage rolls and baked cakes and scones. One of the original employees was Ronald Hedley Kliese and Ron worked with Dad at the bakery and later on the Racetrack as a penciler until Dad died in 1975. Ron originally joined the Army (Service Number Q100534) enlisting on June 02 1941 and Discharged June 05 1944 and on June 06, 1944 joined the Royal Air Force until Discharge on Feb 06, 1946. (His Air Force service Number was 441207).



William Henry Richards receives his Military Medal from Lieutenant General Sir John Lavarack KCMG KCVO KBE CB DSO 16th Governor of Queensland.

Dad's brother Owen joined the Australian Navy on September 2 1939 (Serial number B2427) and Wally joined the Air Force 17 July 1941 and the café at Nundah was sold on 17 July 1941.

The wholesale operation was retained and Dad joined the Australian Army on December 29 1941 (Serial Number QX26271). Dad's occupation on his Attestation Form was 'Master Pastry Cook'.

Pop Richards and Marie together with a qualified baker by the name of Ron Richards (no relation) ran the Carter Street bake house while Dad and the others were away at the war.

After the war Dad returned to the bake house and one week after the 40 hour working week was brought in by Ned Hanlon's Queensland Government on 1st January 1948 the bake house closed for good.

The 40 hour week came in on 1st July 1947 in New South Wales.


2/25 Battalion Link to site

An examination of Dads War Service records reveal the following events while serving in the 2/25 Battalion.

Dad left Australia on

01.12.1942 and

Arrived New Guinea on

04.12.1942 and then

Left New Guinea on

17.01.1943 and

Arrived back in Australia

19.01.1943 for regrouping

Left Townsville

19.07.1943 and

Arrived Port Moresby on


Wounded in action


Left Port Moresby


Arrived Brisbane


After arriving in Port Moresby Dad's Unit proceeded to Nadzab in the Markham Valley on their push to Lae. On 10 September at Jensen's Plantation the 2/25 Battalion encountered serious opposition from the Japanese. The next day a force of about 200 marines held up the advance of the unit until they were given artillery support and they were then able to advance to Whittaker's Plantation. On the 13th September the unit met strong resistance from Japanese marines who were stubbornly defending their position at Heath's Plantation.

A quotation from the Dad's war records :-


During an attack by 11 pl B Coy on an enemy position at 601454 Cpl RICHARDS was severely wounded by MG fire in the stomach, back and arm.

His position was such that it was not possible to rescue him immediately and for 45 minutes, in spite of his severe wounds, and lying exposed to heavy fire, he continued to give orders to his section, which was pinned down, and acting as O.P. during efforts to silence the gun approx 50 yards away.

On several occasions he ordered men who were attempting to rescue him, to go back. For this act of extreme bravery and devotion to duty, I recommend the Immediate award of the MILITARY MEDAL.

I recommend that this award be made. Cpl RICHARDS is an outstanding NCO and his courage in this instance was a magnificent example to his men."

Dad was promoted to A/Sgt on April 4 1942 and Sgt on July 16 1942. On March 26 1943 he was reduced to Private 'at own request'. He later was promoted to Corporal.

Christmas Card from New Guinea 01

Page 2 Insert here

Letter from New Guinea

New Guinea letter from William Henry Richards to his Mother.

Pencil Drawing from New Guinea

After returning from New Guinea on February 16 1944, there is a record of an offence on April 29 1944. He was

'AWL from 2000 hrs 12.4.44 to 1100 hrs 20.4.44'

He was reduced in Rank to Private and forfeited 8 days pay. There was no question as to his whereabouts. He was with his wife to be, my Mother Jean Matthews.

Bill and Jean

Marriage Notice

RICHARDS - MATTHEWS. - At Corpus Christi Church, Nundah, on November 28th, at 6 p.m., Pte. William H. Richards, M.M., A.I.F. (ret.), eldest Son of Mr. & Mrs. J. Richards Carter St., Northgate. to Cpl. Jean Matthews, A.A.M.W.S., A.I.F. (ret.). eldest Daughter of Mr. & Mrs. T H. Matthews, Wright St, Edwardstown, South Aust., Adelaide papers, please copy.

November 28 1944 William Henry Richards married Jean Matthews who had nursed him back to health after he was wounded in action in New Guinea. Mum and Dad were married at Corpus Christi Catholic Church Nundah.


William Henry Richards Inv

As a result of his injuries and being near the end of WW2 Dad was discharged from the Army on February 15 1945 and Mum was discharged from the Army on 23 January 1945.

Dad received a letter from the office of the Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia dated September 9 1946 stating that it was impracticable for His Royal Highness, the Governor General, to personally present him with his Military Medal and that he was to forward the Medal to His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor of Queensland, with a request that he present it to him on the Governor-General's behalf. The Governor General was Lord Gowrie.

His Excellency the Governor of Queensland, Hon. Sir John Lavarack*, invited Marie and Jack Richards and Mrs. W.H. Richards to the Presentation of Decorations and Awards on Wednesday November 20, 1946 at 10.30 am at Government House, Bardon Brisbane.


Young Billy

At the ceremony Dad was presented with his Military Medal for Gallantry, which was awarded on 20 January, 1944.

Dad's Military Medal was Gazetted for the Commonwealth of Australia on 2 December 1943, page 2611, position 47 and

on 20 January 1944, page 391, position 30 for the London Gazette.


Peter Richards

September 2009

Popular Bill Richards

"Popular Bill Richards

Brisbane bookmaking's best-known family unit lost its leader when Billy Richards died in Mount Olivet Hospital on Tuesday night.
Billy fielded on southern events, and at one time or another he was assisted by his seven sons - Bill Junior, Peter, Brian, Ron and Don (twins), Patrick and Robert, all of whom held clerks' licences.
And it always was a feature of any Brisbane meeting to see Billy Richards surrounded by this group of pleasant young men on or near his stand.
Mr. Richards fielded for 27 years in Brisbane, during which he and his boys compounded a popular and affectionate following.
Bill Richards was not always a bookmaker.
During World War II he served with the 2nd 25th Battalion, and was awarded the Military Medal in Lae."

Billy Richards

Sir John Lavarack Presents Awards.html



Bag Stolen

Bookmakers Bag

A DARING thief escaped with a bookmaker's bag containing more than $4000. during the running of the last race at Doomben yesterday. But more than $4000 was found stuffed in a lavatory at the racecourse about an hour later. The thief apparently panicked when he could not fit the money in his pockets. He is believed to have taken $300 before escaping. The dumped $4000 was found by a policeman searching through the racecourse just after dark. The bookmaker Bill Richards, and his staff were listening to the running of the race at 4.35 when the bag was taken from the payout section of the stand. The theft was not discovered until after the race was completed. By this time the bag snatcher had merged in with thousands of people streaming through the gates. Bookmaker Richards on the southern events in the paddock section at Doomben. He said last night: "This is just lovely coming after I had a loosing day." The man police are searching for is described as about 30 years of age, wearing a a dark brown suit, open-necked white shirt and black shoes.

June 1966

Inside Running

Inside Running

with Keith Noud

About 16 years ago a young man in a jungle green uniform did a good job in New Guinea and eventually won a Military Medal.

Today he wears a different kind of uniform which mainly consists of a fielding bag, a large pencil and a handful of betting tickets.

He is paddock fielder Billy Richards.

One day this week there was a disturbance at the top of Edward Street. A motor car slipped its brakes and, driverless, was headed down the hill towards the heart of the city and possibly catastrophe. But there was one alert and still agile bloke about. With screams of women ringing in his ears, he jumped into the quickly moving car and pulled it up before it gathered top speed.

Ex -infantryman-cum-bookmaker Billy Richards has made another save.


Thursday 22 September Telegraph

Bill Richards betting Ticket - "Tina Louise"

A hand written betting ticket on horse "Tina Louise"

Bill Richards School 1919

Bill Richards School

C. 1919. Breakfast Creek State School.

Young Billy is front row second from the left.

Other Links

Richard Kelliher - Valour in the Markum Valley

Captain George Prout.


Sir John Lavarack



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Contact Us

Email Rich@rds Bros

W H Richards Army

Corporal William Henry Richards


Jean Matthews Video - By Peter Richards

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Jean died 1997 not 1998 and 'narated' is spelt narrated - will be fixed when video is updated.