b. 05/12/1912 Toxteth, Liverpool. d. 31/01/1992 Woolton, Liverpool.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 07/06/1935 Kasauli, India.
Richard Blackburn (1912-1992) was born in Toxteth Park, Liverpool on 5th December 1912, the son of George Henry and Hannah Blackburn (nee Jennion). He was one of 14 children, 7 boys and 7 girls. He attended Beaufort St Dingle School in Liverpool. In 1931, he married Louisa Catherine Moore, and they had three children, Alan, Jean and David. He enlisted into the King’s Regiment (Liverpool) in September 1932, before transferring to the Cheshire Regiment in August 1934.
He spent most of his service in India, and on 7th June 1935 in Kasauli, a forest fire broke out. He was with a party of men threatened by the flames and obliged to retire. Captain Reed, who was in charge, became separated from his men and was unable to make his way to safety. Looking back, Blackburn saw Captain Reed stumbling around in a haze, his clothing alight. He immediately returned and extinguished the burning clothes with his hands and then took the captain to a place that offered some protection from the flames. But for Blackburn's action, Reed would have died in the fire. Sadly, he died of his injuries.
Richard was initially recommended for the Albert Medal, but was awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal on 23rd June 1936, and was presented with his EGM by the Duke of York. Richard served in World War II with the Leicestershire Regiment (1941-42) and then the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (1942-46), most of his time spent in Burma. Following the creation of the George Cross in 1940, Richard was able to exchange his EGM for the new award. Due to his service overseas, Richard didn’t receive his GC until an investiture in March 1945.
Following the end of the war, Richard returned to his native Liverpool, and gained employment with the Royal Mail. He worked for the Post Office for the rest of his working life, until he retired aged 65 in October 1977. In his spare time, he was often seen at Anfield supporting his beloved Liverpool FC. Richard died on 31st January 1992 at the Marie Curie Cancer Home in Woolton, Liverpool, and was cremated at Anfield Crematorium after a funeral with full military honours. Richard’s medals including his GC, 1939-45 Star, Burma Star, Defence Medal 1939-45, War Medal 1939-45, 1953 QEII Coronation Medal, 1977 QEII Silver Jubilee Medal and the Territorial Efficiency Medal were donated by the family on loan to the Imperial War Museum. A replica set of his medals is displayed at the Cheshire Regiment Museum, Chester.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: ANFIELD CREMATORIUM, LIVERPOOL.
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
Replicas and the citation of Richard Blackburn GC held at the Cheshire Regiment Museum, Chester Castle (October 2015)