b. 30/03/1877 Southport, Lancashire. d. 04/04/1963 Southport, Lancashire.
Richard George Masters (1877-1963) was born in Southport, Lancashire on 30th March 1877. He was the son of David Brown and Margaret Alice Masters. His father was a carter by trade. Masters junior was educated at Bury Road School in Southport.
Masters was already 37 when the Great War broke out. In his home town of Southport, he was a well-known personality, with the reputation of a man who took great pride in his appearance. He worked as a chauffeur in the employment of Mr Pennington of Birkdale. He was also an expert cyclist and together with W. Birtwistle he won championships for cycling sprints. In the winter months Masters kept himself fit by running in cross-country championships, some of which he won. He also used to take regular 5 mile walks with his Cairn terriers.
Masters was married and his family lived at 102 Norwood Road, Southport. Very soon after the outbreak of the Great War, as one of five serving sons, he became a driver with the Army Service Corps which was attached to 141st Field Ambulance. On 7th March 1917, after a bombing raid on the Somme, he volunteered to go forward to an advance dressing station, which was located in a quarry. He made a total of four trips under very heavy fire in order to rescue the wounded trapped in the quarry. For this action he was awarded the French Croix de Guerre presented by Brigadier General Edwards at a ceremony which took place in the Town Hall, Southport. A public subscription was set up and a sum of £500 was invested in War Bonds and his wife and daughter presented with jewellery.
On 9th April 1918 near Bethune, France, owing to an enemy attack, communications were cut off and the wounded could not be evacuated. The road was reported impassable but Private Masters volunteered to try to get through and after great difficulty succeeded, although he had to clear the road of all sorts of debris. He made journey after journey throughout the afternoon over a road which was being shelled and swept by machine-gun fire and once he was bombed by an aeroplane. The greater number of wounded (approximately 200 men) were evacuated by him as his was the only car which got through.
He was gazetted for the VC on 8th May 1918. After being demobbed as Private Masters, he returned to being a private chauffeur. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the RASC and became Life President of the Southport Branch. He attended the VC Garden Party at Buckingham Palace on 26th June 1920, and would also attend the VC Centenary Celebrations at Hyde Park on 26th June 1956. Masters died aged 86 at 35 Palmerston Road, Southport on 4th April 1963, after a few months’ illness. His funeral was at St Cuthbert’s, Southport, where he was buried on 8th April.
His family presented his VC to the Royal Corps of Transport in June 1963 and it can be seen at the Royal Logistic Corps Museum, Camberley, Surrey. In the early 1970s the RAF Establishment at Farnborough acquired a former inshore minesweeper for research purposes and it was named after Masters at a ceremony at Gun Wharf, Portsmouth. The naming ceremony was carried out by his sister. The boat was used for thirty years before being retired.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL LOGISTIC CORPS MUSEUM, CAMBERLEY, SURREY.
BURIAL PLACE: ST CUTHBERT'S CHURCHYARD, SOUTHPORT, LANCASHIRE.
Richard Masters' medals including VC on display at the Royal Logistics Museum, Camberley, Surrey.
(Picture courtesy of Thomas Stewart).
Richard Masters VC is buried in Section II near the Cemetery Wall
Southport Garden of Remembrance
Southport War Memorial