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Oliver Readshaw was born in Glenridding, most likely at 3, High Cottages, around August 1885 and was baptised at St Patrick's Church on the 18th October 1885. He was the fifth son of Paul Readshaw, a Lead Miner at the Greenside Mine, and his wife Ann (nee Oliver). Paul and Ann had moved to Glenridding from Weardale around 1880. Oliver would have certainly begun his education at Patterdale School but would have completed his studies at Benfieldside School in Consett, when the family moved back to County Durham sometime before 1897. On the 26th January 1901, his father Paul, who was a Shifter at the Medomsley Busty Pit, died of a heart attack whilst travelling out of the pit at the end of his shift -
Just a few weeks after war was declared, Oliver enlisted at Barnard Castle and was assigned to the 14th (Service) Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry (DLI). After training for almost 12 months in the South of England the 14th Battalion Durham Light Infantry, now part of the 64th Brigade of the 21st Division, embarked at Folkestone on the 11th September 1915. They landed in France, at Boulogne, the next morning and immediately entrained for the Saint Omer district, where most of the new divisions were prepared for services in the line. The 14th Battalion's first experience of total war took place within two weeks, when, on the 25th September 1915, they were moved up into reserve trenches on the Loos battlefield and up to the front line the next day.
The Battle of Loos lasted until the 18th October and casualties where heavy, with both sides using poison gas. The 14th Battalion casualties alone during this period were horrific with over 270 listed as killed, wounded or 'missing'. They were relieved before the end of September and we can find no evidence of any further front line action for the 14th Bn. up to the date on which Oliver is reported to have died -
“Mrs Winch, of Dixon Street, Blackfyne, has received word that Private Oliver Redshaw, of the 14th D.L.I. Has been killed in France. Private Redshaw, who was 30 years of age and unmarried, formerly worked at the Busty Pit, Medomsley. He was a well known cricketer, and acted as groundsman and “coach” for the Leadgate C.C.”
Oliver had completed just over a year with the DLI and just 6 weeks in France and Flanders before he died. His medal card shows that he was posthumously awarded the Victory Medal, British War Medal and the 1915 Star. His actual medals were donated to the DLI Museum by Mrs Janice Hobson (a family descendant?) and can be viewed in Medal Case 3 , Display Group 13 in the museum's Medal Room
He is remembered and commemorated on the Glenridding Public Hall – Roll of Honour (alongside his brother George), Leadgate War Memorial (Left Hand, Lower Plinth), Church of Saint Ives, Leadgate -
Private Oliver Readshaw
24554, 14th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry
Born August 1885 Glenridding. Died 23rd Oct 1915 Aged 30 in Belgium.
Son of Paul and Ann Readshaw (nee Oliver), of 3 High Cottages Glenridding and Durham
The Durham Light Infantry in the Trenches
Durham Light Infantry, Oliver’s elder brother
George and Oliver from the 1911 Census
A photo of the children at Patterdale School in 1889, which possibly included Oliver, and almost certainly includes his elder siblings Margaret, Whitefield, Thomas and George. We have tried to identify as many of them as possible on our Patterdale School Then and Now page.
Olivers CWGC certificate above and below the article from the Newcastle Daily Journal, dated 30th October 1915, confirming his death.
As part of the renovation to the Parish War Memorial to repair damage caused by Storm Desmond in Glenridding we agreed to dedicate a new bench by the War Memorial to the memory of Oliver, so that he is remembered in his rightful place close to his brother George. The new bench with the engraved plaque as seen above was installed in May 2017.