Richard Underwood born 1914

Richard Underwood was born in Derby, England, in 1914. His parents were Percival Harry Underwood born at Nottingham in 1883, and Lavinia Minnie Underwood (nee Hart) born at Derby in 1877, who married at Derby in 1904.

His paternal grand-parents were Octavious Underwood born at Dursley, Gloucestershire, England, in 1857 and Agnes Underwood (nee Meakin) born at Chellaston, Derbyshire in 1855, who married in 1895. His maternal grand-parents were George Meakin born at Chellaston, Derbyshire, in 1828, and Hannah Meakin (nee Bates) born about 1827.

Richard Underwood married Doris Myfanwy Thomas in Singapore in 1940 and they had two children, Christopher David Underwood and Richard Anthony Underwood.

Richard Underwood was born in Derby on 16 April 1914 and was known as Dick Underwood for most of his life.

Richard served in the (Prince of Wales’s Own) West Yorkshire Regiment during the Second World War with Service Number 4535854 in Karachi (India), and then in Singapore.  He was on leave in the UK at the time of the 1939 Register, and he was a Company Quartermaster Sergeant in Singapore at the time of his wedding to Doris Thomas in 18 May 1940.

Wedding Picture
Wedding photo in Strait times (click to view enlargement in new tab)

Confusingly, the marriage certificate states that the wedding took place in St Andrews Cathederal but the local newspaper reported that the wedding took place in the Missions to Seamen Chapel.  It is possible that the Missions to Seamen Chapel was not registered for weddings, and that the ‘official‘ wedding with the registrar took place in the Cathederal, but that there was then an ‘unofficial‘ wedding and reception at the Missions to Seamen.

Wedding Newspaper Article
‘Strait Times Newspaper article (click to view enlargement in new tab)

Richard was captured by the Japanese at the fall of Singapore on 15 February 1942, kept in Changi prison for a while, and then worked on the Burma Railway for the remainder of the war.  On his release in 1945 he was less than seven stones in weight when he returned to live with his wife in Colwyn Bay, North Wales.

After the war Richard became the Mace Bearer in Colwyn Bay until 1956, then Mace Bearer in Wolverhampton for about a year until 1957 before moving to Colchester in Essex where he was Mace Bearer and Town Sergeant until his death in 1965. He died from Hodgkins Disease (now known as Hodgkins Lymphoma) and died on 1st June 1965 in Derby Royal Infirmary within two weeks of being diagnosed.

Birth of Richard Underwood:

UK Register of Births – Derby, vol 7b, page 1203, 1914.
Registration District: Derby.  Underwood Richard.
Father: Percival Harry Underwood, farm labourer of Stakerfields, Mickleover, Derbyshire.
Mother: Lavinia Minnie Underwood, formerly Hart.

Richard Underwood Birth Certificate
Richard Underwood birth certificate 1914 (click to view enlargement in new tab)

UK Birth Certificate: Registration District: Derby.  Sub-District: Derby Central. Born in the Nightingale Home, Derby, Sixteenth April 1914, Richard Underwood, boy.  Father: Percival Harry Underwood, farm labourer of Stakerfields, Mickleover, Derbyshire.  Mother: Lavinia Minnie Underwood, Formerly Hart.

Army Records of Richard Underwood:
When he joined the Army on 23 September 1933 he was listed as previously having been a ‘general labourer’, and his religion was listed as ‘Methodist’. He joined the West Yorkshire Regiment for 7 years regular service followed by 5 years in the reserves. His army number was 4535854.

Private Dick Underwood
Private Dick Underwood on joining West Yorkshire Regiment (click to view enlargement in new tab)

His attestation was, 23 Sept 1933 as Private in UK
Posted to Depot, 27 Sept 1933 as Private in UK
Posted to 2nd battalion. 24 Feb 1934 as Private in UK
Posted to 1st battalion, 19 March 1936 as Private in India
Appointed unpaid Lance Corporal in India on 3 October 1936
Appointed paid Lance Corporal, 8 January 1938 in India
Appointed paid acting Colour Sergeant in India whilst employed as Battalion Quartermaster Sergeant, 1 August 1939 in India.
Posted to 2nd Echelon Emu Force in Singapore as Colour Sergeant, and appointed local Company Quartermaster Sergeant with pay, 1 August 1938
In Singapore 8 August 1939 to 14 February 1942
Missing in Malaya, Singapore,15 February 1942
Prisoner of War in Japanese hands, 15 February 1942 to 6 October 1945
Home, 7 October 1945 as Color Sergeant
Transfered to reserves 12 December 1945
On release leave 13 Dec 1945

Service Records of Richard Undewood can be viewed here.

1939 UK Register

Wellfield Cotages, Wellfield Road, Matlock, Derbyshire
Percival Underwood, born 28 April 1883, General Labourer, Married.
Lavinia Underwood, born 02 Oct 1877, Housewife, Married.
* Alice L Beresford, born 3 Feb 1921, Cotton Winder, Married.
Richard Underwood, born 16 Apr 1914, Regular Army, Single.  453585 L/Sgt 12th Indian Infantry.
Eric Beresford, born 21 Nov 1918, Cook, Single.

* Alice was listed as ‘Alice L Underwood‘, but ‘Underwood’ was then crossed out and replaced by ‘Beresford’ although Alice and Eric were not married until the following year.

1939 Register
1939 Register, Wellfield Cottages, Matlock, Derbyshire (Click to enlarge in new tab)

Marriage of Richard Underwood

Marriage Certificate Doris Thomas
Marriage Certificate Richard Underwood and Doris Myfanwy Thomas (click to view enlargement in new tab)

Death of Richard Underwood:
UK Index of deaths, Derby, Vol 3A, page 301, quarter April-June 1965, Underwood Richard, age 51.

Death certificate Richard Underwood
Death Certificate of Richard Underwood 1965 (click to view enlargement in new tab)