Son of Mr. Richard Sumnall and Mrs. Elizabeth Sumnall, of 32, Thomas Street, Congleton, Cheshire and 17, Garden Street, Congleton, Cheshire. He had one sister, Eliza Sumnall, along with two brothers, William and Charles Sumnall. His brother, Charles, was killed in action on the 28th of July 1916, his brother in law Charles William Worrall was killed in action on the 24th October 1917. Pre-War he served as a Territorial with the 1st/7th Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment after enlisting in 1913. He transferred to the 10th Battalion in 1917.
On the 9th of April 1918, the 10th Battalion the Cheshire Regiment as part of the 25th Division were in the front line near Ploegsteert, when the German Spring Offensive was launched. They suffered badly in the heavy fighting around Hill 63 and by the 12th of April the men of the 25th Division were involved in holding a new defensive front line in front of Dranoutre and Kemmel. The following day the Cheshire's were fighting a defence on the high ground east of Bailleul, but by the 15th the high ground and the town of Bailleul were in German hands and they withdrew through Boeschepe on the 16th of April 1918. After only four days rest at Abele, the Cheshire's joined an attack with French troops. In thick fog, following a night of heavy rain, they captured the railway line but were forced to withdraw to a narrow sector along the Le Clytte to Kemmel Road. The Division was withdrawn on the 4th of May and moved back, west of Poperinge. It was during this encounter on the 18th of April, that Private Richard Sumnall was killed in action.
Extract from the Congleton Chronicle 1918.
The heavy and sanguinary fighting on the Western Front has been responsible for a number of local casualties during the past few weeks and we have had the melancholy duty of recording the passing of more brave and loyal sons of Congleton, among the number being Private Richard Sumnall of the Cheshire Regiment, son of Mr. and Mrs. R. Sumnall, of Garden Street, Congleton. A pathetic feature is that this is the second son the bereaved parents have lost in this titanic struggle for supremacy on the blood sodden fields of France and Flanders. Private Charles Sumnall having made the supreme sacrifice on the 18th of July 1916. Like his brother, Private Richard Sumnall was mobilised at the outbreak of hostilities and he and his brother in law Private Charles Worrall, now alas! numbered with the dead, went into training with the 1st/7th, Battalion the Cheshire Regiment and it might be remarked that no more zealous and patriotic soldiers could be found in the ranks. Private Sumnall had faced the hordes of the modern Attila for twelve months with the courage and doggedness which are characteristic traits of our splendid boys, when he was granted leave to visit his home in Congleton and returned to France on Easter Saturday. He was killed in action on the 18th of April 1918, when our troops after holding ground against all the enemy onslaughts, counter attacked at one point and another and definitely drove him back. For convenience it was spoken of as the Battle of Armentieres, since at this point the fighting was of, the fiercest, but the German plans were very large, for on the whole front from above Armentieres nearly to Lens he hoped to break our battle line at the first impact and then to over run the country from Bethune and the regions on the south by Aire and Hazebrouck to Carnel on the north. But our defence held him and many brave men fell to rise no more during the attack, including Private Sumnall and two days previously Private Wheeldon, of the Rocks, Congleton. In hundreds of cases in the few days prior to young Sumnall receiving his death wound, our troops fought magnificently, the strain being almost inconceivable, men dropping down in a stupor sleep. The moral of Private Sumnall was unshakable and he fought, like the true fighter he was, to the last, only living a few seconds after being hit. Letters from his comrades bear eloquent testimony to his bravery and his courage and the following letter to his sister tells of the manner of his passing.
Dear, Mrs. Worrall, 17th April 1918.
I dare say you will be a little surprised to hear from me, but I must write to inform you that your Richard was killed last Sunday afternoon. I was close by him at the time. I am sure this will be a great shock to you, I can hardly believe it myself, although I saw him killed. He did not suffer much, for he only lived for a few seconds after being hit. His companion (Harry Cooke) will forward to you his belongings. Now I will conclude with the deepest sympathy of all Richard's companions, including myself.
Cheshire County Memorial Project would like to thank John and Christopher Pullen for this information on Richard.