Son of Mr. Joseph Booth Espley and Mrs. Christina Espley of 39, Arnett Street, Macclesfield, Cheshire and 62, Lord Street, Macclesfield Cheshire and husband of Mrs Edith Elizabeth Espley (nee Wardle) of 13, Antrobus Street, Congleton, Cheshire, 6, Lower Park Street, Congleton, Cheshire and 55 ,The Crescent, Congleton, Cheshire. He had six children, Winifred May, Annie, Edith, Frederick, Horace and Gertrude Espley. He also had two sisters Elizabeth and Sarah Jane Espley along with four brothers, Herbert, Joseph, John and Frederick Espley. In 1891, he was employed as a Silk Hand and by 1901 was a Blacksmith, and for 14 years was employed by Mr. L. Woodcock, of Congleton, and afterwards by Mr. William Pointon, Blacksmith, of Biddulph.
Richard Espley belonged to the 2 nd Battalion Cheshire Regiment, who were part of the 28th Division, 84th Brigade. He enlisted on the 29th of August 1914. The Battalion were stationed at Winchester and proceeded to France embarking at Southampton and landing at Le Havre on the 17th of January 1915. The Division concentrated on the area between Bailleul and Hazebroek. He saw action at the Second Battle of Ypres, where casualties were high. He was admitted to hospital for a fortnight as a result of being wounded in Ypres on the 21st of May 1915. He re-joined his regiment and was almost continually in the trenches up to the time he received the injuries which resulted in his death. The Battalion War Diary states that at the time Private Espley received his injuries, the Battalion was having a quiet time, and was not involved in any action, therefore one can only assume that his injuries were due to the actions of a sniper or shell fire.
Extract from the Congleton Chronicle 1915
It was on Sunday the 15th of August that his wife received the official message that her husband had succumbed to the terrible injuries to his head, his case being hopeless from the start. News has been received that Private Richard Espley of the 2 nd Battalion The Cheshire Regiment has died in hospital at Dixmude. From information to hand, it appears that the nature of his wounds was of such a serious nature that the case was considered hopeless from the start. Private Espley was wounded at Ypres on the 24th of May. He was in hospital a fortnight and then re-joined his regiment, since when he had been almost continuously in the trenches. On the 14th of August, Mrs, Espley received the following intimation from the hospital at Dixmude. I am sorry to tell you that your husband was brought into hospital this morning severely wounded in the head. He is quite unconscious and his condition is considered hopeless. Everything that possibly can is being done for him, but I fear the next information will be to say that he is gone. On the following day, the 15 th of August, Mrs. Espley received the following letter from the hospital, I am sorry to tell you that your husband has just passed away. He has not suffered, being quite unconscious and everything possible has been done for him. Private Espley was buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery in a portion specially set apart for our brave British soldiers. His resting place is marked by a small wooden cross, on which is the name and date of death. Mrs. Espley wishes to tender her grateful thanks to those who have sent kind messages of sympathy and condolence in her sad bereavement.
Cheshire County Memorial Project would like to thank John and Christopher Pullen for the research on Richard.