The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- Leslie Gordon
- Nick Name:
- Regimental #:
- ‘D’ Section, 4th Reserve Motor Transport Company
- Place of Birth:
- Broken Hill, New South Wales
- Father's Name:
- Henry James Riches
- Mothers's Name:
- Caroline Riches
- Church of England
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Selarang Barracks Changi; Thomson Road (Caldecot Hill Estate Camp); Selarang Barracks Changi
- ‘D’ Force Thailand, V Battalion
- Camps Thailand:
- Kinsaiyok, Brankassi, Kuii (evacuated sick), Nacompaton
- Return Details 1945:
- Singapore-Fremantle, HMT Tamaroa
Riches enlisted 28 Feb 1941 aged 45. He was born 1892, and not 1896 which he recorded on his WW2 Enlistment. He had fought in WW1 with 11th Battalion. Well past the acceptable age he was rejected with AIF, however so keen to play his part in WW2, he enlisted with 4th Motor Reserve Transport Company and was attached to 2/4th.
He had already lived a full life – he had been married more than 20 years, had one daughter, been farming, prospecting successfully and had lived in several towns including Kalgoorlie, Cue, Mt Barker, etc.
As a POW in Singapore Les went with ‘D’ Force Thailand V Battalion to work on Burma-Thai Railway under the command of Major Cough. There is no doubt Pard’s experience and maturity was an asset to Cough and V Battalion who suffered terribly.
Please read about V Battalion which endured some of the highest death rates on the railway. Pard was evacuated sick out of Kuii Camp. He was recovered from Nacompaton at the end of the war.
Major Alf Cough wrote of Les ‘So off went my right hand man. I will miss him, his high morale and rough wit which could nearly always raise a smile from the boys, he also used effectively on me the same bulldust.’
At Brankassi Cough was concerned for Riches. Please read the following diary entry.
Riches aged 21 years enlisted 1914 in Western Australia in 11th Battalion WW1. He was at Gallipoli and then France. As you can see below he was awarded the Military Cross.
Below: Riches was awarded a MIlitary Medal
Most common award. Instituted March 1916 and awarded retrospectively for gallantry and devotion to duty performed by non-commissioned officers and other ranks of the Army. In June 1916 it was extended to women of all nationalities for “bravery and devotion under fire”.
Leslie Gordon Riches MC and Mary Smith Riches (nee Berliner) 10th December 1919
Below: Les Riches playing cricket.
Below: Molly (nee Berliner’s) brother William Berliner marries in 1922 at Mt. Barker.
Above: A satellite picture of Carnage and Ora Banda.
Below: 1938 Swan River Rowing Club. What hasn’t Riches done? He plays cricket, football.
Below: Les Riches plays with Subiaco
Below: Molly’s father stages concert.
Below: About this time – Len Riches moved to Merredin.
On the Railway in Thailand, V Battalion endured some of the highest death rates on the railway. Pard was evacuated sick out of Kuii Camp. He was recovered from Nacompaton at the end of the war.
Born in Broken Hill, NSW (although alternative sources suggest he was born in Mt Barker) to Henry James Riches and Caroline Riches (nee Hart). Les was one of six children. The Riches family first moved to Kalgoorlie and later settled in Mt. Barker and farming/orchardists.
His father died 1918 aged 57 years. His mother Caroline died Mt Barker in 1943 aged 73 years.
Below: notice from Caroline Riches. Henry James had enlisted WW1 1916 – recording his age much younger than was true at 43 years and was 55 years old. He was a fitter by trade and joined the 5th Pioneers. He was returned to Fremantle a very sick man to 8th AGH hospital and died aged 57 years in 1918.
After the end of WW1 Les was residing Mt Barker, farming. In 1925 he and ‘Mollie’ had moved to Cottesloe and he was working as a labourer and playing football for Subiaco Club.
We know Les and ‘Mollie’ were residing in Merredin in about 1929. This was the beginning of their prospecting and mining ventures in the Goldfields.
After the end of WW2 and early 1950’s we find Les and ‘Mollie’ residing Delaney, Bright in Victoria. Following her marriage, their daughter Helen Dorothy had moved to live in Victoria
Les died during 1954 at Bright.
Following are several newspaper items and reports about Les Riches.
Below: in recognition of his ‘comrade’ Hay Clothier, 4th Motor Transport who died as a POW, Thailand. He is first cousin to 2/4th’s WX10739 William Ernest Clothier known as Bill who came from Mt Barker. Bill’s father, Joseph Thomas’ brother George William Clothier moved to Kellerberrin where he farmed and had a family, including son Thomas Hastings known as ‘Hay’ who died as a POW. Hay was mate to Les Riches of 2/4th.
Above: Mrs L. G. Riches as she was always referred as, had worked tirelessly for the returned POWs. There are endless newspaper articles she orchestrated on their behalf.
In about 1954, Pard Riches and Mrs Riches left WA and moved to Victoria where their married daughter Helen resided. It was announced Mrs Riches was suffering ill-health and resigning from her POW organisation in WA.
Surprising and sadly, Les Riches died in 1954 and Mrs Riches lived until the 1970s.
- Selarang Barracks Changi - Singapore
- Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
- Thomson Road (Caldecot Hill Estate Camp) - Singapore
- Brankassi, Prang Kasi, 208k - Thailand
- Kinsaiyok Main, 170.2k - Thailand
- Kuii, Kui Yae, 185.6k - Thailand
- Nacompaton, Nakom Pathom Hospital - Thailand