Dora Richards (nee Coombs)

Dora Coombs was born on 29 March 1889 to her parents Charles and Clara Coombs (nee Osey), who lived in Weybridge. The 1891 census shows the family at Redfern Cottages, New Road, Weybridge, with Charles and Clara being 27 years old at this time. Her parents had two further children Ernest and Herbert, who appear, aged 6 and 2, on the 1901 census with the family at 5 Redfern Cottages, New Road, Weybridge.

By 1911 her parents were still living at this address, however Dora was by this time working as a domestic servant at a house called Kings Wood, in Ashley Road, Walton-on-Thames for a lady called Julia Lawrence, whom the census shows was a 53-year-old widow.

At the time of the First World War Dora was working as a nurse and it was through this that she met and nursed Alfred Joseph Richards VC, a Sergeant in the 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers, who had lost part of his leg as a result of injuries he received going ashore at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. Sergeant Richards was invalided home and was sent to the Princess Christian Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home in Woking (Stafford Lake Road, Knaphill). It’s believed that this was where Dora nursed him in his convalescence. Due to not having other family in England, Sergeant Richards was dubbed by the press “The Lonely V.C.”

In September 1916 Dora married Alfred in Chertsey and they settled in Wandsworth and they had one child, a son called Harold, who was born on 14 October 1919.

The 1939 register shows the family, Alfred, Dora and Harold, along with Dora’s widowed mother Clara (who was born on 25 November 1864), living at 69 Astonville Street, Wandsworth. By this time Dora is shown as doing unpaid ‘Domestic Duties’ work, Alfred was a Chief Cost Clerk at a woodworking factory and Harold was employed as a motor driver for a garage.

Dora lived until 1967 and the age of 78, and was buried on 6 April that year in Wandsworth. Alfred died on 21 May 1953 and was buried in Putney Vale Cemetery in London.

Of the other family members, her father Charles died in Weybridge on 13 June 1925, but at this time it is not known when her mother Clara passed away. Her brother Ernest appears to have died in Weybridge in June 1924 and brother Herbert died in March 1980. No further information about Dora’s son Harold is known at this time.

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