b. 05/12/1896 Penarth, Glamorgan, Wales. d. 20/11/1917 Marcoing, France.
Richard William Leslie Wain (1896-1917) was born in Penarth, near Cardiff, Wales on the 5th December 1896, the son of Harris and Florence. He went to school at Llandaff Cathedral School and St Bees College in Cumberland where he was a member of the Officer Training Corps. At the outbreak of war in 1914 Wain joined the 7th (Cyclist) Battalion of the Welsh Regiment, a Territorial unit. He transferred to the Public Schools Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment in December. A few months later, on the 16th July 1915 he was commissioned as an officer in the Manchester Regiment.
Like so many British soldiers, Wain’s first major experience of combat was on the 1st July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. He was a member of A Company of the 17th Manchesters. They attacked and captured the village of Montauban, taking heavy casualties. All of A Company’s officers were killed or wounded, including Wain.
After recovering he transferred to the Tank Corps in January 1917 and joined A Battalion. At Messines on the 7th June Wain commanded tank A5. During this fighting his tank destroyed three German machine gun emplacements. Despite having a crewman wounded by shrapnel from the British barrage, he successfully brought A5 back to the rallying point.
By Cambrai he was a Captain in command of Number 1 Section, 1 Company of A Battalion. As Section Commander he led his three tanks into action at 6:20am on 20th November. He rode in tank A2, named Abou-Ben-Adam II.
Shortly after 8:50am Abou-Ben-Adam was crossing a ridge near Good Old Man Farm, between Villers-Plouich and Marcoing. Wain spotted a group of British infantrymen pinned down by German machine gun fire. Whilst trying to draw German fire away from these men the tank was hit by German mortars, which killed six of the crew. Only one of them has been identified: Private 40060 John Alfred Browning.
Though bleeding profusely from his wounds, he refused the attention of stretcher bearers, rushed from behind the Tank with a Lewis gun, and captured the strong point, taking about half the garrison prisoners. Although his wounds were very serious he picked up a rifle and continued to fire at the retiring enemy until he received a fatal wound in the head. It was due to the valour displayed by Captain Wain that the infantry were able to advance.
Richard Wain was buried alongside the wreck of Abou-Ben-Adam. Unfortunately the location of his grave was lost and is now unknown. He is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial to the Missing in Louverval Military Cemetery. His medals are not publicly held.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL TANK MUSEUM, BOVINGTON, DORSET.
BURIAL PLACE: NO KNOWN GRAVE – ON CAMBRAI MEMORIAL, FRANCE. PANEL 13.
Steve Lee www.memorialstovalour.co.uk – Images of Wain VC name on the Llandaff Cathedral School Memorial and the St Bees College Memorial.