In Memoriam: Richard W. Blake
Memorial Street Signs
In observance of every Memorial Day, Hampton Veterans of Foreign Wars gave the supreme sacrifice in defense of their country, in WORLD WAR II, KOREA and VIETNAM and streets, bridges, parks & playgrounds in Hampton, were named in their honor.
In Memory of Richard W. Blake -- World War II
[Photo courtesy John Hirtle, Atlantic News]
Hampton Academy Jr. High School on May 29, 1998,
produced and directed by Sheila Nudd, Music Director.]
11. RICHARD W. BLAKE, offered by Sarah Karpman:
Richard Warren Blake, was born on September 3, 1924 and was killed in action on February 20, 1945.
Richard Blake was not just another face in the crowd. At six-foot-three, not many people are. Richard was an outstanding athlete who loved to ski and play basketball. He was also a member of the All-State basketball team. He had everything he needed including a four year scholarship to the University of Connecticut. But, in 1943, after Richard had graduated with his class at Hampton Academy, he joined the Air Force. Shortly after deciding to become a pilot, Richard was given the chance to volunteer for the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division, also known as the ski troops. Mr. Blake joined and was sent for training at Camp Hale in Colorado. There, along with fifteen thousand other men, he trained to climb, ski, and survive. He trained during the day and at night in temperatures reaching fifty below zero. In December of 1945, after about a year of training, Richard was sent to Naples, Italy by boat. Then, on foot, Richard Blake marched in Northern Italy to Mt. Belvedere along the stronghold of the Germans.
After two months of hard fighting, as he led an attack on Mt. Belvedere, Richard Blake was shot and killed by German gunfire. His body was shipped back to Hampton is buried here [in the High Street Cemetery]. Shortly after, the combined forces of the Americans and the British captured Mt. Belvedere and the German line was broken. About a thousand men on the Allied side were killed in the attack. On May 2, 1945, the hostilities in Italy ended. Richard Blake was awarded a Purple Heart and the Infantry Badge for honorable and outstanding service. Many people cared for Richard. Many expressed their feelings in words. "Bill" Elliot wrote a poem when he heard a young boy talking about Richard Blake. The boy said, "Gee! he was a great guy!" The poem went as follows:
By William "Bill" Elliot
"Gee, he was sure a great guy."
I heard him say as he passed me by.
"I'm sorry he had to go. One of the best,
That G.I. Joe.
Yeh! sure, he was a friend of mine,
A friend of us all along the line.
We hated to see our hero die,
'Cause he was sure a mighty swell guy.
Everyone feels the same way, too,
That there was a guy who would stick by you
He'd be at your side to take your part,
To mend if he could your broken heart.
When I pass over that great divide
To realms unknown on the other side,
I hope they'll say of me as I die,
Gee! but he was sure a great guy."
The youngster passed along that day.
I swallowed and brushed a tear away.
His heart, like mine, would not cease to ache
For Private First Class, Richard Blake.
We all owe, not to just Mr. Blake, but to all the men who have ever died in service to our country, a great debt.
Seventh Hampton Youth Gives Life In Service Of Country
Pfc. Richard W. Blake Killed In Action On Italian Front
Hampton Union, February 1945
Pfc. Richard W. Blake, 20, son of Mr. and Mrs. Forrest Blake, Black Swamp Road, was killed in action in Italy February 20. This news was received by Private Blake's mother on the same day that she received a letter from him also dated Feb. 20.
Private Blake was born in Exeter and was graduated from Hampton Academy and High School in 1943. He was very prominent in athletics and was a member of the famous Buccaneers basketball team ["Tall Towers"] in 1942. He was voted the outstanding player of 1943. He was also [class} marshal of his graduating class.
Private Blake enlisted in the Army Air Corps after graduation and entered the Army in August 1943. Later he was transferred to the ski troops and trained at Camp Hale, Colorado and at Camp Swift, Texas. From Texas, he went overseas late last fall. When killed, he was serving in Italy with a branch of the infantry known as the Mountain troops.
Although Pfc. Elliot Noyes, USA, of the Ski Troops, was stationed near "Dick" with Pfc. Roland Gray, recently reported killed in action, Blake and Elliot were never given permission to visit each other, though they kept up a correspondence. After his classmate, Pfc. Gray was killed in action, a letter was received by his mother, stating that he was well and in the best of health, though he stated in his letter, "When I get into Germany, I'm going to kill every German." His mother had not informed him of the death of his classmate, and the supposition is that "Dick" must have learned of this prior to his death on Feb. 20.
In Italy, just before the "big push", Dick received the only pass out of the members of his company which he had planned to spend in Rome. However, this pass was cancelled at the last moment, and it was stated that there would be no further passes issued. He had arrived from a rest camp shortly before he was killed.
The last letter from her son, was written Feb. 19th, and the War Department telegram and his letter were received by Mrs. Blake the same day in Hampton.
Besides his parents, he leaves a sister, Miss Phyllis Blake, a student at Hampton Academy and High School, and a brother, Hollis Blake of Winnacunnet Road. The sympathy of the entire community, is extended to the family of Pfc. Blake for whom services will be held when his family have recovered from the news of his death.
Impressive Rites Held Sunday For Pfc. Richard W. Blake, USA
Legion Members, Kiwanians And Classmates Attend In Body
Hampton Union, Thursday, May 3, 1945
HONORED -- Pfc. Richard W. Blake
Memorial services for Pfc. Richard W. Blake, USA, killed in action in Italy last February, according to word received by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Forrest Blake, of Hampton, were held in the Methodist church, Sunday afternoon [April 29, 1945] at 3 o'clock, with the church sanctuary filled to capacity.
Rev. Harold B. Keir conducted the impressive service with members of American Legion Post No. 35 of Hampton and Auxiliary Unit, and Hamptons' Kiwanis club, attending in a body.
Members of the Class of 1943 of Hampton Academy and High School of which Pfc. Blake was a member, also attended. Legion members, headed by Commanders James A. Eastman, with color-bearer, Harry Eaton, and color guards, Leslie Lovitt and William Stickney, followed by Legionnaires and members of the 11th Co., New Hampshire State Guard, marched to the church from Legion headquarters.
Ushers were Pfc. Stanwood S. Brown, USAAF, and Sgt. Nathaniel Young of Hampton Falls, a member of 11th Co., N. H. State Guards. The church pulpit was decorated with flowers and the Church, National and Legion flags.
The order of the service was as follows:
Prelude by Mrs. Robert O. E. Elliot, church organist; Invocation by Rev. Harold B. Keir; Prayer; Hymn, "0 God, Our Help in Ages Past"; words of comfort derived from poetry, literature and from the Scriptures, by pastor; Baritone solo, "The Trumpeter" by William I. Elliot ; Litany of Dedication; Benediction; "Taps" were played by Cpl. Roland DuBois of Camp Langdon, Portsmouth.
Pfc. Blake enlisted in the ski troops prior to his graduation from the Hampton Academy and High School in 1943, and was called into active service a few months following his graduation. He was sent to Camp Hale, Colo., and after transferring to the Air Corps and passing all examination for college training with high honors, was sent to Illinois where he was to take advanced training. However, under a new government order that no member of the armed forces should receive further schooling, Pfc. Blake was sent to Camp Swift, Texas, where he was trained in the infantry troops, and sent overseas in January, 1944. He was reported killed in action in Italy where he had been serving with the Mountain Ski Troops in the Infantry division.
Always popular with his classmates, and one of Hampton's outstanding athletes, he had the honor while attending high school of being chosen as the outstanding athlete for the year, and his name is engraved on the American Legion silver trophy. He was class marshall at the graduation exercises of his class in 1943.
Dick Blake Hero and Inspiration To All Youth
By William "Bill" Elliot
This is a mute and humble tribute to a great hero. One of our boys. A man, far beyond his years. Tried and found worthy. One who gave for his country and for us, his life. We reverently, thank God for the privilege of having known Dick Blake. His life will ever remain a symbol of decent living to the boys of Hampton. An inspiration to all. We often hear it said, "Why does it always have to be the best who are taken?" We've come to realize in the past few months, that no boy is truly a bad boy. No matter which of our Hampton boys was taken, we'd be losing one of the best. Yet it seems to me that Dick was one who stood out, even among our best. His character was like his visual likeness; tall, handsome, rugged and clean. We loved him because of his quiet unassuming way, his pleasant personality and his ever-present willingness to tackle the job at hand and to see it through. We know now that he tackled the greatest job of his life with this same enthusiasm, and certainly he saw it through.
In the eyes of the youth of Hampton, Dick has always been a hero. From the time he was high scorer on the Junior High basketball team and star of their football team, down through the years until he became the great athlete whose career was climaxed by the honor of being named an all-state star. He has always been their ideal and will remain even more in their hearts and minds now that he is gone.
He was known as one of Hampton's "Tall Towers", a name which suited him so well. Now, the physical tower has crumbled and the spirit has returned to God who gave it. But through the mists of the coming years it shall be rebuilt through us to carry on the work he began. My prayer today is not for him but rather for us, that we may be worthy to hold the torch he has thrown us high, to keep it burning and to resolve that Pfc. Richard W. Blake shall not have died in vain.
A man may live for a thousand years but no greater tribute could possibly be paid him than the one I heard uttered by a small boy about Dick Blake when with tears in his eyes and the thick sound in his speech which comes with a lump in the throat, he said; "Gee! he was a great guy". [See "Bill" Elliot's poem above]
Military Rites For Two War Heroes Largely Attended
Legion Units, Town Officials Honor Pvts. Blake And White
Hampton Union, Thursday, December 2, 1948, Vol. XLIX, No. 48
Flags of Hampton schools were at half-mast Tuesday when a double funeral service for two former classmates at Hampton [Academy and] High [School] who made the supreme sacrifice during the war, was held at the First Methodist Church.
The bodies of Pfc. Richard W. Blake, USA, and Pfc. Robert K. White, USA, arrived Monday evening at the Hampton depot and were escorted to the Methodist church by member of Hamptons' American Legion Post 35, and its auxiliary unit. A guard of honor was furnished by the local Legion Post until the services Tuesday. The double funeral was requested by the families after it had been learned that the bodies had been returned to the United State within two weeks of each other.
Rev. Jack Boozer, pastor of the Methodist church and a former Army chaplain, officiated at the joint service at which, in addition to their classmates in the Class of 1943 at Hampton High school, town officials, members of the Legion Post and its auxiliary and the Ladies' Aid and Wesleyan societies of the church attended. William Elliot was the soloist. Burial took place in the family lots ins the High School cemetery.
Honorary bearers were William D. Holman, Harlan Carter, Robert Buttrick, Joseph Hammond, Donald Palmer and Earl Blatchford. Active bearers were Elliott Noyes, Milton Emery, Stanwood Brown, Gerald Batchelder, Seth M. Junkins, Geary Hurd, William Palmer and Cedric Dustin, Jr. A volley was fired followed by taps by a bugler. Vernon Dennett was in charge of the squad. Rev. Mr. Boozer conducted the committal services, assisted by Charles F. Butler, Legion Chaplain.Pfc. Blake, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Forrest Blake of Hampton, was killed in action during the Italian campaign in February, 1945. He enlisted in the Ski Troops prior to his graduation from Hampton High school in 1943 and was called into active service a few months following his graduation. He entered training at Camp Hale, Colorado and was sent overseas in January, 1944. He was reported killed in action in Italy when he had been serving with the Mountain Ski Troops in the 10th Mountain DivisionPfc. White, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest L. White of Mill Road, Hampton, was killed in a train wreck in France in June, 1945. He reported for active duty in the Army in the spring of 1944 and trained at Camp McClelland. He was sent overseas in November of the same year, a member of the 310th Infantry, 78th Division
Bodies of Two War Heroes to Arrive Monday For Rites
Double Funeral Tuesday For Pfc. Blake and Pfc. White
Hampton Union, Thursday, November 25, 1948
The bodies of two war dead, Pfc. Richard W. Blake of Hampton and Pfc. Robert K. White of North Hampton, will arrive in Hampton on Monday evening, November 29, 1948.
A double funeral service will be held for the two Hampton Academy classmates at the First Methodist Church, Hampton, on Tuesday afternoon at 2 p.m. with Rev. Jack Boozer, pastor of the church, officiating.
A Guard of Honor from Hamptons' American Legion Post 35, will meet the 6:06 p.m. train Monday evening and provide a military escort to the Methodist church where the bodies will lie in state until the funeral services Tuesday afternoon. Visiting hours at the church will be from 7 to 11 p.m. Monday evening and 10 to 12 noon Tuesday, with the Legion Post maintaining an honor guard throughout the night.
Pfc. Blake, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Forrest Blake of Hampton, was killed in action during the Italian campaign in February, 1945. He enlisted in the Ski Troops prior to his graduation from Hampton Academy and High School in 1943 and was called into active service a few months following his graduation. He entered training at Camp Hale, Colorado and was sent overseas in January, 1944. He was reported killed in action in Italy when he had been serving with the Mountain Ski Troops in the Infantry Division.
Pfc. White, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest L. White of Mill road, North Hampton, was killed in a train wreck in France in June, 1945. He reported for active duty in the Army in the spring of 1944 and trained at Camp McClelland. He was sent overseas in November of the same year, a member of the 310th Infantry, 78th Division.
During the winter of '44 and '45 he fought with a cannon company and after cessation of hostilities in May, 1945, served with the same company on Guard Duty. Pfc. White graduated from Hampton High in 1943 and left besides his parents, a brother, John T. White, and a sister, Mrs. Fred Dalton, both of North Hampton.
When it was learned that both boys were on their way home, arrangements were made with the Commanding General of the distribution center to have the bodies arrive at the same time. The boys had been lifetime chums as well as classmates at Hampton Academy and High School.