Richard Dyer was born in 11 October 1873 at Oaklands in Chudleigh. He was the sixth child of George and Mary Ann Dyer. George was an agricultural labourer and the family resided in Woodway Street in Chudleigh.
In the census of 1891, Richard is shown as a single man, employed as a general labourer and living with his parents in Woodway Street, Chudleigh.
Richard enlisted as Private 4998 Dyer with the Devonshire Regiment in 1898. He joined the 2nd Battalion and in 1899 was sent off to South Africa to fight in the 2nd Boer War.
He was invalided back to England in 1900, probably with enteric fever. He recovered and rejoined his Battalion in South Africa. He was awarded the Queen's South African Medal with three clasps, indicating he fought in the Transvaal, at Tugela Heights and in the relief of Ladysmith.
In the photograph below, he is shown wearing the Queen's Medal together with two of the clasps. He later received the King's South African Medal.