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Friday, 4 August 2017

Ernest Alfred Tidridge died 4 August 1917 - “Lest we forget”

Ernest Alfred Tidridge 1898 -1917

Southampton Cenotaph
Southampton Cenotaph

Southampton Cenotaph

In a quiet Southampton park is the cenotaph with the names of the men of Southampton who died in World War 1. Among the names is ERNEST ALFRED TIDRIDGE. The names are fading as the stone deteriorates and at the start of the 21st century it was decided to add glass panels to the memorial.  A glass wall consisting of eight large panels was built alongside the Cenotaph engraved with the names of the World War I casualties and, in addition, those from Southampton who had died in later conflicts. The memorial Wall included a total of 2,368 names from the First World War.

Behind each name is a story of a life wasted by the ravages of war. On 4th August 2017 is the 100th anniversary of the death of Ernest Alfred Tidridge, let us remember him. This is his story

Ernest Tidridge’s Family

Ernest Alfred Tidridge was the son of Harry John Tidridge (1863 - 1944) and Emma Louisa Newman (1862 - 1939) of 2 Silverdale Road, Southampton. Harry was a church verger at St Mark's Church Southampton. Harry and Emma had 11 children. The children were

  • Edward Harry Francis Tidridge (1884-1971) emigrated to USA and married Ellen Connor
  • Annie Louisa (Sis) Tidridge (1886-1949) emigrated to USA married Harold King
  • William John Newman Tidridge (1888-1969) married Ethel Merefield
  • George Harold Tidridge (1889 – 1973)
  • Amelia Minnie Georgina Tidridge (1891-1936) married Ernest Seward
  • Bertie Tidridge (1893-1958) married Bertie Leamon
  • Daisy Lillian Tidridge (1896-1966)
  • Ernest Alfred Tidridge (1898-1917)
  • John H Tidridge (1900-1900)
  • Louisa Ellen (Lulu) Tidridge (1903-1981) (married John Place
  • Walter Sidney Tidridge (1905-1990) married Frances Clark

Joining the Royal Hampshire Regiment

Ernest’s elder brother, William, had enlisted with the Royal Hampshire Regiment within 8 days of war being declared in 1914, with brother Bertie joining up later.  Ernest probably enlisted in late 1915.  He first served with the 2nd Battalion and then the 14th Battalion of the Royal Hampshire Regiment. He did not enter a theatre of war until after the beginning of 1916 as he was only awarded the British War and Victory Medals.  We are unsure when Ernest was transferred from one battalion to the other but he was serving with the 14th when he died. The 14th (Service) Battalion was raised in Portsmouth. It was sent to France in March 1916 and  took part in the Battle of the Somme .

3rd Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele)

Ernest's Battalion was moved to Ypres area where in July 1917 they took part in the Third Battle of Ypres. The Third Battle of Ypres was a series of operations rather than one battle and is more commonly known as Passchendaele after the Flemish village which was the final objective.

The first of these battles, the Battle of Pilckem Ridge, began on 31 July 1917. The 14th Hampshire Battalion were in action as part of 41st Division’s attack from just northwest of Wieltje towards St Julien – a distance of around 3,000 yards.

The war diary of this battalion is very concise and limited in detail. In the build up to the attack it shows the battalion were at Houlle (30 miles west of Ypres) from 22nd June where they underwent training, practising for the attack to come.  On 15th July they moved closer to the front and again on 23rd July they moved closer again.  They continued to do training exercises, digging mock trenches and practising attacks. On 30th July they moved to the assembly positions in and behind the bilge trench. The entries for 31st July at Hill Top Sector shows that they advanced at 3.50am from the assembly position.  They attacked and captured three German Lines.  The 116th Brigade took the village of St Julien but were forced to give it up due to enemy artillery fire and vigorous counter-attacks. However, 14th Hampshires managed to hold on to their positions outside the village, until relieved on 4 August. By the end of the first day, 31st July, the battalion had captured 2 Field Guns and one 4.5 Howitzer, 17 Machine Guns and over 200 prisoners.  The cost was high however - 2 officers killed, 3 wounded, 1 died of wounds and for the other ranks 17 killed; 1 died of wounds; 156 wounded; 42 missing.  About one-fifth of the Battalion was killed or wounded that day.  It is likely Ernest was one of the wounded on this day.

This account on the Hurst War Memorial Website  gives a good account of the action.

“14th Battalion formed part of 116 Brigade whose mission was to attack the German trenches opposite St Julien, a tiny Belgium farming village. At 4am. shrill whistles blew and the men rushed forward across No Man's Land before the German counter barrage could hit them. After reaching the firm ground of Admiral's Road, a farm track in No Man's Land, they pushed on across shell torn fields, occasionally diving into shell holes for protection. They reached the first objective of Caliban Trench, the old German front line, which had already been taken by the 11th Royal Sussex Battalion. The 14th Hampshires passed through them as they consolidate the position. It was still only 4.30am. and the Battalion continued its advance towards Juliet Farm and beyond that to the village of St Julien, the objective of the day. The attack was held up by machine guns of German defenders still clinging on to some of the pillboxes and by 9 a.m. heavy rain had set in and lasted for the next five days. With the help of tanks the 14th Hampshires overcame these defences and went on to capture and hold the village of St Julien.”

Died of Wounds

Ernest died of wounds at the Casualty Clearing Station at Dozinghem on 4 August 1917 aged 19. This was one of three casualty clearing stations set up in July 1917, in readiness for the forthcoming offensive.   Ernest's death was probably as a result of wounds sustained during the attack of 31st July at Pickhelm Ridge, although the battalion also suffered further casualties on the first 2 days of August.

Ernest was buried at Dozinghem Military Cemetery, Westvleteren, Belgium.  The village is north of Poperinge. He is buried in Plot 2, Row C Grave 7.  There are now 3,174 Commonwealth burials of the First World War in the cemetery and 65 German war graves from this period

A picture of Ernest's grave can be seen at the following link

His War grave reads:
In Memory of  E. A. Tidridge, Private 35264
14th Bn. Hampshire Regiment
who died on Saturday 4th August 1917 age 19

Ernest Tidridge on Southampton Cenotaph
Ernest Tidridge's name on Southampton Cenotaph

Glass screens attached to Southampton Cenotaph
Glass Screens added to Southampton Cenotaph
Ernest Tidridge name on Southampton Cenotaph
Ernest Tidridge's Name on glass screen
at Southampton Cenotaph

Memorial to men of Royal Hampshire Regiment
Memorial to the men of the Royal Hampshire Regiment
in Winchester Cathedral

Lines from "For the Fallen" By Robert Binyon 1914

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in morning
We will remember them.


John Tidridge said...

Thank you!

Ann Titheradge said...

I would be delighted if you were able to add any further information on your relative if you know anything else about Ernest either from family stories or your research.