Herbert Leslie Ridley was born in Springfield, the grandson of the founder of the brewers and milers T. D. Ridley and sons. He was educated at Marlborough College and Trinity College, Cambridge. At the outbreak of the war he went to Sandhurst, and proceeded to France early in 1915. He was wounded in April 1915 and was awarded the Military Cross the following year. He was killed in action in July 1917 near Ypres by an exploding shell. His home was in Springfield Road. A brother was also killed during the war.
RIDLEY, HERBERT LESLIE, Military Cross,
Captain, 1st Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers
On 1st April 1917 Herbert was promoted to the rank of temporary Captain.
Herbert was killed in action by a shell on 15th July 1917 while serving as Captain M C in the 1st Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. He was aged 22. He is buried at Canada Farm Cemetery, Ypres, West-Vlaanderen. Belgium (grave: I. D. 17). The cemetery took its name from a farmhouse used as a dressing station during the 1917 Allied offensive on this front and most of the burials are of men who died at the dressing station between June and October 1917.
Four days after his death Herbert’s mother received a telegram from the War Office advising her of that event.
On 20th July 1917 the Essex Weekly News reported:
“Captain H. L. Ridley killed in action. Notification has been received from the War Office of the death in action on Sunday last of Capt. Herbert Leslie Ridley, Royal Dublin Fusiliers, youngest son of the late Mr. Walter Ridley, of Redgates, Springfield, and of Mrs.. Ridley, Springfield Tyrells, Chelmsford. The deceased officer, who was 22 years of age, was educated at Marlborough and Trinity College, Cambridge. On the outbreak if war he went to Sandhurst, and was gazetted to the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, with which he served in more than one theatre of war. He proceeded to the Front in 1915 and was wounded at St. Julien on April 23 of the same year. He also took part in the fighting on the Somme last year, and had been awarded the Military Cross. His brother, Capt. Chris. M. Ridley, Essex Regt., was killed in action on Oct. 31, 1916.”
The Essex County Chronicle and Essex Weekly News of 27th July 1917 both carried a family announcement of Herbert’s death:
“Ridley - Killed in action, on July 15th, Captain Herbert Leslie Ridley, M.C., Royal Dublin Fusiliers, youngest son of the late Walter Ridley, of Redgates, and Mrs. Ridley, Springfield Tyrells, Chelmsford, aged 22 years.”
The day’s Essex County Chronicle carried a further report of his death:
“Last week we reported the death in action of Capt. H. L. Ridley, M.C., Royal Dublin Fusiliers, son of Mrs. Ridley, of Springfield Tyrells. His commanding officer has since written: ‘He was going round his trenches last Sunday evening, the 15th, when a shell burst quite close, killing him instantaneously. As his C.O. for some twenty months I knew him well. He had been my Adjutant for quite a long time, but, good as he was in that capacity, he was still better as Company commander, and I always felt I could rely on him under all circumstances. He set such a splendid example of gallantry and cheerfulness that his men would follow him anywhere, and after the long years he has spent on service it is particularly sad he should now be taken away, He was naturally a great favourite with everyone, and his death was very keenly felt by the Division.”
The same day’s Essex Weekly News carried a similar report:
“With reference to the death in action of Capt. Herbert Leslie Ridley, M.C., Royal Dublin Fusiliers, youngest son of the late Mr. Walter Ridley, of Redgates, Springfield, which was reported last week, his C.O. writes: ‘He was going round his trenches on Sunday evening, July 15, when a shell burst quite close, killing him instantaneously. As his C.O. for some 20 months I knew him well. He had been my adjutant for quite a long time, but good as he was in that capacity, he was still better as company commander, and I always felt I could rely on him under all circumstances. He set such a splendid example of gallantry and cheerfulness that his men would follow him anywhere; and after the long years he has spent on service, it is particularly sad he should now be taken away. He was naturally a great favourite with everyone, and his death was very keenly felt by the division.”
The Supplement to the London Gazette of 13th October 1917 announced that ‘Lt. H. L. Ridley MC (since killed in action)’ of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers had been a temporary Captain while commanding a Company with effect from 1st April 1917.
Herbert is commemorated on the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford and on the Springfield Parish Memorial at All Saints’ Church.
Herbert was born at Redgates (later known as Bishopscourt) in Springfield Road, Springfield on 7th September 1894, the son of Walter Ridley (1848-1900) and Louisa Catherine Ridley (nee Mellor). Herbert’s paternal grandfather was Thomas Dixon Ridley founder of the Essex brewers T. D. Ridley & Sons Ltd. in 1842. Herbert’s father had been born in Chelmsford; his mother in Stainland, Yorkshire in 1854. The couple had married at St. James’ Church, Picadilly, London on 23rd February 1876, and in 1881 had been resident at the Mill House, Hartford End, before moving in to the newly-built Redgates in 1889. In 1891 the census had found them at Redgates in Springfield.
Herbert’s siblings included Winifred Mary Ridley (born in 1877 in Felsted, died in 1950), Catherine Muriel Ridley (born in 1880 at Hartford End, died in 1919), Thomas Dixon Ridley (born in 1882 at Hartford End, died in 1961), Helen Margery Ridley (born in 1885 at Hartford End, died in 1974), Christopher Mellor Ridley (born on 3rd December 1890 at Redgates), and Walter Lancelot Ridley (born in 1892 at Redgates, died in 1953).
Christopher’s father died at Redgates in September 1900, News of his death was reported in a
Chelmsford newspaper on 28th September:
“DEATH OF WALTER RIDLEY OF SPRINGFIELD. We regret to announce the sudden death of Mr. Walter Ridley, of Redgates, Springfield, which took place at his residence Monday forenoon.
His wife had been out on parochial work, and on returning was greatly shocked to find him dead, sitting in his study chair. Mr. Ridley was about on Sunday, and at church, and Saturday he was also out of doors.
The deceased gentleman, who was 52 years of age, was the youngest son the late Mr. Thos. Dixon Ridley, the Elms, Broomfield-road, Chelmsford, and was member of the firm T. D. and Sons, millers, maltsters, and brewers, whose name is known throughout United Kingdom. He was educated at Uppingham. In his work he was more particularly associated with the brewery at Hartford-end.
Mr. Walter Ridiey was a gentleman of kindly, but most unobtrusive manners, and took little part in public affairs. He did, however, sit for a time the representative of the Springheld Division on the Essex County Council, in which position, though he did little or no talking, he was found to be of real service.He was also member the Springfield Parish Council, and, up to last Easter, one of the churchwardens of the pariah.
Some months ago he was stricken with illness which appeared very serious, but seemed to the casual eye recovered until recently, when he became visibly weaker. It was known, however, his malady would end fatally. About a week before his death consulted sir Wm. Broadbent.
Mr. Ernest Ridiey, the deceased gentleman's brother, was last week in Scotland on a shooting excursion. While on the moors he received » telegram announcing the death, and, singular to relate, when he returned to the house at which he was staying he found a letter from his brother which he had written to him on the Saturday.
Mr. Ridley built the handsome house in which he has for some years resided, and laid out the grounds. He leaves a widow and seven children. During his illness tie was attended by Dr. Storrs.
The deceased gentleman was a thoroughly good sportsman, very fond of hunting, and a member oi the Essex Union Hunt.
The body will be removed from Redgates to All Saints' Church this (Friday) evening, and there will early celebration of the Holy Communion in the Church to-morrow morning, the members the family will attend. The body will remain in the Church until 2.15 in the afternoon, when a funeral service will be held. The interment will subsequently take place in Holy Trinity churchyard.
The census the following spring recorded Herbert, his widowed mother, three siblings and six servants at Redgates. His mother moved to Springfield Tyrells (then number 78 Springfield Road, now number 280, pictured above) in Springfield in 1907. The house had been put up for sale after the death in April 1907 of its owner Charles Bramston Osborne Gepp. His son, Charles Edward Gepp, who was killed during the war, had been born there in 1898. Redgates was later home to the Bishop of Chelmsford and was demolished in the 1980s.
Herbert was educated at Marlborough College from May 1908 to 1913. The 1911 census recorded him there, where he was a 16 year-old student. He played Hockey in 1912-13, as Captain and went up to Trinity College, Cambridge in 1913.
Herbert joined the army in 1914 and was granted a Commission as a Second Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusileers. His army medical, taken in Moy, Ireland, recorded that he was five feet nine and a quarter inches tall, had a 39 inch expanded chests, weighed 150 pounds, had good hearing and teeth, and good colour vision. He landed in France on 18th January 1915.
Herbert was wounded in action near Ypres in Belgium on 25th April 1915. One bullet passed through his left forearm and another went through the right shoulder and chest. Two days later he crossed the English Channel from Boulogne to Dover on the hospital street St. Patrick enroute to a hospital in Cambridge. On 4th May 1915 Herbert’s mother received a telegram advising her of the news:
“2/Lieut. H L Ridley Royal Dublin Fusileers was admitted to Cambridge Research Hospital 25 April suffering from gunshot wound right shoulder and left wrist.”
On 30th April 1915 the Essex County Chronicle reported”
“Lieut. Leslie Ridley, Royal Dublin Fusileers, a nephew of Mr. C. E. Ridley, D.L., J.P., of The Elms, Broomfield, has been wounded in his arms. He was transferred to Cambridge Hospital on Tuesday from Boulogne.”
Herbert’s wounds healed quickly apart from the exit wound which only ceased to discharge on 24th May 1915. After recovering Herbert passed his medical board at Colchester on 28th May 1915 and joined the 3rd Reserve Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusileers on 16th June 1915 at Rostellan, County Cork before returning to the front.
By then he had been promoted to Lieutenant with effect from 2nd May 1915.
He became a temporary Captain commanding a Company from 21st December 1915.
The Supplement to the London Gazette of 1st November 1916 announced that he had relinquished the temporary rank of Captain on 6th August 1916.
Herbert’s brother Christopher Mellor Ridley was killed on 31st October 1916.
On 5th January 1917 the Essex County Chronicle reported that Herbert had been awarded the Military Cross.
Herbert left an estate valued at £5,204 19s. 10d.
The 1918 register of electors listed his mother at Tyrells (later given the number 250). She died in 1943, aged 88.
On 8th January 1943 the Essex Chronicle reported:
“The death occurred at Springfield Place, Chelmsford, on Tuesday, in her 89th year, of Mrs. Louisa Catherine Ridley, widow of Mr. Walter Ridley, a member of the well-known Essex firm of milers and brewers founded by his
father, the late Mr. Thomas Dixon Ridley. Mr. and Mrs.Walter Ridley lived for many years at Regates, Springfield (now Bishopscourt, the residence of the Bishop of Chelmsford).
Mr. Ridley died 38 years ago, and Mrs. Ridley subsequently resided for a long period at Springfield Tyrells, moving to Springfield Place four years since. Until last September, when she fell and broke her hip, Mrs, Ridley had been a very active lady, being a fine, upstanding figure and well preserved for her age. She took a keen interest in church work at springfield and was a most kindly district visitor. Any good cause found her a ready friend.
Of the four sons, Capt. Leslie Ridley and Capt. Christopher Ridley were killed in the last war. Those surviving are Mr, Thomas Ridley, of Eastbourne, and Lieut.-Col. W. L. Ridley, of Springfield Place, a former Commanding Officer of the 5th Essex Regt. There are also two daughter (Mrs. Gilmore, of Galleywood, and Mrs. Fletcher, of Little Waltham).
The funeral of Mrs Ridley is fixed for today, service ar 2.30 to precede interment in Holy Trinity Churchyard.