Rifleman William Stirling Claridge
London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade) 1/5th Battalion
Service number 9545
Killed in action on 13th May 1915
Age of death: 19
Son of Mrs. A. C. Claridge
Residence: 72, Riggindale Road, Streatham, London.
Commemorated at Ypres (Menin Gate Memorial)
William Stirling Claridge, son of Mrs A. C. Claridge, lived at 72 Riggindale Road, Streatham. He was a member of the London Rifle Brigade, the 1/5th Battalion of the London Regiment, with a service number of 9545 and is stated to have been ‘killed in action’ on the 13th May 1915. By looking at his battalion’s War Diary, it can be assumed that he was killed on the night of this day as the riflemen ‘moved to [the] divisional support line immediately across St Jean- Wieltje Road opposite [their] reserve trench’. From this, it can also be seen that this battalion, which came under the command of the 11th Brigade of the 4th division in November 1914, served in Ypres, Belgium as Wieltje is found east of Ypres. The assumption that this event resulted in his death is based on the information that the ‘casualties were very severe’ with ‘2 officers, 33 men killed’ and ‘4 officers and 49 men wounded’.
There were many other events that occurred at the beginning of this day. As early as 4:00am, 'heavy shelling started', which then 'continued incessantly for over 12 hours'. Then, interestingly, at 5:00am eighteen ‘hussars’ (soldiers in a cavalry regiment) ‘commenced retiring from their trench’ but were ‘prevailed upon to return’, suggesting the soldiers may have attempted to escape but were prevented, although it is not clear by who. This shows the difficulty of escape from the trenches for the fighting soldiers. The event that took place at 8:20am clearly demonstrates the condition of the trenches, ‘30 men returned from trench reporting no room so only 1 company Kings own came up’, instead of the initial instruction by the Brigadier (the commander of the battalion) to send ‘2’. Here it is clear how little space there was for the number of soldiers that were needed to fight. The second of the company King’s Own was then sent to ‘support Essex’ at 9:45am. Then, at noon, the ‘enemy massed were heavily fired on’ by the Brigade’s ‘riffles and machine guns’ which was not followed by an ‘attack’ and at 6:30pm there were ‘orders for relief’, although it is not stated whether this support arrived or not.
This is the last event spoken about before the events of the ‘night’ whereby it can be assumed Claridge was ‘killed in action’ at age 19. William Stirling Claridge is commemorated today at the Menin Gate memorial in Ypres, Belgium.
By Thea, Year 12
War Diary, The National Archives' reference WO 95/1498/2