Private William Ernest Couldridge

Date of Birth c. 1888
Age at Death 27
Date of Death 2 April 1915
Service Number 9469
Military Service 2nd Battalion East Surrey Regiment
Merton Address 5 Grove Road, Wimbledon
Local Memorial All Saints Church, South Wimbledon

Additional Information

Born in 1890 in the Chelsea district of London, William was the second son of a coachbuilder’s labourer, Thomas Couldridge and his wife Maryann. Between 1891 and 1907 the couple had a further six sons, George, Edward, Arthur, Sydney, Percy and David. Their first child, Thomas, seems to have died in infancy.

By 1901 the family was living at 3 Gilroy Square, Chelsea, however they later moved to Wimbledon. William attended Haydon’s Road School, before becoming a butcher’s assistant. He left home in 1908 and enlisted in the East Surrey Regiment, becoming a Private in the 2nd Battalion.

The 1911 census shows the rest of the Couldridge family living at 7 Caroline Road, Wimbledon. By now William’s father was working as porter in a home furnishings shop. His 14 year old brother, Arthur, had also found employment as an errand boy for a local china shop.

During the first five months of the war, William’s battalion was based in Chaubattia, India, in order to protect British interests. In December 1914 they returned to Britain and were stationed at Winchester before joining the 85th Brigade. They landed at Le Havre, France in January 1915 and were quickly moved into action in the Ypres region of Belgium. As army regulars, the men of the 2nd battalion were involved in heavy fighting from the outset and suffered heavy losses. After just five days of fighting, barely 200 of the 1000 strong company survived.

William was later promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal. By this time four of his younger brothers were also serving in the army and his parents received official congratulations from King George V, for having five sons in the forces.

Sadly this was followed by family tragedy. William was killed on Good Friday ( 2 April 1915 ) after less than four months on the Western Front. In a cruel twist of fate, it was his younger brother George, a Corporal in the East Surrey Regiment, who had the grim task of burying William’s body near Voormezelle. George was killed in the Ypres salient just over a month later. Two of the younger Couldridge brothers remained at the Front and a third was invalided home, having lost a leg during the conflict.

William is commemorated at the Voormezelle Enclosure, Belgium. He and his brother, George are listed on a memorial at All Saints Church, South Wimbledon. Their names also appear on a memorial plaque, originally housed at Haydons Road Boys School, but now displayed at All Saints Primary School, Wimbledon.


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