Serjeant George Alfred Couldridge

Date of Birth c. 1890
Age at Death 25
Date of Death 11 May 1915
Service Number 9864
Military Service 2nd Battalion East Surrey Regiment
Merton Address 5 Grove Road, Wimbledon
Local Memorial All Saints Church, South Wimbledon

Additional Information

Born in Chelsea, London in 1891, George was the third son of a coachbuilder’s labourer, Thomas Couldridge and his wife Maryann. The couple also had an older son, William, born in 1890 and five younger sons Edward, Arthur, Sydney, Percy and David, born between 1894 and 1907. 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. It is likely that George attended Haydon’s Road Boys’ School, together with his older brother, William. They had both left home by 1908 and the following year, after a brief spell as a butcher, William enlisted in the 2nd Battalion East Surrey Regiment. George followed his brother into the same regiment, initially serving with the Reserves. He was 17 years, 9 months old when he joined the 2nd Battalion. Records suggest that he may have tried to enlist earlier by lying about his age, possibly in order to join up with William.

The 1911 census shows the rest of the Couldridge family living at 7 Caroline Road, Wimbledon. By now George’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, George’s battalion was based in Chaubattia, India, in order to protect British interests. In December 1914 the men returned to Britain and were stationed at Winchester before joining the 85th Brigade. George and William Couldridge both embarked for Le Havre, France on 19 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.

By the spring of 1915, William Couldridge was a Lance Corporal, whilst George had been promoted to Corporal. Three of their younger brothers were also serving in the army. The Couldridge contribution to the war effort was officially recognised in a congratulatory message sent to the family home by King George V.

Tragedy was to follow - 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 George who had the grim task of burying his brother’s body near Voormezelle on the Ypres salient.

Records show that George was later promoted to Lance Corporal and by May 1915, he had achieved the rank of Sergeant. Between 8 and 9 May, his unit was involved in fighting between Poperinge and Verlorenhoek. The battalion sustained heavy casualties from enemy shelling and machine gun fire. On 10 May a Captain and 17 others were killed, whilst a 2nd Lieutenant and 40 of his men were wounded and a further 44 soldiers were missing. George Couldridge, was one of four men killed on the following day, in what was described as a “quiet day in the trenches.”

George’s body was never found. He is one of 54,000 Allied servicemen whose names appear on the Menin Gate in Ypres. He and his brother, William are listed on a memorial at All Saints Church, South Wimbledon. Their names also appear on a memorial plaque, originally housed at Haydon’s Road Boys School, but now displayed at All Saints Primary School, Wimbledon.

At the time of George’s death, his parents were living at 5 Grove Road, Wimbledon. Two of their younger sons remained at the Front, a third was invalided home after losing a leg during the conflict.


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