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Charles Gordon Claridge was born on 12th March 1897 in Northaw, Hertfordshire, England. His parents were Lavinia Isabella Jeapes (b. 1869) and Charles Claridge (b. 1868) who was a farmer at Colesdole Farm, Northaw. He had one sibling, an older sister Lavinia Elsie Mary Claridge born in 1895.

At the time of the 1901 census the family were living 32 Preston-Drove in Brighton. His father was now a building contractor, an employer.

On the evening of the 1911 census Charles Gordon Claridge is found with his mother and sister at his grandmother’s house at 85 Tulse Hill, London.

When war broke out he was studying at Streatham College and on 5th September 1914 he enlisted as a Private soldier into the 28th Battalion of the London Regiment, the Artist’s Rifles, where he was given the number 2429.

At the time of his enlistment he was single and living at home at 103 Tulse Hill and provided the name of his mother at the same address as being his legal next of kin. The medical officer described Charles as being 19 years 6 months old and standing 5ft 11in with a 36.75in chest and of good physical development.

Charles was embodied into the 1/28th Battalion and sailed from Southampton to France on 22nd January 1915. With the exception of 12 days in No. 10 Stationary Hospital with measles that April he remained in good health amd between 30th August and 22nd September 1916 he was attached to Anson Battalion (63rd R. N. Div) for a course of instruction.

On 22nd December 1916, in the field, he was appointed to Commission in the 7th (Service) Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was appointed temporary Second Lieutenant with seniority from 22nd November 1916. He was then attached to the 30th Battalion of the Kings Liverpool Regiment.

claridge commission


Charles returned to the Loyal North Lancs and joined ‘A Company’ of the 1st Battalion on 30th March 1918. After an attack at Givenchy the next month, on 18th April 1918 he was reported to be missing and news was eventually received to say he had been taken as a prisoner of war and was being held in Germany.

The 1st Battalion War Diary for the date of his capture reads;

Extract from the Battalion War Diary – 18th April 1918

“At 4.15am, the enemy commenced to bombard the whole of the Divisional front. The barrage became intense and at 8.10 the enemy attacked from the north, filtering into our trenches under cover of the high ground at Givenchy. He succeeded in reaching and occupying the main line of resistance before counter measures could be taken. Vigorous counter attacks by “C” and “D” Companies eventually succeeded in ejecting the enemy from our main line and by 11am he was only holding a few isolated posts in our outpost line”

On the following day there was a certain amount of sniping from the Germans who were now holding the shell craters which had formed the outpost line. The 1st Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment later successfully attacked the remaining enemy and the Germans retreated back to their own line.

A period of quiet then followed with the men concentrating on repairing and improving the defences until finally being relieved from the front line on the 23rd-24th April.

Although the Battalion War Diary does not give a daily account of casualties it does record the loss of 46 men killed, 105 wounded and 189 missing for this particular period in the front line .

In May 1918, whilst in captivity, it was announced that he had been promoted to temporary Lieutenant.

Charles remained a prisoner for the remainder of the War and on Christmas day 1918 he was repatriated and arrived home on the S.S Russ. He then gave a statement about the circumstances of his capture;

On 18th April 1918 I was in charge of two outposts (one N.C.O. and three men in each) 100 yards in front of the Battalion’s front line (GIVENCHY sector) when the enemy put down a very heavy barrage at 6:30 a.m. which lasted until 8 a.m. when they attacked along the whole front in very large numbers. One N.C.O and two men of mine were killed by the barrage which weakened my posts and I had not a Lewis Gun in either of the posts; and had not any reply from the S.O.S. which I put up. The enemy succeeded in surrounding the posts and capturing us from the rear.

Charles was given two months leave before being posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion at Felixstowe.

Charles Gordon Claridge was finally demobilised on 24th January 1920 and was permitted to retain the rank of Lieutenant. His address on discharge was ‘Thornally’, 103 Tulse Hill, London.

Lieutenant Charles Gordon Claridge died aged 86 years on 9th October 1983 in Kensington and Chelsea. His medals, the 1914/15 star, British War Medal and Allied Victory medal sold on ebay in August 2014.

Paul McCormick
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