Rifleman 7816 Samuel Bridge

Bridge Samuel 96 563x600
Photograph of Samuel courtesy of Andrew Holland.
Bridge Samuel 96 563x182
Samuel's name on the Menin Gate.

Died of Wounds on Saturday, 31st October 1914, age 39.
Commemorated on Panel 51 and 53 of Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

'A' Company of 2nd Bn., King's Royal Rifle Corps. 2nd Brigade of 1st Division.

Husband of Mary Bridge, of 93, Montague Rd., Cape Hill, Smethwick, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Birmingham, Resident: Unknown.

First landed France & Flanders, 13th August 1914.
Medal entitlement: 1914 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives survived and transcribed.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/929067/

Genealogical Data

Marriage of Samuel Bridge and Mary Ryan in September Quarter 1899, at St Luke's Church in Cork, Ireland.

1901 Census
House 6, No. 2 Block Married Quarters, Shandon, Cork.
Samuel Bridge (27, Married, Rifleman of the 4th Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps, born Tipton), his wife Mary (25, born Cork County), and their 2 children: Edwin (1, born Cork City), and Maria (3 months, born Cork City).

1911 Census
Brookhill Quarters, Woolwich.
Samuel Bridge (37, Married, Rifleman of the 6th Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps, born Tipton).
Separately listed, but living at Brookhill Quarters, Woolwich.
Mary Bridge (35, Married, born Cork), and her 7 children: Edwin (10, born Cork), Maria (9, born Cork), Samuel (8, born Coventry), Ellen (6, born Cork), Annie (4, born Aldershot), William (2, born Aldershot), and Victoria (10 months, born Aldershot).
A further child, Thomas, was born on 6th January 1914 at Blackdown, Kent.

Personal Data

Samuel enlisted with the King's Royal Rifles Corps (KRRC) on 19th October 1892 in Birmingham for a term of 7 years and a further 5 years in the Reserves. He was 18 years and 1 month old, 5 feet 5¾ inches tall, weighed 122 pounds, and had a 33-inch chest. He had a dark complexion, dark brown hair and dark brown eyes, was employed as a Labourer, and was Church of England.

Samuel's career with the KRRC was to last for a continuous period of over 22 years, only finishing with his death. Initially he was posted to the 4th Battalion spending some time in Ireland, as he was married in Cork on 19th October 1899, just a day after extending his period of service to 12 years (to 1904).

Samuel was in South Africa during the Second Boer War, serving from 11th November 1901 to 14th July 1902; as well as receiving the South Africa medals, he received a £5 War Gratuity. In April 1903 he was posted to the 3rd battalion who then spent 18 months in Bermuda. During this period, on 18th January 1904, he was permitted to extend his service again from 12 years to 21 years (1913).

After being posted to the 4th and the 6th (Reserve) battalions, he was posted to the 2nd battalion on 26th February 1912. On 18th July 1913 he was "permitted to continue in the service beyond 21 years", an extension which was to last until his death on 31st October 1914, a period of 22 years and 13 days service.

His Service papers show that on the 31st October 1914 he was reported missing, and later was 'accepted dead', however it seems that his family were not informed officially for some time.

On 5th January 1915, his wife Mary wrote from Godalming asking if anything had been heard of her husband as her letters were being returned. His last letter was dated 27th October, and "I am getting rather anxious about him". On 20th September 1915, Samuel's sister, Mrs Victoria Proffitt, wrote from Hill Street, Chasetown asking if anything had been heard of Samuel Bridge.

Samuel was 'presumed to have died' on 31st October 1914, and his pay continued to 8th February 1915. His widow, Mary, received his outstanding Army pay of £29/7/3d (29 pounds seven shillings and 3 pence) in July 1916, and a War Gratuity of £5/0/0d (5 pounds exactly) on 14th November 1919.

Action resulting in his death

Samuel had probably been in almost constant action since late August taking part in the Battles of Mons, the Marne and the Aisne. October brought the 2nd Battalion to Gheluvelt on the outskirts of Ypres in Belgium. It was a desperate situation with the British troops fighting against massive odds. They had hastily dug in on the 29th to the south of Gheluvelt and spent the next day trying to improve their defences, whilst under continual shellfire.

On the 31st, the enemy attacked in strength but was held off initially. They managed to get into part of the British trenches and were firing down the trench with a machine gun. At one point, they brought up a field artillery piece to within 800 yards of the British line, intent on demolishing the defences. "A" and "B" companies were now almost surrounded (Samuel was in "A" company). Most of the men were dead or injured and several started to be taken prisoner. Coming quickly to the assistance of the British, the Field Artillery brought up their own gun and fired point blank at the Germans advancing down the main street of the village. This stopped them in their tracks for enough time for the Battalion to withdraw to a position on higher ground outside the village.

Throughout this time, there was fierce hand-to-hand fighting, especially in the village. The Germans managed to position a machine gun in a side street, which enabled them to fire on the British reserve trenches. Orders were given to retire from this position. The withdrawal was covered by two platoons of "D" Company who managed to hold up the German advance for 40 minutes, leaving when the enemy was only 40 yards away. The remnants of the Battalion were reorganised and brought back to reinforce the fighting line.

The 2nd King's Royal Rifles had 60 men killed on the 31st October, the majority of them, like Samuel, have no known grave and are commemorated on the Menin Gate in Ypres.

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