William George Cole Riddle

Memorial: Thornbury - St Mary's Church

Regiment: Royal Welsh Fusiliers

Medals: British War Medal, Next of Kin Memorial Plaque 1914 - 1921, Victory Medal

Rank and number: Private 93906

Parents: Luke and Mary Jane Riddle (nee Longden)

Marital status: Married

Home address: 8 Holly Tree Cottage, Grovesend, Thornbury, Bristol

Pre-war occupation: Assistant Repairer in a colliery

Date of birth: 1882

Place of birth: Thornbury, Bristol

Date of death: 08/10/1918

Buried/Commemorated at: Bois-Des-Angles British Cemetery (Ref. II. B. 2.), Crèvecoeur-Sur-L'Escaut

Age: 36

Further information:

Bronze Tablet and Wooden Memorial Board

William George Cole Riddle was baptised in St Mary’s Church on 3rd December 1882, the son of Luke Riddle, a labourer, and his wife, Mary Jane, who lived at Milbury Heath. He had at least five sisters. By 1901 the family had moved to Hackett Lane. William was employed as a grocer’s porter. His father was in the Thornbury Union Workhouse where he died in 1902. In 1904 his mother married stonemason George Longden. They lived at Holly Tree Cottage, Grovesend. William gained a number of stepbrothers, a half brother and half sister. In 1911 William was in Blaina, Monmouthshire, working as a platelayer for the Great Western Railway Company. On August 3rd 1915 he married Catherine Alway in Thornbury, giving his occupation as mine labourer. The couple probably lived in or near Abertillery. Catherine died aged 27, at the beginning of 1916

By December 1915 his youngest stepbrother, William Longden, was serving in the South Wales Borderers, 38th Welsh Division. William Riddle enlisted in Abertillery into the same regiment at the end of February 1916, describing himself as a repairer’s assistant in a colliery. As Private 49371 in 3rd Battalion he seems to have undertaken training but then possibly returned to work in the colliery, as he does not seem to have been called to active duty until April 1918. At the end of August he was attached to 15th Battalion but finally embarked for France on 19th September in order to join 10th Battalion, in which his stepbrother was still serving

In the autumn of 1918 the Allies were successfully pushing the enemy back towards the Hindenburg Line, following the German Spring Offensive. On the last day of September William was transferred to 16th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, also in 38th Welsh Division, as Private 93906

In early October the Division faced a strong enemy position at Villers Outreaux. At 1 a.m. on the 8th a night attack was undertaken in the pouring rain. One brigade, with 10th South Wales Borderers including Riddle’s stepbrother William Longden, sought to envelop the village, suffering heavy casualties. During this action the 10th Battalion’s Company Serjeant Major won a Victoria Cross ‘For most conspicuous bravery, initiative and devotion to duty.’ Meanwhile another brigade, with 16th Royal Welsh Fusiliers including William Riddle, attacked through nearby Mortho Wood. The enemy was finally routed but the Division suffered 1,290 casualties and its history notes that 8th October was ‘perhaps the stiffest fighting of the whole advance’

William Riddle was Killed in Action, about 17 days after his arrival in France. Most likely buried at Mortho Wood Cemetery, his grave was probably moved after the war to Bois-Des-Angles British Cemetery. William Longden was killed on the same day and lies about five kilometres away at Guizancourt Farm Cemetery. Their brother James Longden fell in April 1918. All three are remembered on the Thornbury Memorial

By kind permission, this information is based on the following source(s):

Thornbury Roots Website. Thornbury and District Museum Research Group. Forces War Records and the CWGC