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Private Abraham Ridley
10993, 6th Battalion The Border Regiment
Born 17th March 1895, Helton. Died 7th August 1915 Aged 20 at Gallipoli
Son of John and Sarah Ann (nee Broughton) Ridley of Helton, Askam, Ullswater
As a result of the article we were contacted in May 2015 by a relative of Abraham Ridley, who grew up in Helton near Ullswater, and who joined the Border Regiment and tragically died at Gallipoli aged just 20 in August 1915. Here is a summary of his life.
Abraham Ridley was born on the 17th March 1895 in Helton, Askham, near Ullswater and Penrith. His father John was a carpenter and joiner working in Askham at the time of Abraham’s birth. We believe that John had recently married Abraham’s mother Sarah following the detah of his first wife (also called Sarah). John already had four children from his first marriage, sons John, Thomas and William Samuel, and a daughter, Emily. Following the birth of Abraham, John and Sarah Ann had one other child, the wonderfully named Julies Ceasar Ridley, who was born in 1896.
By 1911 16 year old Abraham had left home and was working as a cowman at Little Salkeld, Langwathby. We can’t be sure exactly when Abraham joined up but is likely to have been early on in the War, possibly at the outbreak. He joined the 6th Battalion of the Border Regiment, which was formed at Carlisle in August 1914 as part of Kitcheners New Army and came under the orders of the 33rd Brigade in the 11th (Northern) Division. They trained initially at Belton Park, Grantham, then moved to Frensham in April 1915.
On 30th June 1916 the Battalion, including Abraham, received the “instruction to mobilise for active service”. The very next day at 22.55 they set sail from Liverpool aboard the HMS Empress of Britain. They spent 2 days in Malta refuelling from the 8th to the 10th July before moving on to Alexandria on the 12th July. They finally landed at Helles at 01:00 on the 21st July 1915. The Battalion Diary reports that they disembarked in 3 parties, and eventually got ashore without loss despite initially “two parties (having to) pull back owing to heavy shell fire”. Despite not yet being on the “front line” the Battalion were still under constant fire, and on the 22nd July two men were wounded by shell fire. On the 23rd the Battalion remained in their rear position dug outs (called “rest bivouac” positions in the Battalion Diary), but were again shelled heavily and lost one man killed and one wounded on the night of the 23rd/24th July. On the 25th the Battalion moved to the reserve trenches, taking over from the South Staffords. They remained in the reserve lines until midday on the 27th, when they moved to the front line, relieving the Lincoln Regiment. The next few days were spent repairing the trenches and were relatively quiet. A rather gruesome entry in the Battalion diary for the 29th July gives some idea of the brutality of life in the line.
“During the morning Sergt Gibson and Corpl Wheelwright spotted a man working in a Turkish trench about 200 yards distant, Sergt Gibson shot him, the Turks a few minutes afterwards throwing the body out of the trench along with Rifle Equipment”
The Battalion came out of the line on the night of the 30th July having been relieved by the Lancashire Fusiliers and moved to the rest camp. They remained there until the 6th August. At 17:00 on that day they embarked aboard destroyers bound for Suvla Bay (mis-
“At Dawn Battalion had not reached appointed position and dug itself in behind Lala Baba -
Tragically it seems that the “1 killed” in the initial shelling that morning of the 7th August 1915 at Suvla Bay was Private Abraham Ridley. He was just 20 years old and had been in Gallipoli for just over 2 weeks. It seems Abraham’s body was never recovered as he is one of the over 21,000 names recorded on the Helles Memorial. The Helles Memorial serves the dual function of Commonwealth battle memorial for the whole Gallipoli campaign and place of commemoration for many of those Commonwealth servicemen who died there and have no known grave.
Abraham’s death was reported in The Herald along with his photo on the 4th September 1915. The paper incorrectly stated he’d died on the 8th rather than the 7th of August, but noted “the young man’s death is much regretted for although he had not yet reached his twenty-
In fact we know that Abraham’s elder brother William Samuel Ridley served with distinction throughout the war, ending it as a Sergeant 6th Cavalry Field Ambulance of the 576th Company of the Royal Army Service Corps. He had enlisted in January 1915 in Penrith. He served in France and Belgium and was wounded in the shoulder on 8th August 1918. He was eventually demobbed in June 1919. William (Billy) Ridley returned to Helton, where he lived until his death at Alma House in 1949 at the age of 60. He became a famous breeder of Lakeland Terriers and was a good friend of Braithwaite Wilson, Master of the Ullswater Foxhounds after the war. Billy was also a regular at the annual Patterdale Dog Day (see article on him below supplied by his family).
Abraham’s younger brother, Julius Ceasar Ridley, also served in the War. He enlisted in the Royal North Lancashire Regiment on the 26th June 1918, and was wounded in action in September that year -
In terms of the rest of Abraham’s family, we believe his father John died in August 1921. His mother Sarah Ann died in January 1937 in Askham. We are grateful to Mal who contacted us and provided us with the information and photos. If you can add anything to the story of Abraham or his family please contact us.
The HMS Empress of Britain on which Abraham sailed for Helles above and below the scene at Suvla Bay during the landings of August 1915.
The Helles Memorial above and below Abraham’s picture in the Herald in September 1915.
An Article in Countryman’s Weekly on Billy Ridley, Abraham’s Brother, kindly shared by his family.
Below is a copy of the Battalion diary including the entry for the date of Abraham’s death on the 7th August.
Private Abraham Ridley’s Medal Index Card