Poppy Charles Edward Ridgway BRIDSON (1890–1916) Poppy

See also Charles’s younger brother, John Paul Ridgway Bridson

Charles Bridson
Charles Bridson shortly
before his death
© St Edward’s School Archives

Charles Edward Ridgway Bridson was born in Chelmsford, Essex on 13 July 1890, the son of Edward Ridgway Bridson (born in Bolton, Lancashire in 1864) and Amy Ridgway Bridson (a British citizen born in Valetta, Malta on 30 August 1864, the daughter of Lieutenant William Paul Bridson and Beatrice Anne Bridson).

Charles’s grandfather was Thomas Ridgway Bridson, the Mayor of Bolton.

His parents (who had the same Ridgway Bridson surname and were probably second cousins) were married at Cuckfield Sussex on 29 September 1888. They had seven children, all of whom reached adulthood:

  • Amy Mary Ridgway Bridson (born in Chelmsford, Essex on 28 June 1889 and baptised there on 27 July 1889)
  • Charles Edward Ridgway Bridson (born in Chelmsford, Essex on 13 July 1890)
  • Beatrice Mary Ridgway Bridson (born in Summertown, near Oxford in 1892, registered with her twin Cicely second quarter)
  • Cicely Mary Ridgway Bridson (twin of Beatrice)
  • Dorothea Mary Ridgway Bridson (born in Southport, Lancashire in 1895, registered fourth quarter)
  • John Paul Ridgway Bridson (born in Southport, Lancashire in 1896, registered fourth quarter)
  • Thomas William Ridgway Bridson (born in Oxford in 1910).

Charles’s parents evidently began their married life in Chelmsford, Essex, but by the time of the 1891 census they had moved to 3 Crick Road, Oxford, where they had four servants (a cook, housemaid, nurse, and under-nurse). Charles was then just eight months old, and his father (26) was described as living on his own means.

By 1895 the family had moved up to Lancashire, and in the 1901 census the family is shown living in a house called “Wolvercote” in Bolton with three servants. Charles (curiously recorded as something that looks like “Ainslie”, perhaps a mistranscription of “Charlie”) was then ten, and his father (36) was now an electrical engineer. He attended Bolton School until the age of about ten.

The Bridson family

Charles Ridgway Bridson joined St Edward’s School in the Christmas Term of 1904. He was in the school’s Rowing Eight and the Second Eleven Rugby. He left school in 1909, and went up to St John’s College, Oxford. He was a member of the University Contingent of the Officers’ Training Corps.

By 1906 Charles’s father had retired and brought his family to live at Staverton House, 104 Woodstock Road in St Margaret’s parish, where they are listed in the 1911 census. They were looked after by a cook, parlour maid, between maid, sewing maid, and housemaid). Five of their children were home on census night; but Charles (20) spent census night in Staines with his older sister Amy and his brother-in-law, Evan Gabriel Burrough (who described himself as “Priest of the English Catholic Church”). Charles appears to have left university without a degree, as his occupation is described simply as “Private Means”.

 

Left: The Bridson family, except for Amy. Charles is the young man immediately in front of his parents at the back

Charles’s family remained at 104 Woodstock Road until 1916 (when the mother of Kenneth Morland, who died later in the war, moved in).

After leaving university he joined the regular army immediately and was commissioned in the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion of the King’s Own Lancaster Regiment as a Second Lieutenant. He obtained his Aviator’s Certificate from the Royal Aero Club on 20 December 1913.

Charles Bridson and his brother John
Charles Bridson (right) with his younger brother John

Poppy When war broke out, Charles Ridgway Bridson was rapidly promoted to Captain in the 3rd Battalion (attached to 8th Battalion) of the King’s Own (Royal Lancaster) Regiment.

He gained his aviator’s certificate in a Bristol Biplane at the Bristol School, Brooklands on 20 December 1914. He was trained on his Box Kite by Frederick Warren Merriam (later immortalized in Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines).

He was wounded in 1914 at the Battle of the Marne (reported in The Times of 20 October). In early 1915 he was mentioned in despatches in 1915 (reported in The Times of 18 February), and then wounded again, this time at Le Touquet (reported in The Times on 24 February 1915). He then was hospitalised at Rouen with enteritis – the result of “trench work” when he rescued some colleagues from a mine crater, rendering himself “insensible” for six hours due to gas.

 

Charles Ridgway Bridson died in Belgium at the age of 25 on 4 April 1916 from wounds received in action at St Eloi, when he was trying to clear a German unit from a mine crater.

 

Left Crater No. 5. This photograph, taken by Charles’s nephew Paul in September 2008, is the crater in St Eloi that Charles was attacking when he was fatally wounded (crater traced from the original trench maps and various pieces of family and regimental information).

Charles Bridson's grave

Charles Bridson was buried at the Reninghelst New Military Cemetery (I.A.15). The photograph of his grave (left) was kindly supplied by his nephew Paul Bridson. The text reads:

[Emblem of the King’s Own]

CAPTAIN
C. E. R. BRIDSON
ROYAL LANCASTER REGIMENT
4TH APRIL 1916   AGE 25

LORD, ALL PITYING, JESU BLEST
GRANT HIM THINE ETERNAL REST
AMEN

This is one of the 40% of war graves that bears a personal message at the end (for which the family had to pay 3½d per letter).

Memorial to Charles Bridson in St John's College

Charles Bridson is also remembered in stone on the wall of the cloisters of his Oxford college, St John’s (right).

He is also remembered at Bolton School, and he and his brother John are both listed on the memorial of St Bartholomew’s Church, London and on the war memorial at Lee Bay, near Ilfracombe, where the family had a holiday home.

Plaque dedicated to Charles Bridson in St Edward's School

Charles Bridson is also remembered in the chapel of St Edward’s School (left).

His death notice in The Times of 12 April 1916 reads: “BRIDSON.—Died of wounds, on 4th April, Capt. Charles Edward R. Bridson, King’s Own (Royal Lancaster) Regt., dearly-beloved eldest son of Edward and Amy Ridgway Bridson, aged 25 years. R.I.P.”

Administration (with Will) was granted in London to his father, Edward Ridgway Bridson, on 3 February 1917. He left £898 11s. 5d.

Charles’s younger brother John had been killed in action in France the previous autumn, on 25 September 1915. Both brothers are remembered on the war memorial outside St Margaret’s Church in north Oxford and on the memorial board of Saint Silas the Martyr, Kentish Town, London. There is a stained-glass window in St Margaret’s Church showing three saints, with the following text below: “To the greater glory of God and in ever-loving memory of two dearly loved sons, Charles Edward Ridgway Bridson, Captain, and John Paul Ridgway Bridson, 2nd Lieutenant, who gave their lives for King and country in the Great War”.

The two family photographs on this page were provided by Paul Bridson, the nephew of Charles and John.


St Margaret's Church War Memorial

After the War

Charles’s parents’ address was given as 5 St Margaret’s Road, Oxford in the 1920s.

Charles Ridgway Bridson’s one surviving brother
  • Thomas William Ridgway Bridson (born 1910) joined St Edward’s School in the Summer Term of 1922. He left in 1929 and went up to Oxford (Keble College), but does not appear to have completed his degree: he married Evelyn M. Cousins in the fourth quarter of 1930 in the Oxford Registration District. He was a Chartered Surveyor in Seaton, Devon 1935–39. During the Second World War he was a Major (plus acting Lieutenant Colonel) in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps. He lived at 114 Sharps Lane, Ruislip, Middlesex, where his first wife died in 1968. On 10 February 1971 he married his second wife, Jennifer Mary Robins, at Wenhaston Church, Suffolk, and they had two sons. In 1974 they moved to Kelsale, Suffolk. Thomas Bridson died on 5 October 1988.
Charles Ridgway Bridson’s three sisters
  • Amy Mary Ridgway Bridson (born 1889) married Evan Gabriel Burrough, a Clerk in Holy Orders of Staines, at St Margaret’s Church on 7 January 1911. They had two sons: Evan Jerome Ridgway Bridson and (John) Paul Ridgway Bridson; the latter was Bishop of Mashonaland (Rhodesia) from 1968 to 1981 and died on 27 January 2003.
  • Beatrice Mary Ridgway Bridson (born 1892) married John Fisher MacMichael (Superintendant of Traffic, North-West Railway, India and currently staying at Lee, Devon) on 16 November 1915 at St Margaret’s Church
  • Dorothea Mary Ridgway Bridson (born 1895) married Lieutenant Charles Crawford Bradshaw of The Vicarage, South Farnborough at St Margaret’s Church on 1 January 1916. They had their son Thomas Crawford Bridson baptised there on 25 March 1917: they were then living at 10 Lathbury Road.
Charles Ridgway Bridson’s famous relation
  • Mary Augusta Ridgway Bridson (b. 1886) was the second cousin of Charles’s mother Amy (whose maiden name as well as her married name was also Ridgway Bridson). Mary was a dancer (stage-name Celia Ridgway), and she and her third husband Charles Parsons (stage-name Jimmy Lynton) were the parents of Leo Parsons, who was brought up by James Blair, a shipyard worker at Clydeside, and his wife Mary. Leo Parsons changed his surname to Blair by deed poll, and his son was the future Prime Minister Tony Blair.

See also


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