Rank: Private 18701
Regiment: 2nd Bn., Devonshire Regiment
Died: died 1 July 1916
Newton Poppleford War Memorial
Other Memorial: Thiepval Memorial [Google]
PDF Download: RIDGEWAY or RIDGWAY Ernest
The Army spelled it Ridgeway but then probably neither the recruiting sergeant nor Ernest were very good at spelling, so we have to accept both versions.
Ernest was born in 1887 which made him, from his fellow soldiers’ point of view, an old man, when he enlisted in Newton Poppleford at the age of 28. The temporary recruiting station in the village was probably in the Village hall.
The only family of Ridg(e)way shown in the available village records is a Fred and Rosina Ridgway; he was born in Honiton and she in Newton Poppleford. Ernest is shown in the 1901 and 1911 census records as being born in Exeter and living in their household in Newton Poppleford. He is shown as a general labourer (despite the fact that in 1901 he was only 14 years old).
He does not appear to be their son so we have to assume that he may have been a nephew. In the 1891 census he is shown, at the age of four, to be living in the household of a Sarah Ann Bamsey who is recorded as without an occupation and with no husband. She appears to be looking after five children aged one, two, four and 13 years of age, possibly at the parish’s expense. Maybe Ernest was an orphan. Tracing him is made more difficult because he is one of those in the British army whose records were lost due to enemy action in 1941.
Again we can see that to Ernest, the idea of joining the Army seemed like an adventure, and a way of improving his life. He enlisted in 2nd Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment. He was killed in action on 1 July 1916 and it is stated that his name is on the memorial at Thiepval on the Somme. This almost certainly means that he is among the 72,000 soldiers of the British Isles and the Commonwealth who have no known grave.
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