Poppy In memoriam Poppy

Private John Edward Riddell

 

Riddell 2

 

Riddell 1

 

John Edward (Eddie) Riddell was born on 1 August 1897 at 3 Dunluce Street, Portrush, the fourth of seven children of post-car owner John Riddell and his wife Mary Ann (formerly Stinson). Between 1890 and 1897 his parents had lived in America, where two of his older siblings were born. By 1915 Riddell was working as a clerk for potato merchant Mr S.O. Moore of Coleraine.

Riddell enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Ballymoney on 25 May 1915 (No.1603), giving his age as 19 years 60 days (in fact he was not yet 18). He embarked for France on 11 January 1916 with E Squadron.

After a month in hospital with a "poisoned hand", on 29 May Riddell was posted to A Squadron, which had just been brought together with A and D Squadrons to form the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to VII Corps. On 4 August 1916 he returned to E Squadron.

On 1 November Riddell was detached for duty to the No.4 German Prisoner of War Camp. He was still there three months later, when he was awarded 7 days Field Punishment No.1 for "quitting camp when under medical treatment" and "using highly obscene and insolent language to an NCO". At some stage after this he returned to the 1st North Irish Horse.

Riddell was allowed leave to the UK from 2 to 11 August 1917. At that time the 2nd North Irish Horse received orders to disband, with the men, and some surplus to the needs of the 1st Regiment, to be transferred to the infantry. Riddell was one of those from the 1st Regiment transferred. After a brief period of training at the 36th (Ulster) Division's Infantry Base Depot at Harfleur he was transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers on 20 September and soon after was posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion. He was issued regimental number 41403.

In November and December 1917 the 9th Battalion played a role in the Battle of Cambrai, first going into action in the attack on the village of Moeuvres on 22-23 November. The battalion war diary for those days reads as follows:

[22 November] The Battn moved up at 6.30 a.m. to a position N. of Bapaume & Cambrai Road arriving at 8.30 a.m. Here the Battn waited for an order to attack Inchi when Moeuvres was taken by the 12th Royal Irish Rifles. At 11.45 a.m. the 12th R. Ir. Rifles captured village of Moeuvres. It was unable to clear trenches East of village. At 5.30 p.m. Battn moved up to support 12th R. Ir. Rifles in the village of Moeuvres. At 5.45 p.m. 12th R. Ir. Rifles reported driven out of village. At 8.30 p.m. Battn less 'D' Coy counter attacked village of Moeuvres but was driven back to trenches immediately south of the village, where it took up a defensive position for the night.

[23 November] Battn attacked Moeuvres at 10.30 a.m. At 11 a.m. Battn reported in village. At 11.45 a.m. enemy counter attacked from trenches West of village. 12.15 p.m. counter attack driven off. At 4.30 .p.m village evacuated by Battn on account of supports not coming up. 5 p.m. 'C' & 'D' Coys took up position on Sunken Road South of village and 'A' & 'B' Coys went back to trenches North of Bapaume & Cambrai Road.

... Casualties for 22nd & 23rd: Officers killed 1. Officers wounded 6. ORs 82 casualties.

Riddell was one of the 82 casualties – wounded in the right thigh. He was evacuated to England on 5 December. After he recovered he joined the 10th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers, before returning to France on 12 April 1918, rejoining the 9th Battalion in the field at Kemmel ten days later.

On the night of 2/3 August C Company and a platoon of D Company from the 9th Battalion went out on a working party near Meulenhouck. By the end of the night two had been killed and four wounded, presumably by enemy artillery. Riddell was one of those who lost his life. He was buried at Bertenacre Military Cemetery, Fletre, France, grave I.C.7. His gravestone inscription reads:

41403 PRIVATE
J. E. RIDDELL
ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS
3RD AUGUST 1918 AGE 21

AS I LIVE
YE SHALL LIVE ALSO

 

Riddell 3

 

Ballywillan New Graveyard, Portrush

 

 

Portrush War Memorial

 

Images of Bertenacre Cemetery and Portrush War memorial Copyright © Phillip Tardif with all rights reserved as set out in this Use of Material policy. Image of Private Riddell from Robert Thompson's Portrush Heroes 1914-1918. Image from Ballywillan kindly provided by Nigel Henderson, Researcher at History Hub Ulster.