George Simeon Ridgewell was born and raised in Chelmsford. Before the war he was an apprentice at the Chelmsford hardware dealers Gripper & Son. He joined the army in 1915 and died in November 1918, from pneumonia following influenza. He had been taken ill on Armistice Day. His home was in New Street.
RIDGEWELL, GEORGE SIMEON,
Sapper, 106th Field Company, Royal Engineers (formerly of the Welsh Regiment)
George jjoined the army in 1915 and served as Private 203680 in the Welsh Regiment. He died from pneumonia on 22nd November 1918 having transferred to become Sapper 530141 in the 106th Field Company of the Royal Engineers, part of the army’s 5th Division. He is buried at Busigny Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord, France (grave: VIII. C. 3).
On 24th September 1915 the Essex County Chronicle reported:
“Geo. Simeon Ridgewell. R.E., youngest son of Mr. L. M. Ridgewell, baker, New St., Chelmsford, died in France on Nov. 18 from pneumonia, following influenza, after 11 days’ Illness. Deceased, who was 20 years of age on November 14th, had been serving for three and half years, and for the last year and a half had been in France. He was an apprentice with Messrs. J. Gripper, Ltd., when he joined up. Another son is serving.
George is commemorated on the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford and by the Chelmsford Parish Great War Memorial in Chelmsford Cathedral. He was entitled to the British War Medal and Victory Medal.
The 1918 register of electors listed George’s parents still at 10 New Street. His mother died in 1938, aged 72, and three years later his father married again, to Myra A. Ellison.
George’s father died on 9th October 1943, aged 81.
George was born in Chelmsford on 14th November 1898, the youngest son of the baker Lewis Moses Ridgewell and Rose Ridgewell (nee Ellis). His father had been born in 1862 in Purleigh and ran a baker’s business in New Street for more than forty years. His
mother was born in 1865 in Chignall St. James. The couple had married in 1881. In 1891 they had been living at 1 Hawthorn Terrace, New Writtle Street, Chelmsford.
George’s four siblings, all Chelmsford-born, included Charles Henry Ridgewell (1881-1969), Lily Ridgewell (1884-1970), and Albert Lewis Ridgewell (1891-1967). A fourth sibling died in infancy.
The 1901 census found two year-old George living with his parents, two siblings, his grandfather and a servant at 10 New Street, Chelmsford. His father was baker and shop keeper along with George’s sister and grandfather. A decade later 12 year-old George, his parents, brother Albert and sister Lily (plus a boarder) were still living at 10 New Street where George’s father and brother were bakers. 10 New Street stood on the northern corner of the junction of New Street with Legg Street - the location is now part of the site of Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court.
George’s grandfather lived to be 85 and died in 1914. Prior to joining the army George was an apprentice for the Chelmsford High Street-based hardware dealers Messrs. Gripper & Son.