© Avening Parish Council 2023
“Preserve, Conserve, Enhance”
4 Herbert J Bridgeman
Private: 1st Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment
Herbert John Bridgeman was born in 1895 but was called "John" throughout his short life. He was
born in the cottage attached to Avening Mill, where his father was the miller.
John's early life was in family history turmoil and a description of his home on the 1901 census tells
all. In the home on Tetbury Hill lived his mother, aged 33, and his 54 year old stepfather, William
Neale, (to whom she had been recently married), a stepbrother aged 18, a mentally handicapped
half-sister aged 23, a half-brother aged 14 and an elder sister (8) and younger brother (3). At some
time before 1911 they moved to Nags Head. John’s occupation was described in the 1911 census as
“Help in Stables”.
Early in 1913 John enlisted in the Gloucestershire Regiment and was posted to the 1st Battalion
prior to a move to the British Expeditionary Force on 11th November 1914. As a member of that
battalion he found himself at Neuve Chapelle area of France on the 1st of May 1915.
From the War Diaries we learn that that day was spent on a route march and on Sunday the 2nd, a
church parade was held. The following day there was a billet inspection followed by yet another
move of billets, this time to Les Choquaux which was completed by 5.30 pm. The new billets were
very dirty hence the 4th of May was spent cleaning up followed by some indoor training. The 5th of
May was taken up by training for wood fighting and they rested on the 6th with a regimental concert
taking place in the evening.
They were on the move again on the 7th, this time moving billets to Lannoy which were finally
occupied at midnight.
The following day they recuperated from the previous day's move but paraded at 6.30 pm and
marched to an area called "Windy Corner" which they reached at 11.30 pm. They occupied trenches
at Rue Du Bois and spent the night drawing bombs, respirators and rations.
At 7 am on Sunday the 9th of May, following an intense bombardment by our artillery, the battalion
went over the parapet. The War Diaries state: "C and B Companies were not in good line as they had
to be extricated from the men of other Corps who were crowded in the trenches. The line went on
till it was held up by very severe machine gun fire which started immediately our bombardment
ceased. The remainder came out and gradually formed a line about 40 yards in front of our line
whence no advance was possible. Here the line remained till ordered to retire. C Company lost
about 60 men."
The battalion then withdrew to the lines behind the Rue Du Bois and the CO received orders to
attack again at 2.40 pm. This was then delayed until 4 pm. The War Diaries: "Directly our
bombardment ceased, hostile machine gun fired heavily. D Company suffered severely while
crossing the parapet, A Company not severely. All the officers and nearly all the NCOs and men of D
Company were killed or wounded. The Company advanced until they had gone about 120 yards
forward. Here they were held up. A Company did not get so far before being stopped."
During this period, enemy artillery fire was also brought to bear on "no man's land" causing further
misery to the battalion. The retirement was ordered by Divisional HQ and the battalion withdrew to
The losses were 263 men of which John Bridgeman was one. He has no known grave but is
remembered on Le Touret Memorial. He was just 19 years of age and was unmarried. He was
awarded the 1914 Star, the Victory Medal and the British Medal, which his relatives would have
received in 1922. We have not yet been able to contact any descendant relatives.