William Woodbridge

Stop number WHITE 9: Continue to walk along this side and after the forth tree look for the memorial plaque for William Woodbridge on the second tier of graves.
 Memorial plaque
Memorial plaque
Read his story below and when you are ready to move on click on the dot/circle for A Worley.
Memorial for William Woodbridge Woodbridge
Memorial for William Woodbridge Woodbridge factory(SWOP MHW35259)


William Woodbridge 1893-1916

My name is William Woodbridge, although everyone called me Will. I was born in 1893 in High Wycombe and we originally lived in Mendy Street near the Rose and Crown, where Ralph Coltman lived.

My grandfather set up a furniture factory in Wycombe. My father, Arthur, was a partner in the business, which made chairs. The factory was originally in Denmark Street, which is where the Eden Centre is now, although we did get some bigger premises in Desborough Park Road later on. Around the same time as the move to the new factory, we moved away from Newlands to Kitchener Road. The house is still there today.

I had three brothers and a sister and my brothers and I had little choice but to join the family firm! In 1912 my father died, still a relatively young man. I was then made a partner in the firm.

Apart from work I loved playing sport and was proficient at football and cricket. I played football for Wycombe Generals F.C. and cricket, as a batsman, for Newlands Methodist Church. In 1910, when I was 17, I was a member of the triumphant Wycombe Generals team that won the Maidenhead Boys’ League.

In September 1914, a month after the outbreak of the war, I decided to sign up into the 1st Bucks Battalion. The battalion was made up of lots of Wycombe men. However, while training at Chelmsford, I was transferred to the South Midlands Cycling Corps. Our job was to deliver messages as we could move quickly and the Belgians had shown how effective soldiers on bikes could be. But it turned out that in the heavy mud in Northern France and Belgium cycling was near impossible so most of the Cycling Corps stayed in England but I was assigned back to my old battalion as a cyclist/messenger.

We were sent to the Somme in June and at first were kept in reserve. Our time came on the night of the 17th/18th July as we were ordered to carry out a reconnaissance of certain points in the enemy’s line between Ovillers and Pozieres. We didn’t know the exact enemy positions and how strongly they were held. If these were not strongly occupied, we were to take them, but heavy fighting was not to be undertaken. We advanced in two lines with a point patrol immediately in front. After about 400 yards we found the enemy and, although their trenches were strongly held, we did manage to surprise and take one of their strong points. But we were ordered to withdraw after daybreak. Four men were killed during the attack and 29 were injured, including me. It was a very dark night and it took a long time before I was found and evacuated to a dressing station.

It was daylight when the move back started, as the evacuation of the wounded had taken some time. I was taken back to a military hospital in Puchevillers where, two days later on the 20th, I died. Even though I am buried there at Puchevillers British Cemetery in the Somme, I am remembered with my family here in High Wycombe cemetery. I was 22 when I died.
William Woodbridge researched and performed by Eli McHale
William Woodbridge researched and performed by Eli McHale
To see the performance on YouTube click here.


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