3 June 2009

G/1559 Private Edward Plumridge, 8th East Kent Regt (The Buffs)

Medals held:
1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.

Edward Plumridge was a Kitchener volunteer who joined up in early September 1914 and lost his left leg a year later as a result of being wounded at the Battle of Loos. This is his story.

Edward was born at Bradenham, near High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire in 1883. He was the son of Frederick and Sarah Plumridge and when the 1891 census was taken, was living with them in Bradenham. The household comprised, Frederick (head, aged 50, an agricultural labourer), Sarah (aged 40) and four children: Minna Plumridge (aged 11), Gertrude Plumridge (aged nine), Edward (aged seven) and Reginald Plumridge (aged three). The children and their mother had all been born at Bradenham but Frederick is recorded as having been born at Boullen End, Bucks.

Frederick does not appear with the family on the 1881 census but his wife is noted on it as a lace beader and she was living in Bradenham village with her 75 year old widowed father, Thomas Plumridge, and her one year old infant, Minna. Frederick may have been a patient in All Saints Convalescent Hospital, Eastbourne at the time. A married, 42 year old Buckinghamshire-born man by that name was certainly there in 1881, giving his place of birth as Poges and his occupation as railway plate layer.

In any event, by 1901 the family had somewhat dissipated. Sarah is recorded as a 50 year old widow on the census that was taken that year, visiting Henry and Sarah Wooster at their house in Bradenham. Minna had moved to London and was working as a 21 year old nursemaid for solicitor Henry Rawstone and his wife Madeleine in their home at 65 Queen’s Gate, Kensington, and I have been unable to trace Edward, Frederick or Gertrude.

Thankfully, Edward’s army service record survives in the WO 364 pension series so we are able to see that he attested with the East Kent Regiment at Battersea, London on 8th September 1914. He stated his profession as a male attendant at Tooting Bec Asylum and his age was noted as 30 years and 291 days. Edward had a sallow complexion, blue eyes and light brown hair. He was five feet, five and a half inches tall and weighed 132 lbs. Four days later, Edward was posted to the 8th Battalion and promoted lance-corporal at the same time. He then remained in England until 31st August 1915 when he arrived in France, being promoted to corporal on the same day. He would not retain his stripes for very long.

A note on Edward’s service record for 16th September 1915 reads, “In confinement awaiting trial by FGCM [Field General Court Martial]. When on active service disobeying a lawful command given by his superior officer. Sentence guilty. Reduced to the Ranks. Confirmed by Brig Gen commanding 72 Bgde.”

Edward returned to his battalion and was wounded and gassed at the Battle of Loos twelve days later. His service record states G[un shot] W[ound] leg & Gas. Next to the line, Effects of Wounds, is written simply, amputation. Rushed into action on the 26th September after lengthy forced marches, the division suffered terribly at Loos, Edward being one of more than 3,900 casualties.

On 10th October 1915, a telegram was sent from No 5 General Hospital Rouen stating that Edward was dangerously ill and that his relatives should be informed. He recovered sufficiently though to return to England 16 days later on the Hospital Ship George.

Edward would have been a stretcher case and appears to have been taken straight to the 3rd London General Hospital, Wandsworth where he remained until 23rd March 1916. On his discharge from hospital he signed for one ankle boot, one cap, two pairs of woollen drawers, one jacket, one pair of puttees, one pair of service trousers, one waistcoat, one great coat, one kit bag, one pair of braces, one cap comforter, three shirts and three socks.

Edward returned to Bradenham until 14th August 1916 when he was admitted to Roehampton Hospital in London for the fitting of his artificial leg. He appeared before a medical board at The King George Hospital, Stamford Street, south east London (a clerk noting his name incorrectly as Edwin) and he was discharged from the army two weeks later on 7th October. He then appears to have spent time in a convalescent home in Devon (105 Barton Road, St Thomas’s, Exeter) and was certainly at that address on 15th October, writing to the officer in charge of records at Hounslow that he would like a silver war badge. This was duly sent to him (badge number 59999) on 4th December that year.

On 29th October 1916, Edward was awarded a pension of 25/ a week for two months and then 12/6 per week for life. He received his King’s discharge certificate on 22nd July 1918 and on 14th June 1920 was living at 113 Tooting Bec Road, Balham, London SW17.

Edward’s 1914-15 Star is inscribed to G-1559 L-Cpl E Plumridge, E Kent R (indicating that he must have been promoted after he set foot in France). His BWM and VM are inscribed to G-1559 Pte E Plumridge, E Kent R. His silver war badge is not in my possession.

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