Private Percy Bridger

Percy Bridger © Dorking Advertiser. British Library

Thank you to Jane Anthony for this research.

Private Percy Bridger was born in 1887, one of nine children born to Edwin and Sarah Bridger. Edwin was born in Forest Green and Sarah in Billingshurst. The family lived at King Georges Hill, Wotton. All the children were born in Abinger. In 1911 Edwin was working as a farm labourer, possibly at Lemon’s Farm, as was his son Percy.

Of the nine children, five were girls and six were boys. The girls worked as maids and the boys in manual labour. The eldest son, Edwin did not fight in the war, as he was born in 1878,  he was possibly too old for active service. The second son Alfred James had married and was living in Holmbury St Mary. Alfred was killed in action aged 39 in 1917. The other brothers William Ernest, Arthur and Albert Henry all fought in the war; like Alfred James they served in the Queens Own Royal West Surrey Regiment.

There is every reason to fear that Pte. Percy Bridger, Royal Sussex Regt, reported missing on Sept 21st, was actually killed on that date. Hopes were held out by the receipt of a letter from Sergt. Mayes, who writing to Bridger’s fiancee, on Oct 24th, said: “I have made all possible inquiries among his comrades, but have so far been unable to gain any definite information. The last time he was seen by any of us was on the 21st of last month, when he went with a bombing party to help re-take a bit of trench. Although I should hate to raise false hopes, I think I am justified in assuring you that there is every chance of his being alive and well, though a prisoner. The ground over which the fighting was done on that day has long since been passed by our men, and has in all probability been cleared up, so if the worst had happened you or his mother would most certainly have had official news before now of his death. One can only hope he is either in hospital, and through some clerical error has not been reported, or that he is alive and well, but a prisoner in Germany. I rather incline to the latter view myself, as I know for sure that other men were captured that day. If this is the case you will hear from him before long, and I should not worry too much or allow hi mother to. Now that the days of reckoning is drawing near, I don’t think the Germans will dare treat our men too bad. Allow me, in conclusion….

Percy Bridger Roll of Honour © Dorking Advertiser. British Library

…. to assure you how deeply I and all the boys of No. 2 platoon sympathise with you and his mother, and how earnestly we hope that the loss is only a temporary one. Meanwhile, all of us feel the loss of a good comrade. Pte. Bridger was well liked by all. He was one of those quiet, dependable chaps who can always be relied upon to do their duty cherrfully and well under no matter what circumstances. His loss is keenly felt, and we shall look forward hopefully to hearing some good news about him in the early future.” Pte. Bridger has since been officially reported killed, He is the fifth son of Mrs. Bridger of King George’s Hill, Wotton, and had been three years in the Army. He was very severely wounded in the head in the first battle of the Somme, and has since been serving in Palestine, where he saw hard fighting, returning to Fance in May of this year. Mrs. Bridger lost her second son, Pte. Alfred James Bridger, Royal West Surrey Regt in June 1917, and she has two other sons still serving.

Percy Bridger Death Notice © Dorking Advertiser. British Library

Percy was the fifth of the six brothers and unlike them he served in the Queens Royal West Sussex Regiment( G/18055). He died aged 30 on 21st September 1918 and left £26 and a war grant to Sarah, presumably his mother. He was buried at Hargicourt Communal Cemetery Extension.

Born Abinger, Surrey
Lived Wotton, Surrey
Son of Edwin and Sarah Bridger of King George’s Hill, Wotton
Brother of Alfred James Bridger
Regiment 16th Battalion. Royal Sussex Regiment
Number G/18055
Date of Death 21st September 1918
Place of Death France
Cause of Death Killed in action
Age 30
Cemetery Hargicourt Communal Cemetery Extension, Aisne, France
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