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  • Christina Drummond

Second Lieutenant David Moore Riddell, 16th Battalion, The King's (Liverpool Regiment)

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1917, Second Lieutenant David Moore Riddell, of 16th Battalion, The Kings (Liverpool Regiment), died in consequence of wounds received over a year earlier on the Western Front. He had been an engineering student before the Great War, and was the youngest of four siblings. He was wounded in the Capture of Trones Wood, which was fought from the 8th to the 14th of July in 1916, between the British 4th Army and the German 2nd Army, during the Battle of the Somme. The 16th Battalion was formed in December of 1914 at Hoylake, Merseyside, and was a Service battalion until April of 1915 when it became a Reserve battalion.

The British made eight attacks on the enemy, the first seven of which failed due to strong enemy machine gun fire from points along the railway through the wood, which were difficult to capture, and only 14% of British battalions were attacking each day. It was recorded that artillery support was poorly co-ordinated, and very little ground was won. The British were considered to have mainly succeeded, despite poor planning and co-ordination, because the German defensive positions had been overrun and much of the German artillery previously in the area had been destroyed, otherwise the attack was considered to have been potentially disastrous. The British were able to take the wood, suffering nearly 4,000 casualties most of which were injured rather than killed. At the end of this battle all the trees in the wood had been toppled, an eyewitness stating that all that could be seen were tree trunks, barbed wire and human remains. The area was later used for accommodation, and the various battalions’ headquarters were set up there.

Second Lieutenant Riddell was sent home, the hope being that he would eventually recover, but fourteen months after the battle he died from the consequences of his injuries. He is buried in the Belfast City Cemetery. David, From Antrim in Northern Ireland, was 25 years old.

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