49040 PTE. T. RYDING. R.A.M.C.
Thomas Ryding was born on 30 October 1893 in Bamber Bridge and baptised at St Aidan’s on 9 November. His father was Christopher Ryding (b. 1851 in Brindle), a cotton weaver. His mother was Mary King (b. 1851 in Livesey, near Blackburn). Christopher and Mary were married in Feniscowles in 1877. Mary was previously married to John Waddington (b. 1849 in Feniscowles) and they had a son, Robert (b. 1874), but John died in 1875 and Mary remarried two years later. Christopher and Mary had seven children, but two died young: Maria (b. 1878), Ann Eliza (b. 1880), James Arthur (1882-85), James Arthur Ernest (b. 1885), Grace Ellen (1888-1893), Florence (b. 1890) and finally Thomas. In 1911, Christopher and Mary were living with their two youngest children at 49 Station Road, Bamber Bridge. Tom was a cotton weaver. Mary died later that year.
Tom joined up at the outbreak of War. He joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and was assigned service number 49040 and posted to 72nd Field Ambulance. A Field Ambulance was a mobile front line medical unit (it was not a vehicle!), manned by troops of the Royal Army Medical Corps. Most Field Ambulances came under command of a Division, and each had special responsibility for the care of casualties of one of the Brigades of the Division. The theoretical capacity of the Field Ambulance was 150 casualties, but in battle they would need to deal with much higher numbers. 72nd Field Ambulance was attached to 24th Division. Tom landed with the Division in France on 2 September 1915. The Division was then engaged in the Battle of Loos, where it suffered severe casualties. In 1916, they suffered the German gas attack at Wolverghem and then moved to the Somme, where they saw action in the Battle of Delville Wood and the Battle of Guillemont. In 1917, they were in action at the Battle of Vimy Ridge in the spring and in the Battle of Messines in June.
In April 1917, 72 Field Ambulance was based at Labeuvrière supporting the Division during the Battle of Vimy Ridge (9 April) and at the end of the month they moved to Delettes then in May to Boeseghem and then on to Godewaersvelde and finally to Brandhoek on 13 May. They were here when the Battle of Messines opened on 7 June. On 17 June, the War Diary records: “Very heavy shelling. Railways almost impassable, nearly all cases have to be hand carried. Bearers very exhausted. ADMS asked to supply a relief, all my bearers being in the line. Casualties today, killed OR 6, wounded 16.” Tom Ryding was among the dead. He was 22 years old.
Service Number: 49040
Date of Death: 17/06/1917
Regiment/Service: Royal Army Medical Corps, 72nd Field Ambulance
Cemetery/memorial reference: III. B. 41.
Cemetery: DICKEBUSCH NEW MILITARY CEMETERY EXTENSION
Additional Information: Son of Christopher and Mary Ryding, of 1 School Lane, Walton-le-Dale, Preston.
Tom’s brother, James Arthur Ernest Ryding, also served in the Army. However, he had moved away from Bamber Bridge sometime after the 1901 Census. In 1908, in Prescott, he married Annie Bell (b. 1885 in Ditton). Annie already had a son, John James (born 1905, out of wedlock). In 1911, they were living at 5 Orrell Street, St Helens. James was a furnace fireman in a chemical works. He initially served with the 55th West Lancashire Divisional Cyclist Company, but he transferred to the Durham Light Infantry, with whom he served through the War as 52944 Sergeant J. A. E. Ryding.