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26th Jun, 2022

Redditch soldiers who met their fate at the Front and as prisoners of war

Ross Crawford 11th Jun, 2018

THIS week we remember three soldiers from Redditch who died on consecutive days, June 4, 5, and 6, 100 years ago this week.

The Germans had launched the third phase of their Spring Offensive, Operation Blucher-Yorck on May 27, which had initially swept the Allies aside on a 37 mile front in an area where British and French soldiers had been recuperating from battle.

Their intention was one last great bid to reach Paris before the American Expeditionary Force got up to strength.

However by June 6 their offensive had been halted on the banks of the River Marne.

The losses in just ten days of fighting saw the French suffer nearly 100,000 casualties, the British just under 30,000 while German losses were of a similar combined total.

Frederick Heath was the middle son of Charles and Eliza Heath, and was born in 1894.

His father was a fish hook maker but had died by the 1911 census by which time Frederick is recorded as working on the press of a needle factory.

The family lived at 119 St Georges Road in Redditch.

He served with the 1/6th Battalion the South Staffordshire Regiment and died of his wounds on June 4, 1918.

He is buried in the Pernes British Cemetery in France, and is remembered today on the St George’s War Memorial in Redditch.

Henry Bridge was a married father of three when he too died of his wounds aged 36.

Born in Wednesbury in 1884, he was the youngest son of John and Sarah Bridge and grew up in Walsall.

In 1905 he married his sweetheart Catherine and the couple found a home at 65 Evesham Road, Redditch.

Henry worked as a shoeing smith but with the war raging, he joined the Royal Garrison Artillery.

He died on June 5, 1918 and is buried in the Gwalia Cemetery, Belgium and is remembered today on The Bridge War Memorial.

Little is known of Fred Andrews other than he was born in Redditch and enlisted in the town.

He served in the 8th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment, a unit which suffered badly during the first attack of the Spring Offensive on March 21.

It is possible he was among hundreds of British soldiers captured in that attack and transported back to Germany.

He died of his wounds on June 6, 1918 and is buried in Niederzwehren Cemetery near the German city of Kassel, and is remembered today on the St Stephen’s War Memorial in Redditch town centre.

With thanks to: Remembering Redditch’s Fallen Heroes.

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