Born in Redhill, Surrey, the birth being registered in the third quarter, William’s parents were William Alfred Berridge and his wife Beatrice, nee Campion. He was christened on 20th September 1894.
Educated at Sunningdale School and Eton College before going up to Oxford, where he joined the Officers’ Training Corps, William was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant into the 6th Battalion the Somerset Light Infantry. He was posted to the Western Front in March 1916. During an attack on Hop Alley near Delville Wood, he was shot by a German sniper on 19th August and died of his wounds on 20th August 1916. He was buried in Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt-l’Abbe, France.
At the time of his death, William’s family were living in Folkestone, Kent. His collection of WW1 poems “Verses” was published in 1916.
To a Rat
Caught on a piece of wire in a communications trench 4.45 a.m. April 1916
Was it for this you came into the light?
Have you fulfilled Life’s mission? You are free
For evermore from toil and misery,
Yet those who snared you, to their great delight,
Thought doubtless they were doing right
In scheming to encompass your decease,
Forgetting they were bringing you to peace
And perfect joy and everlasting night.
Your course is ended here — I know not why
You seemed a loathsome, a pernicious creature;
You couldn’t clothe us and we couldn’t eat yer,
And so we mocked your humble destiny —
Yet life was merry, was it not, oh rat?
It must have been to one so sleek and fat.
Someone has translated William’s poem To a Rat into Portuguese, which I feel sure would amuse William: