FRANCIS EDMUND LANGTON RIDDLE was serving as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 2nd Battalion, The Oxfordshire and Buckingham Light Infantry when he was killed in action on the 16th May 1915 during the Battle of Festubert. He was aged 21 and is commemorated on Le Touret Memorial in the Pas-de-Calais region for soldiers with no known grave

Francis Riddle was born on the 10th June 1893 at Tadmarton Rectory the second son of the Reverend Arthur Riddle and his wife Edith. He had an elder brother Arthur a younger brother Gerald and a younger sister Annie. He attended Bloxham School between 1903 and 1911 and was a first rate athlete winning the school sports competition in 1910 and 1911, and a member of the Officer Training Corps, below.

He was gazetted as a 2nd Lieutenant in the special reserve of officers Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry on 1st October 1913 and commissioned into 2nd Battalion on the 1st September 1914. He served as an assistant recruiting officer at Cowley Barracks for two months before embarking for France on the 25th November 1914. Apart from a period of leave in March 1915 he was in and out of the trenches continuously that winter.On the 16th May 1915 he was called in as a replacement officer during the Battle of Festubert, arriving at 0800.

The Battle of Festubert was an action in the Artois region of France by the British First Army under General Sir Douglas Haig between 15th May and 25th May 1915. It was part of a larger French offensive to secure the town of Arras. The attack was made against a German salient between Neuve Chapelle and the village of Festubert. The battle was preceded by a 60 hour bombardment by 433 artillery pieces which fired over 100,000 shells. However the bombardment failed to significantly damage the German defences partly as there were no high explosives available and many shells were duds. At 23:30 on the night of the 15th May the front line platoons left their trenches and attacked German positions across no-mans land. The initial advance was completed to the rue du Bois with fairly light casualties and the troops occupied the German front line trenches and dug in. It was at this point the 2nd Battalion Ox and Bucks were sent in to support. After this German resistance stiffened with accurate machine gun and artillery fire. The village of Festubert was eventually captured on 25th May, only 1 kilometer of territory gained at cost of 16,000 casualties including Tadmarton's Francis Riddle. 

The 2nd Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry went into attack against heavily defended German lines at about 08:45 on the 16th May 1915. Francis Riddle was reported as being killed almost immediately at Richebourg l' Avoue. He was buried near breastworks north of the Rue du Bois, but his body was never recovered from that spot. His army service record does not survive but his death was recorded in De Ruvigny's roll of honour. The Marquis De Ruvigny originally set out to record every serviceman lost in the First World War, at a time when it was thought "it will all be over by Christmas". As it was it ran into five volumes and contained over 26,000 entries before the sheer number of deaths made the task impossible in 1916. Details of Francis Riddle's service and death are included along with the following quotes.

His commanding officer wrote; 

"He gave his life fighting for his King and Country, and helping to add to the reputation of the regiment with all his might. They for their part have lost a brave, cheery gentleman and one who, from my experience when he was under my command, found no duty too much for him and whose one idea was to help" 

 

A fellow subaltern wrote; 

"He will be missed by his company and men more than I can say, who always relied on him and looked up to him in an emergency" 

He is also commemorated on his mother's gravestone in Tadmarton Churchyard and by a small stained glass  window in Tadmarton Church.  

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