Death of most senior soldier from Corby to die in First World War to be commemorated

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The 100th anniversary of the death of the most senior ranked soldier from the Corby borough to be killed in the First World War is to be marked this weekend.

On Sunday (October 16) Corby Council will commemorate the death of Colonel George Eustace Ripley, who was commander of the 6th Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment.

Colonel Ripley and his wife had been living in Bury House, Cottingham, since 1902.

George Eustace Ripley was born in Norfolk in 1864 and educated at Rugby School.

He was a professional soldier, firstly with the Norfolk Regiment before moving to the Northamptonshire Regiment in 1884.

He served in the South African War (1899-1902) and retired reluctantly from the Army a few months before the outbreak of the First World War.

At the outbreak of hostilities he applied to be reinstated and was eventually given command of the 6th Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment, in October 1914. Many local men were to serve in the 6th Battalion under Colonel Ripley.

The Northamptonshire Regiment had been involved in a successful operation to take Trones Wood in July 1916.

In a subsequent engagement at Thiepval in September 1916 tragedy was to strike.

The following extract from The Northamptonshire Regiment 1914-1918 is reproduced by kind permission of The Naval & Military Press Ltd.

“Many were the congratulatory messages showered on the 6th Battalion. But the victory was dearly bought.

“Within three hours, 15 officers had fallen. At the finish, Major Charrington and two young subalterns were all that were left.

“In other ranks, 32 were killed, 204 wounded and 35 were missing. After a rest and reorganisation, the battalion took part in the capture of Thiepval.

“Here again the fighting was very severe, and the casualties heavier even than at Trones Wood.

“The killed numbered 105 and in wounded and missing the casualties were 258.

“Five officers were killed or died of wounds, and 9 wounded, and amongst the former was Colonel Ripley, who succumbed after the amputation of his right arm.

“No officer could have held the affection and confidence of men in a higher degree.

“Thereafter, the 6th remained in trenches in the Albert area, constantly under heavy fire, and spending a dreary winter in snow and frost.”

The Colonel was evacuated back to England after sustaining his injury to convalesce, the amputation having been performed at a base hospital.

Records show that Colonel George Eustace Ripley died at 10 Carlton House, Middlesex, on October 16, 1916.

He was buried in Cottingham Churchyard.

Following his death he was honoured with an inscribed memorial plaque in the Holy Sepulchre Church, Sheep Street, Northampton.

This was unveiled by Lord Spencer. It reads:

To the glory of God and to the memory of Colonel George Eustace Ripley

Late commanding officer of the 6th Bttn Northamptonshire Regt

Who died in London from wounds received in the attack

On Thiepval, France 26th September 1916 aged 52 and was

Buried in Cottingham in this county on October 19th 1916

This window and brass are

Placed here by officers and men of the

Northamptonshire Regiment with other friends as a

Testimony to the high esteem in which this distinguished

Officer was held for his ability, courage and the many

Attractive personal gifts which adorned his long and honoured military career

Further information on this soldier will be presented on the Cube Helpdesk, shared through Twitter, @CorbyBC, and can be found on Corby Borough Council’s website, as part of the First World War commemorations.