CWG: Leading Seaman Archibald Langridge

Leading Seaman Archibald Langridge

Archibald Edward Langridge was born on 9th November 1892, one of six children – and the only son – to Edward and Jane Langridge. Edward was a labourer from Sevenoaks, who raised his young family in the town. Archibald had ideas of bigger adventures, however.

In August 1908, he joined the Royal Navy. Still underage – he was only 15 years old – he was granted the rank of Boy 2nd Class and was sent off to HMS Ganges – the naval base in Suffolk – for training.

Within a year, Archibald had been promoted to Boy 1st Class, and was soon assigned to his first ship, HMS Berwick, an armoured cruiser. After three months on board, he was assigned to HMS Pembroke, the shore-based establishment at the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent, and it was here that he returned to in between voyages.

His next sea assignment was the battleship HMS London, which he joined on 8th February 1910, and where he spent two years. During this time Archibald turned 18, and was formally enlisted in the Royal Navy, attaining the rank of Ordinary Seaman. His service records show that he was 5ft 2ins (1.57m) tall had light hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion. They also show that he had a scar below his right eye and another on the back of his head. He also had a number of tattoos – a woman’s head, good luck and horseshoe on his right forearm and a cross and star on his left.

Ordinary Seaman Langridge’s naval career continued and, by the time hostilities broke out in 1914, he had served on two more ships – HMS Antrim and HMS Boadicea – and had been promoted to Able Seaman.

When war was declared, Archibald was serving on Boadicea, a ship on board which he spent a total of three years. He was again promoted during this time, reaching the rank of Leading Seaman.

By the spring of 1916, he was back serving in Chatham. Archibald had met Gladys Godfrey, who came from his home town, and the couple married in Sevenoaks in May. They went on to have a son, George, who was born in March the following year.

Leading Seaman Langridge was now permanently based at HMS Pembroke, and spent spent nearly eighteen months at the dockyard. HMS Pembroke was a busy place in the summer of 1917, and its barracks reached capacity. Chatham Drill Hall was used as temporary accommodation, and this is where Archibald found himself billeted.

By this point in the war, the German Air Force was trying to minimise the losses it suffered during daytime raids, and was, instead, trialling night flights; on 3rd September 1917, Chatham found itself in their flight path. The Drill Hall received a direct hit, and Leading Seaman Langridge was killed, along with close to 100 others. He was just 24 years old.

The victims of the Chatham Air Raid were laid to rest in Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham, walking distance from the Drill Hall where Archibald Edward Langridge and his colleagues had died.

There is a sad epilogue to this tale. Four months after Archibald’s death, Gladys gave birth to their second child, Charles. He would never know his father.

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