Friday, October 28, 2011

The Riddle Brothers - Piopio

Four Riddle brothers enlisted to serve in World War One John, Hormah, Patrick and Ewing.  Marion Riddle their mother had only just lost her husband Walter Riddle who had died in 1914 the departure of her sons over the next couple of years must have been heart wrenching. 

The first of the four brothers to embark were John (12/3140) and Hormah Riddle (12/3141) who had enlisted together and then embarked with the Auckland Infantry Regiment as part of the 7th Reinforcements on the 9 October 1915.  Their military records have not yet been digitised so I have been unable to find out if they served together after they arrived at the Front as I should imagine they did (on my next visit to Wellington I intend to look up several Military Records including John and Hormah Riddle).  John Riddle was killed in action on 30 September 1916 on the Somme.  When the news of his death reached New Zealand I am sure his mother would have been bereft with grieve especially as two further sons were now enlisted to follow their brothers to war.

Ewing (32067) and Patrick Riddle (32068) also enlisted together on 25 July 1916 and embarked with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade on 15 November 1916.  I wonder how they felt?  Had the death of their brother made them more determined to do their bit?  or were they filled with trepidation now that more than ever they were aware that they may not return to New Zealand.  I imagine they felt both.

Ewing and Patrick marched into Etaples camp in France on 3 March 1917 and both were attached to the Wellington Battalion.  Patrick joined the Battalion in the Field on 27 May 1917.  In contrast Ewing was admitted to hospital with Gastritis on 3 April 1917 and sent back to England and did not join the Battalion until 9 July 1917.   After a time at the Front the brothers went on leave to England from 5 February 1918 returning to the field on 26 February 1918.  This time it was Patrick's turn to be hospitalised with a sprained back.  He went back into the field but soon reported sick again with more back problems.   Eventually Patrick was medically discharged just weeks before the war came to a close.  On his records it states that he was suffering from disseminated sclerosis (Multiple sclerosis).

On returning from leave in February Ewing continued to serve in France until the 4 November 1918 when with only days to go before the war came to an end,  he was killed in action at Le Quesnoy.  Two days later his brother Patrick embarked on the ship 'Ayrshire' back to New Zealand and his wife and two young daughters.  I wonder if he knew the news of his brother before he embarked? 

I would love to hear from anyone who has more to tell about the Riddle Brothers or who has any photos.  The Riddle brothers were most certainly 'Brothers in Arms'.


  1. Thank you for pulling that story together. That's my grandfather and his brothers. I never expected to find so much from a quick google search.

    1. Thanks for commenting it is great when I hear from descendants! Which one of the brothers is your grandfather?

  2. Walter Riddle was previously married. From that marriage 8 grandsons fought in World War One. 4 of them died there.

  3. Hi Helen, great reading, thanks. These boys, and really, they were just boys, were my grandfathers uncles. Their poor mother. Did all 4 of the brothers die in the war?