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WW1 soldier’s fight for life and faith

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World War One soldiers were not only defined by heroism during battle but by the lives they went on to lead if they were among the fortunate survivors.

As the 100th annual commemoration of the start of The Great War in August approaches, David Middleton, of Chesterfield, has shared his grandfather Christopher Loveridge’s remarkable story with the Derbyshire Times.

David Middleton was inspired by his grandfather’s bible which was inscribed “be a good soldier and fight the Battle of Life and Faith” and he has compiled a touching biography entitled The Battle of Life and Faith.

Mr Middleton said: “Many times he told us about being in Ypres, Passchendaele and Arras. Each name being enough to send shivers down your spine.

“It was during his time in these places he suffered and escaped with horrific injuries including gassing, frost bite and shrapnel in his back.”

Pte Loveridge, of the Sherwood Foresters, enlisted when he was aged 17 and during reflections he told how he had seen the River Somme “running red with blood”.

He told family he had been a stretcher-bearer and is believed to have been a marksman which might explain why he was banned from shooting tin ducks at Brampton Fair.

Pte Loveridge, of Chesterfield, was part of the Foresters’ Machine Gun Core and with a full marksman’s grade he would have been part of a group known as the Suicide Brigade due to their short life expectancy.

After the war, Pte Loveridge volunteered in the Second World War Blitz rescuing survivors and he worked with the St John Ambulance and was honoured as a prolific blood donor.

Mr Middleton added: “I have very fond memories of the nicest grandfather in the world. I was named after him of which I am very proud.”

The inscription on Pte Loveridge’s bible about the Battle of Life and Faith is poignant for his grandson after research revealed the war horrors his grandfather endured and the way he still contributed to society in later years.

A loving grandson’s fond memories of his grandfather and the soldier’s inscribed bible motivated him to research Pte Christopher Loveridge’s World War One experiences.

David Middleton, of Chesterfield, began researching grandfather Pte Christopher Loveridge during the 90th Remembrance Service which marked 90 years since the end of World War One. He was motivated by Pte Loveridge’s bible which had been inscribed by the soldier’s father urging his son to “be a good soldier and fight the Battle of life and Faith”.

Pte Loveridge’s stories to family including carefully lighting cigarettes so as not to attract sniper’s bullets, terrifying treatments for frost bite and a river running with blood lay the foundations for the research. Mr Middleton researched the Sherwood Foresters regiment and the National Archives. His mother Joan Loveridge helped David as they trawled through photographs to bring Pte Loveridge’s story to life.

The Derbyshire Times is marking 100 years since the start of World War I by sharing our readers’ stories of that time. Get in touch with memories of your relatives’ roles in the Great War. Contact reporter Jon Cooper at jon.cooper@derbyshiretimes.co.uk or call (01246) 504524.

Click on the link above to enjoy the picture slideshow of Pte Christopher Loveridge’s life and heirlooms.

 

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