William Windridge (1867-1916)
Park Keeper, Central Parks
William Windridge was born in 1867 at Wilnecote in Staffordshire to William, an agricultural labourer, and Eliza Windridge. In 1881 the family had moved to Gorse House, Weeford, Litchfield. William senior was still an agricultural labourer and William junior was employed, aged 13, as a farm boy. Seven years later William married Anne M’Calister in Newry, Ireland. Why William was in Ireland is unknown, though it can be presumed that he joined, in 1885 or 1886, the army’s newly formed Military Foot Police (MFP). The MFP at that time had an establishment of one sergeant-major, 13 sergeants, 17 corporals and 59 privates. In 1891, Lance Corporal Windridge was living with Annie at 6 Manor Street, Woolwich where the MFP had a depot.
William served in the South African Campaign (Boer War) 1899 to 1902, where he was presented with the Queen’s South Africa Medal with six clasps and King Edward’s Medal with two clasps. In 1905 he left the army after gaining his Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, which is given after 18 years of irreproachable service, and on 16 March joined the Office of Works as a Park Keeper in the Central Parks. In 1911 William and his wife, Annie, were living at 52 Sussex Street, Pimlico. William joined up again in the First World War with the Military Provost Staff Corps, the successor to the MFP. He was posted to the military prisoner of war camp at Rouen, not far from the French port of Le Havre. It was here that acting Sergeant Major W1591 William Windridge died of malaria on 20 December 1916, possibly contracted many years before whilst with the MFP on active service in Egypt.
His body lies in St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen with a grave reference of O.III.H.5.