Today (Thursday 22 September) marks the 100th anniversary since local World War One (WW1) hero, 2Lt Sampson Bridgwood, received a Military Cross for his bravery at the Battle of the Somme and, in recognition, a road has been named in his honour at St. Modwen Homes’ Trentham Manor development.
Part of Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s scheme to recognise the soldiers who left the region to fight in WW1, members of Sampson’s family as well as Councillor Anthony Munday, Lord Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent and representatives of The Mercian Regiment and the Staffordshire Regimental Association, including the Association’s canine mascot Sergeant Watchman V, attended a ceremony to unveil Sampson Bridgwood Close.
2Lt Bridgwood served with the 1/5th North Staffordshire Regiment and was awarded the Military Cross for his action on 20th September 1916. The citation for the award reads “For gallant conduct during the raid on the enemy’s trenches near Ransart on the night of 19th-20th September 1916…The success of the raid was entirely due to the bravery, good judgement and initiative shown by Second Lieutenant Bridgwood.”
During a raid in the Battle of the Somme, Sampson Bridgwood found himself with only four men of his detachment in the German’s trenches after being separated from the main force. Thinking quickly, he left his men at the junction of the trench and proceeded about thirty yards to the left and bombed a German shelter, known as a dug-out, located within the wall of the trench. He then proceeded forty yards in the other direction and did the same before engaging in hand to hand combat. His bravery allowed him to eliminate the immediate threat from the enemy, ensuring all four of his men got out safely.
Jan Hurst, granddaughter of Sampson Bridgwood, said: “The family are so proud to have been able to recognise my grandfather’s bravery in this way. The ceremonial street naming was a fitting way to mark the 100th anniversary of when he received the Military Cross and will prove a lasting tribute to the part he played in WW1.”
Born on 21st October 1889 in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, Sampson joined the British Army at the outbreak of WW1 with his two brothers, Augustus and Martin. Whilst Sampson and Martin returned home safely, Augustus was killed in battle in Flanders, exactly one year to the day after Sampson received his award.
Sampson returned from active service to resume his career within the education department in Stoke-on-Trent and eventually became the Director of Education. He was survived by his two children, John, who has since passed away, and Mary, who is now aged 89 and attended today’s ceremony. Four generations of Sampson’s family attended the event, including his great great granddaughter, Emmeline Harwood, who is aged just 12 weeks old.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council deputy leader and the authority’s Armed Forces champion, councillor Abi Brown, said: “This street naming represents the latest in a series of commemorations across the city to mark the centenary of the Great War. It is right and fitting that we recognise the bravery of our local heroes who fought to give us our freedoms today. We owe Sampson Bridgwood a debt of honour to the services he gave to our country and also to our city – he played a very significant role in helping to shape the education of thousands of city children. To help recognise this, his current counterpart – council director for children and family services, Louise Rees – also attended today’s ceremony.”
Dave Smith, Managing Director at St. Modwen Homes who organised the event, said: “Today we marked an incredibly brave individual who fought for both his country and his region. Not only did the event give Sampson’s family the chance to celebrate his gallantry but it also allowed us all to remember the sacrifice made by ordinary people during WW1. St. Modwen Homes is pleased to be part of the Council’s street naming initiative, honouring soldiers from across Staffordshire.”
Mrs Jane White, Assistant Regimental Secretary for The Mercian Regiment, said: “The Mercian Regiment is the successor to the Staffordshire Regiment and we were delighted to be asked to take part in today’s event. It is especially poignant to stand alongside Second Lieutenant Bridgwood’s family and to provide a respectful and fitting tribute to acknowledge his courageous action during the Battle of the Somme.”
Sampson Bridgwood Close is located near the entrance to Trentham Manor which is now home to multiple new homeowners; the majority of which have grown up in the local area. Currently, there is a range of three, four and five bedroom homes available to purchase, with prices starting from £198,995.
St. Modwen Homes is the housebuilding brand of St. Modwen, the UK’s leading regeneration specialist. St. Modwen has delivered multiple regeneration projects in Stoke, including The Trentham Estate and Gardens, Festival Park and Trentham Lakes, home of Stoke City FC’s Britannia Stadium.