Herbert Cooper Keith BIDLAKE (1896-1917)
2nd Lieutenant (acting Captain) Herbert Cooper Keith Bidlake (1896-1917) was a colleague of Cyril Sladden in the 9th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment.
Herbert Bidlake was born in Birkdale, Lancashire, in 1896, the second of six children of Herbert Howard Bidlake, an estate agent and later a chemist, and his wife, Charlotte Isabel. He was baptized at North Meols, Birkdale, on 21st March 1897. Soon after Keith’s birth, the family moved to Ivyhurst, Ringley Park Road, Reigate, Surrey. Herbert was educated at Reigate Grammar School and, at the time of the 1911 census, was boarding with one of the masters, Mr Samuel Eade. It appears that he also attended All Saints School, Bloxham, as his name is recorded on the war memorial there.
On 26th January 1915, Bidlake was gazetted a Temporary Second Lieutenant. He first went to Mesopotamia on 10th August 1916 with the 9th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment and was mentioned in despatches on 15th August 1916. An online publication, RGS War Years Exhibition, They were more Than Just Names – The Reigate Grammar School WW1 Memorial, gives an account of his time in Mesopotamia.
Captain Bidlake was killed in action on the Hai Salient on 25th February 1917, aged 20. His grave was unknown; his name is recorded on the Basra Memorial.
The University of Leeds library contains documents relating to Captain Bidlake. These include a letter of sympathy written by Cyril Sladden.