Middleditch, John Graeme


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He was the only son of Bernard Middleditch, a house-master at Harrow and a soccer international, and Florence Margaret Middleditch (daughter of  Alexander Malcolm Sutherland-Graeme). His father’s home in retirement was Petergate, Rye, East Sussex.

From Horris Hill he came to Mr. Irving’s House in September 1920.  He showed promise both at cricket and football; he played in Toye Cup and was a useful member of a winning Ellis Cup side. Many hoped to see him in Lords, but he spent three years in the Second XI. In his last year he was Head of House, in a winning Commoner XV and on dress for VI, in Second XI Soccer and occasionally played for the School at rackets. The game he played best was golf, and he was also a keen shot.

In September 1926 he went to RMC Sandhurst, and from there to the Green Howards. At some point he married (Florence) Elaine Middleditch, of Oakford Manor, Bampton, Devon.

In February 1942 he was serving with 4th Battalion Green Howards, a territorial army unit.

After mobilisation for full time service in October 1939, 4GH were initially dispersed on guard duties across the north east of England.  Before long they were dispatched to the Cotswolds for concentrated training, marching for miles from their camp at Moreton-in-the-Marsh.   On 17th January 1940 they were inspected by the King and then moved to Southampton to embark for France.  By February 1940 they were based at Wavrin, close to the Belgian border where they remained until 16th May, before moving east to take up defensive positions on the River Dendre.  However they were quickly moved to defend the open right flank at Arras following the German breakthorough at Sedan.   4GH was to defend bridges over the River Scarpe.  Following an abortive British counter-attack 4GH withdrew through closing German forces and retreated first to Lille and then Dunkirk, being among the last to be picked up by the Navy.

Middleditch was wounded in the retreat in June although there are no details of his injuries.  The battalion was re-equipped and retraining in England followed.  Standards and fitness were improved, they no longer ran 5 miles across country in sports kit but on road wearing hob-nailed boots.     One one occasion 4GH marched for 23 miles through a blizzard before going into a mock attack.

In April 1941 4GH were posted to the Middle East, embarking at Liverpool on the liner Empress of Russia.  The voyage took 6 weeks and on arrival the division began the acclimatisation process.   4GH were at Bir Thalata in Palestine by the end of December 1941, and the training it conducted there is described in the regimental history as “intensive”, involving both day and night time operations.

His death was made known in February 1942 but no further details seem to be available.  He is buried in grave 3.C.7, Nicosia War Cemetery.

Source:  “The 4th and 5th Battalions, The Green Howards 1938-1942: Organisation, Recruitment and Training” by D Hebditch.

 

War: World War 2

  • Surname: Middleditch
  • Forenames or initials: John Graeme
  • House: E
  • Years in School: 1920-1926
  • Rank: Captain
  • Regiment: Green Howards
  • Date of Birth: 23rd March 1907
  • Date of Death: 1st February 1942
  • How Died: Died on Active Service
  • Location in War Cloister: Inner E1
  • Decoration: NA
  • Burial Site: Nicosia War Cemetery: Grave 3.C.7