We tend to think of the men listed on the war memorials in our towns and cities lying in some corner of a field in France or Belgium, or perhaps on the Gallipoli peninsula or in Iraq. Some were lost on more obscure fronts, or moving between them. One such man was Londoner A.J. Duddridge
Albert John Duddridge was born in 1887 and grew up in Islington. he worked as a coach body maker before enlisting on 1 August 1915. He was a private in the Mechanical Transport branch of the Army Service Corps in 605th M.T. Coy. He embarked from Brindisi on the Citta de Palermo on 8 January 1916, as part of the British Adriatic Mission, heading for Valona – now Vlorë in Albania.
Two hours after their departure, 6 miles north-east of Brindisi, the ship struck a mine and capsized. Of the 200 on board, about half were saved including 84 of the 143 British troops. AJ Duddridge was not among them and his body was not recovered. He is commemorated, along with his lost shipmates and nearly 1,990 other non-sailors lost at sea, on the Hollybrook Memorial in Southampton.
The Adriatic Mission was an attempt to help the over 100,000 Serbian troops who had been driven to the Adriatic Coast by the advancing Austro-Hungarian army when Serbia was invaded. The Allies provided these men with supplies and helped them to evacuate the area, the Serbian troops later being moved to the Salonika Front. The retreat from Serbia was costly for the Serbs and the Adriatic Mission also cost the lives of men from the Allied nations, men serving far from their homes – like Albert John Duddridge.