The History of Captain John Rickerby

15th April 2024

image of articles belonging to Captain Rickerby

If you have visited our Cheltenham office recently you may have spotted our new display in the reception area. This has been installed to recognise in part the history of our firm and a reminder that we have been in Cheltenham for a significant number of years.

The roots of our predecessor firms go back to 1796 when Rickerbys was founded in Cheltenham. Rather than do a timeline of the firm and how we have grown, we have focused our reception display on Captain John Rickerby.

John Rickerby was born in Cheltenham in 1895 and was the son of Major Thomas Ellerson Rickerby who was a Partner at Rickerby & Co, as the firm then was. Capt. Rickerby was killed in action at Beauvois in France whilst a member of the 2/5th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment, aged just 22.

Capt. Rickerby was a pupil at Cheltenham College when, on 26 September 1914, at just 18 years old, he was enlisted and appointed to a Territorial Force Commission as a second Lieutenant. When the 2/5th Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment was formed Capt. Rickerby joined and by April 1915 he had been promoted to Lieutenant. He was then appointed to Captain on 17 March 1917.

Capt. Rickerby went to France with his unit on 25 May 1916. In July of that year he was awarded the Military Cross for his role at Aubers Ridge, where he moved his men from the front line into the crater to protect them for heavy German Bombardment.

On 22 March 1918, Capt. Rickerby’s battalion was stationed at Holnon Wood. Here, the battalion came under bombardment – and Capt. Rickerby was hit by a shell, later dying from his wounds. Once his body was recovered, he was buried at Savy British Cemetery in France.

Capt. Rickerby is commemorated in a number of places locally such as on the Cheltenham College Roll of Honour and on the Cheltenham War Memorial.

In his book, ‘The Story of The 2/5th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment 1914-1918’, A.F Barnes writes:

“He was a type to whom clean life and hard living are part of a deep religion […] Possessing a stern sense of duty and full of joy of living, yet completely regardless of death, he was the ideal Company Commander”.

Included in the display is a four-page letter from a solider, Will Wintle, who found Capt. Rickerby on the battlefield. It is well worth a read and is unredacted, despite being written and sent from a German camp. If you have the time, please do pop in. If anyone has any further information about the Rickerbys’, please do get in touch.