Blue Plaque to honour one of Sunderland’s most decorated war heroes

Claude Ridley

Claude Ridley

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One of Sunderland’s bravest and most decorated sons is to be honoured at a special ceremony.

Born in 1897, Claude Ridley was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Fusiliers, who was attached to the Royal Flying Corps in 1915.

My father Claude Ridley would have been deeply honoured and indebted that his war efforts and name live on.

Eleanor Longmire [nee Ridley]

He was awarded the Military Cross for action against Zeppelin raids on the Home Front, and the Distinguished Service Order (DSO), for ‘conspicuous gallantry and resource’ in the execution of a special mission behind enemy lines.

A Blue Plaque will be unveiled at his childhood home - Mere Knolls House in Fulwell - on Monday morning, when Mayor of Sunderland, Coun Alan Emerson, will be joined by Mr Ridley’s daughter Eleanor Longmire and grandson Alain Ridley, on the 100th anniversary of him receiving his decorations.

Three military standards will be raised at the site and re-enactment servicemen in First World War uniform will take position, and the unveiling will be followed by a minute’s silence and sounding of the Last Post and Reveille by a lone bugler.

Sunderland City Council has been working with partners across the city on a programme of events and exhibitions to commemorate the Centenary of the First World War and the council’s North Area Committee has funded the installation of the plaque.

Coun Emerson said: “Sunderland is very proud of its military tradition and all those from our city and communities who have served our country with such bravery and distinction over the years.

“The Area Committee is honoured to have funded the Blue Plaque which will provide a permanent, visible reminder of Claude Ridley’s bravery to everyone who passes his childhood home in Fulwell.”

The full extent of Claude Ridley’s career has been researched by volunteers from the North East Land Sea and Air Museum (NELSAM) at Washington who, backed by the council, have won £10,000 Heritage Lottery Funding to build a replica model of the Morane Bullet plane which Ridley flew during the First World War.

Built by volunteers with help of Sunderland College and the Air Training Corps, the plane will be on view at public events next year before being put on permanent display at the museum.

Eleanor Longmire [nee Ridley] said: “Our thanks to the North Area Committee for funding Claude’s blue plaque. A true testimony to my father who was a legend like so many others in the Royal Flying Corps 1915 and cherished his childhood in Sunderland.

“We also thank NELSAM and their volunteers for sacrificing so much energy building a replica of the Morane Bullet plane.

“My father Claude Ridley would have been deeply honoured and indebted that his war efforts and name live on.”