A Blue Plaque has been unveiled in Sunderland to honour one of the city’s bravest and most decorated sons.
The memorial is situated at the childhood home of Claude Ridley, Wing Commander in the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War, who was awarded the Military Medal and Distinguished Service Order in 1916.
The Mayor of Sunderland, Coun Alan Emerson, was joined at Mere Knolls House, in Fulwell, by Mr Ridley’s daughter Eleanor Longmire and grandson Alain Ridley, a hundred years to the day he was awarded some of this country’s highest military honours.
Three military standards were raised at the site and re-enactment servicemen in First World War uniform in position, as the Mayor and Mr Ridley’s family unveiled the blue plaque before a minute’s silence and sounding of the Last Post and Reveille by a lone bugler.
Born in Sunderland in 1897 C.A Ridley was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Fusiliers who was attached to the Royal Flying Corps in 1915.
A year later 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.
Mr Ridley was awarded the military medal and Distinguished Service Order in 1916.
The full extent of his bravery has been researched by volunteers from the North East Land Sea and Air Museum (NELSAM) at Washington who with support from Sunderland City Council have attracted Heritage Lottery Funding (HLF) of £10,000 to build a replica model of the Morane Bullet plane which Ridley flew during the First World War.
Built by volunteers from NELSAM with the help of Sunderland College and the Air Training Corps, the replica First World War aeroplane will to be put on view at public events next year before being put on permanent display at the museum in Old Washington Road near the Sunderland Nissan plant.
he Mayor of Sunderland, 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.”
Eleanor Longmire [nee Ridley] added: “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.”