A Sunderland hero – who won honours for his bravery in action during the First World War – has been remembered in song.
Claude Ridley served with distinction on the front line in the global conflict.
Born in Sunderland in 1897, CA Ridley was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Fusiliers, who was attached to the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) in 1915.
He was a Wing Commander in the RFC and 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.
He once evaded capture on the German side of the lines for three months.
After the war, he was sent to command Stow Maries Aerodrome, near Maldon in Essex, which to this day is the largest surviving First World War aerodrome.
Upon reading about his heroic deeds we became aware of just what an amazing person he was. So we decided that although the song was predominantly about the air base, he should have a special mention.Jon Greaves
Musical trio Stuck In The Middle have paid tribute to Claude Ridley and all who served at the aerodrome which he commanded.
Stuck In The Middle consists of Jon Greaves on guitar and vocals (as well as keyboards on the recording), Julian May on guitar and vocals and Angela Gardner on percussion and vocals.
Angela said: “The band became inspired to write about Stow Maries Aerodrome after performing at a number of their functions over the last few years and learning about its past.
“Jon has always had a big interest in aviation, and we did a lot of research into the history of the air base and 37 Squadron Royal Flying Corps, who were based there, before writing the song.”
Jon added: “We wanted to represent the base accurately and get the facts right.
“I believe when writing about something like this the lyrics are very important, but we also came up with a tune that we think is quite catchy too.
“Certainly the staff at Stow Maries all commented on how it kind of gets stuck in your head and you can’t stop humming it.”
The song makes particular reference to Claude Ridley.
The band said that upon reading about his heroic deeds they became aware of just what an amazing person he was.
“So we decided that although the song was predominantly about the air base, he should have a special mention. He survived the war but died of natural causes in 1942.
“He always recalled happy times at Stow Maries, and upon his request was buried in Stow Maries Church yard.”
The single will be available at the Stow Maries Museum shop and through the band’s Facebook Page.