Raymond Francis Ridge - Page 1

raymond francis ridge

Warrant Officer Raymond Francis Ridge at enlistment

Photo supplied courtesy of Helen King, daughter of Raymond Francis Ridge


Introduction - Raymond Francis Ridge

His story, as told by his daughter, Helen King (nee Ridge)

----- Original Message -----
From: Helen King
Sent: Friday, May 21, 2010 8:08 AM
Subject: Jim Mcphee's story of his time in prisoner of war camps in Bankou in Poland and Luckenwalde in Germany

Hi. I have just stumbled across the story that Jim Mcphee has posted on the internet.  My father W/O Raymond Francis Ridge, service number A417891, (also known as "Barney" Ridge) was sent to England from Australia to fly in the Lancaster on bombing raids in Europe.  He was shot down over Amsterdam after a raid on Germany on the 13/6/1944. Parachute on fire, he was badly burned, but saved by landing in a tree. He made his way to a farm shed, where the owners found him and gave him to the Germans.  He was in the Luftwaffe Hospital in Amsterdam 13/6/1944 - 30/6/1944.  He was then sent to Bankou in Poland in Stalagluft VII from 3/7/1944 - 18/1/45 and then marched the same route from Bankou and eventually was put on the cattle trains and finally arrived at Luckenwalde 9/2/45- 13/5/45, and was liberated by the Russians. In his story Jim talks about a man that took on looking after the sick and trying to help them with their many ailments, as my father was  the holder of the state cycling record in Australia and had many opportunities of picking up different ways to treat injuries, and had similiar injuries from being shot down as was described by Jim in his story, I wondered if it was my father that he was talking about.  My father died at age 58, after suffering many years of post war stress, I remember many nights when I would be woken by my father screaming in his sleep he, waking up wet through from perspiration.  It seems there just might be a connection there, I would be very interested in any other information regarding the above.

Kind regards
Helen King (nee Ridge)


Jim McPhee's response

Fw: Re Raymond Francis Ridge.‏
From: Jim McPhee (ja.mcphee@sympatico.ca)
Sent: May 27, 2010 8:08:46 AM
To: joan baron (joan.baron@hotmail.com)
Thought you might like to see my response to Helen King. Cheers, Jim.
----- Original Message -----
From: Jim McPhee
To: Helen King
Sent: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 9:06 AM
Subject: Re Raymond Francis Ridge.

Dear Ms. King,
I believe that your father is the amazing man who helped so many fellow POW's through the many troubles during our stay at Bankou, on the "death march" and at Luckenwalde. There isn't much more that I can tell you that isn't in the story on Joan Baron's great memorial website. Even at that time when I was nineteen years old, I was amazed that a man that had such severe physical and emotional problems would have the strength to extend himself beyond all of that to give so much help to his fellow POWs. Your descriptions of his night terrors bring back to me the experience of being awakened by the screaming of the man who obviously was reliving very traumatic events. At times for a few years after coming home, I had similar night episodes, which I can tell you, are very distressing.
The man that I remember was held in very high esteem by the whole camp. As we were at  times in extreme situations, and many were hanging onto life by a thread, I am sure that the help that he gave, both physical and emotional, saved many a desparate young man. His example of pressing on to survive the possibility of surviving was one right up there with the wonderful padre that was serving a similar role. Both, I am sure, are remembered by all who were there.
You can be very proud of your father. There was no one there that filled the role of the man that I remember and I am sure that it is the same man you remember as your father.
That it has taken so many years to connect all of the stories is amazing. However, thinking back to the end of the war, no one seemed to want to talk about the bad times and no one seemed to want to hear. Even my family did not know the terrible parts of my experience for many years. probably into the 1980s. For the past four years I have been contacted by all of the families of my crew except on family. All who have come to see me seem to have had great appreciation for what I could tell them.
If there is anything more that I can do for you, just let me know. I assume that you live in Australia from where so many of our very good aircrew came . They were a very well respected group, full of fun and happy tricks. Although I have never been to Australia, I do have friends in Sydney with whom we have travelled on two or three occasions and with whom we communicate by e-mail quite often.
Sincerely yours,
Jim McPhee.


Raymond Francis Ridge - Page 1