Samuel James ‘Sam’ Ridout was born in Sturminster Newton on 27th December 1919. The eldest of the three children of Jack H H Ridout and his wife Ann. Sam’s siblings Dorothy and John were born in 1921 and 1923 respectively.
Jack Ridout had ended World War 1 as a Sergeant in the Divisional Train (i.e. what we would now call the Logistic Support) of the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division. Jack came from a military family and was born in Windsor Barracks in 1891 where his father (Sam’s grandfather) James, was a Colour Sergeant in the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards.
Jack’s siblings (Sam’s Uncles and Aunts) were all born in barracks. Windsor and Chelsea Barracks where their father would have been on public duties, and Caterham which was the Guards’ training depot until 1960.
James having served in India and Egypt, retired after 22 year’s service and became the Sub-Postmaster in Okeford Fitzpaine.
When Sam was still a toddler the family moved to Woodlands Farm in Fiddleford. It is from there that he would have traveled to Blandford Grammar School. At the time some 30% of pupils arrived by train and 23% arrived by bicycle. It seems that Sam might have needed a combination of both, but there is evidence in Blandford Museum of pupils regularly making round trips of similar length (16 miles daily) by bicycle.
So far I have no definitive evidence of when Sam would have left Blandford Grammar School but there was an attempt by the new headmaster (Mr Stott who took over from Mr Greenhalgh in 1933) to get parents to guarantee that they would keep their children at the school until 16 when the standard leaving age at the time was 14. One can be sure however that Sam would have had at least 4-5 years at work before the outbreak of war in 1939.
From his Army Records (which unlike those of the First World War remain intact) the code used for his civilian employment has him as a Clerk in the ‘Distributive Trades’. Sam joined the Army in March 1940 at the Infantry Training Centre at Dorchester. This was at the barracks which have now been reduced to The Keep military museum. After initial training he was posted to the 5th Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment where he appears to have trained in the UK until 1944. In October 1943 Sam married Florence Eileen Newland in Farnham, Surrey.
After D-Day Sam landed in NW Europe on 23 June 1944 or D+ 17 and was transferred to 5th Battalion the East Yorkshire Regiment (5 E Yorks) no doubt as a (rather starkly honestly named) BCR (Battle Casualty Replacement) 5 E Yorks were part of 50 (Northumbrian) Division, itself part of 30 Corps and were thus part of the ground element of operation Market Garden the massed airborne drop at Arnhem to seize the last bridge over the Rhine in mid September 1944. As the assault on Arnhem failed by the 21st September, the division now settled down to static warfare and aggressive patrolling in the low-lying ‘Island’ between the Waal and the Nederrijn. Although the circumstances are unclear how, Sam was killed on the 27 October 1944 and is buried in Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery alongside many of the airborne troops who had fallen at Arnhem.
Every year on the anniversary of the drop schoolchildren from Arnhem lay flowers on the graves in the cemetery, many families keeping the tradition of laying flowers on ‘their’ soldier’s grave. This picture is from the 2014 ceremony for the 70th anniversary.