Service breeches : Lieutenant J G Ridley, 53 battalion AIF

Place Europe: Western Front
Accession Number REL/03208
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Uniform
Physical description Chamois, Cotton drill, Cotton sateen, Plastic, Wool 'Bedford Cord'
Maker Pratt & Co.
Place made United Kingdom: England, Greater London, London
Date made 1917
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Officer's khaki Bedford cord breeches. The breeches have a concealed five button fly, and seven buttons are spaced around the waistband for the fitting of braces. All the buttons are khaki plastic. There is a slanted pocket on each side of the front waist and a buttoned welt pocket on the right rear. The inside legs are reinforced with chamois leather. Each leg fastens below the knee with cotton laces threaded through eight pairs of hand-finished eyelets.The pockets and fly are lined with khaki and cream-coloured cotton drill; the waist is lined with brown cotton twill and glazed linen. A khaki cotton loop joins the points of the 'V' at the centre back waist of the breeches. The bottom edges of both cuffs have been extended with a wide (115mm) band of khaki cotton sateen and secured by two buttons. A label sewn to the inside waistband reads 'No. 1419 W PRATT & Co/ 8 Eagle Place / PICCADILLY LONDON .W. AND AT CAMBRIDGE'. Handwritten in it in ink is ' May 1 / J. G. Ridley Esq'.

History / Summary

John Gotch Ridley was born on 8 September 1896. A keen military student, he was serving in the militia, with 21 (Woollahara) Infantry Regiment, when he enlisted in the AIF at Sydney. After initial training he was assigned as a private, service number 3545, to the 11th reinforcements for 1 Battalion on 20 July 1915. He sailed for Egypt on 5 October aboard the transport HMAT A32 Themistocles. After arriving there he was transferred 53 Battalion in February 1916 which had been newly raised as part of the doubling of the AIF.

Ridley was then sent to the School of Instruction at Zietoun where he qualified as a 1st Class Lewis Gun instructor, before rejoining 53 Battalion. He was promoted sergeant in May, shortly before the battalion sailed to France in June, for service on the Western Front.
The 53rd's first major battle was Fromelles. On 19 July 1916 Ridley was severely wounded when a bullet passed through his face and neck. He was evacuated to hospital in England and was not able to rejoin his battalion until November.

In March 1917 53 Battalion advanced towards the Hindenburg Line to hold the position gained during the second battle of Bullecourt. Ridley was commissioned a second lieutenant on 2 June 1917. Operations in the Ypres sector, then Polygon Wood, on 26 September 1917, followed. Ridley was promoted to lieutenant on 1 October 1917 and was appointed a Lewis Gun Officer after completing a training course in December at le Toquet.

In late March 1918, the Battalion fought at Villers-Bretonneux, then, in August 1918, at Peronne, Anvil Wood and St Quentin Canal. Ridley was awarded the Military Cross for his actions at Bellicourt in 1918 for risking his life by bringing up ammunition and rations to the troops on the front line, and rescuing the wounded.

Ridley was ordained a priest after the war and served again in the Second World War as an evangelical chaplain, with the rank of captain. In 1949 he co-founded the Herald of Hope and the Australian Institute of Evangelism (Ambassadors of Christ). One of his sermon's inspired the First World War veteran 'Mr Eternity', Arthur Stace, who wrote 'Eternity' in chalk over the pavements of Sydney. Ridley died on 26 September 1976.