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ยป Henry Derek RIPLEY
 
 

Henry Derek RIPLEY

Service number 70575

Born: January 28th 1914
Died: December 21st 1940

He was born at Bedstone Court, Radnorshire, the second of the four sons of Sir Henry Ripley, 3rd Bt and his wife, Dorothy Harley. He had two sisters.

The Ripley family moved to Bedstone – now in Powys -from Yorkshire in 1870. Bedstone Court which was built for them between 1879-84, was a “calendar house”, with 365 windows. It was one of the first houses in the area to have electricity. There was an estate saw yard and a wheelwright and blacksmith in the village. At one of the cottages, named Laundry Cottage, all the laundry for the Court was done.

During WW2, the Court was occupied by Orwell Park Preparatory School which evacuated there from East Anglia. In 1950, the main house was sold by the Ripleys and is a school. The Ripleys retained the estate.

He was educated at Repton and Matriculated in 1932. He graduated with a 4th in Jurispudence in 1935.

On March 19th 1934 he was granted a commission as a Pilot Officer on probation. He was promoted to Flying Officer on August 29th 1936. On September 3rd 1940 he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant.

He was serving with 80 Squadron. A fighter squadron, it wasn't involved in the early fighting in the Second World War. After the Italian entry into the war in June 1940, the squadron moved to the Libyan border and spent several months, covering the early British successes in the Western Desert. In November 1940, the squadron became part of the RAF that was sent to Greece to help fight off an Italian invasion

At 10.30 on 21st December 1940 the Squadron took off from Yanina for the front in Greece. They were led by Squadron Leader William Hickey and flew in three sections. The first comprised four aircraft and was led by Hickey, the second of three was led by Flight Lieutenant "Pat" Pattle and the third trio was led by Flying Officer Sidney Linnard.

Near Argyrokastron, three enemy bombers were seen. The Italian bombers were attacked and Pattle believed that he had hit one. At the same time, fifteen more appeared on the scene. Maggiore Oscar Molinari, the Gruppo commander, was leading these Italian aircraft on an offensive reconnaissance over Yanina, Paramythia and Zitsa. Seeing the bombers under attack by an estimated 20 Gladiators, the Italians attacked, joined by other aircraft from the 150o Gruppo. The British pilots assessed the number of their opponents as 54!

The air battle continued for twenty-five minutes. Eight of the British pilots returned to base, claiming eight confirmed and three probables. Pilot Officer Vale claimed three, one of them in flames. Sergeant Charles Casbolt claimed one, which blew up and another probable. Sergeant Donald Gregory claimed another two, again one in flames, but his own aircraft was badly shot up and he was wounded in the right eye. He managed to return to Yanina. Pattle and Flight Sergeant S. A. Richens also claimed one CR.42 each, Pattle reporting that his victim fell in flames, whilst Flying Officers W. B. Price-Owen and F. W. Hosken both claimed probables.

Flying Officer H. D. Ripley in N5854 was seen shot down in flames and killed, whilst Squadron Leader Hickey was spotted bailing out of N5816. His parachute caught fire, and he died from injuries soon after reaching the ground. Greek troops recovered the bodies of both pilots. Flying Officer Sidney Linnard's aircraft (N5834) was also badly hit and he was hit in the left calf by an explosive bullet and was taken to hospital after landing at Yanina

He is commemorated on the Alamein Memorial Column 239.

A Memorial notice in The Times on December 22nd 1941 said “Strike True”.

His older brother Edward Robert Guy Ripley fell in Normandy on June 30th 1944.

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