Brig. Nicholas Ridley OBE
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Posted 06 June 2016 - 01:09 AM
"Brigadier Nicholas Ridley, who has died aged 75, took command of his battalion in 1979 after it became caught up in the bombings at Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland, the deadliest IRA attack on the British Army during the Troubles.
On August 27 1979, just hours after the Queen’s cousin, Lord Louis Mountbatten, was killed by a bomb at Mullaghmore, Donegal Bay, the IRA ambushed a convoy of 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment at Narrow Water Castle, near Warrenpoint. The bomb was hidden in a lorry loaded with bales of straw and was detonated by remote control.
The commanding officer of 1st Battalion Queen’s Own Highlanders (1 QO HLDRS), Lieutenant-Colonel David Blair, arrived by helicopter as part of a rapid reaction unit. The IRA had concealed a second bomb in milk pails and he and his signaller were killed by the explosion.
The attacks had left 18 dead and many severely injured. Ridley, based at Crossmaglen, South Armagh, was ordered to the site to take over and subsequently became acting commanding officer of his battalion. His men were out for revenge but Ridley, showing leadership of the highest order, persuaded them to direct their outrage into the resolve required to defeat the terrorists.
His brigadier said afterwards that he had never seen a battalion react so defiantly, so correctly and with such self-discipline after the loss of their CO. The Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, made a highly-publicised visit to Crossmaglen and briefings by Ridley and the local brigade commander led to the establishment of a directorate of security for the Province under MI6.
Nicholas John Ridley, the son of an officer in the Central Indian Horse, was born on March 25 1941 at Quetta (now in Pakistan) where his father was at the Army Staff College. His mother was the daughter of the college commandant, General Christison. His grandfather, General Sir Philip Christison, was a distinguished corps commander in the Burma Campaign.
Nicholas was educated at Shrewsbury where he was a music scholar and an athlete. In 1962 he was commissioned from Sandhurst into 1QO HLDRS and, having joined D Company, served on operations in Brunei, Borneo and Sarawak during the Confrontation with Indonesia."
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