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Old 14-07-2017, 20:10
seashell226 seashell226 is offline
Ordinary Seaman
Join Date: Jul 2017
Posts: 4
Default Richelieu query

Hello, I'm trying to find out some more information about my grandfather Lieutenant Benjamin Ridge RNVR, who served aboard the FS Richelieu in the Eastern Fleet in 1944.

He was awarded the Croix de Guerre in November 1944 for a special mission undertaken from 1st to 6th September 1944. I am trying to find any information about the mission as he never spoke about his time other than to say he was based at Trincomalee.

I have spoken to the National Museum of the Royal Navy at Portsmouth & their records state that he was serving on the Queen Elizabeth between June - October 1944, so we don't know why he ended up serving on the Richelieu during this time. They have no record of him being awarded the Croix de Guerre, so the letter we have with his medal is the only record.

Any advice on where to do further research would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you
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Old 15-07-2017, 08:04
EwenS EwenS is offline
Leading Seaman
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 30
Default Re: Richelieu query

Queen Elizabeth was flagship of the Eastern Fleet at this time and Richelieu also served there between April 1944 and Sept 1944. During this time the official histories note that Richelieu took part in Operations Cockpit in April, Transom in May, Pedal in June and Crimson in July.

After that she spent some time in Colombo, returning to Trincomalee in time for her captain to decline use of Admiralty Floating Dock 28 at the beginning of August (close call when it collapsed around Valiant on the 8th August).

On 6th Sept she Richelieu received orders to sail for Algiers and sailed on the 7th arriving on the 23rd. No mention of any secret missions.

I've taken this from French Battleships 1922 to 1956 by John Jordan and Robert Dumas which is supposed to be the best authority on the subject.

I suspect that your grandfather may have been seconded from the flagship QE to the Richelieu as a liaison officer and the posting was cut short by her orders to return to Algiers for refit at which point he returned to the flagship before any official paperwork could be processed.

At this time the French were keen to curry favour with the USA and the British to ensure that their navy could have a continuing role in the war at sea. The USA were not interested in their ships so that left the Eastern Fleet. Without wanting to diminish your grandfather's contribution to the war, maybe they thought that a few awards might help in that. After refit Richelieu returned to the Far East in Jan 1945.

As every foreign warship attached to the RN had them, I wonder if any of the other liaison officers were similarly rewarded by the French after their service.

I've now seen your post elsewhere on this website and reply also suggesting the possibility of your grandfather being a liaison officer.

Last edited by EwenS : 15-07-2017 at 08:26.
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Old 16-07-2017, 08:39
Jean Lassaque Jean Lassaque is offline
Petty Officer
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Paris (France)
Posts: 42
Default Re: Richelieu query

Hello all
During the relevant period, Richelieu arrived Trincomalee Aug 8, 1944. She was at sea for training Aug 23 and Sep 2. Left Trinco Sep 7 for Suez.
No doubt this person was posted as BNLO with Richelieu but the Croix de guerre is questionable.
Such medal was issued further to a citation (i.e. mention in dispatch) referring to gallantry in a combat action and issued by government (by then in Algiers) on proposal from the commander. In this case, Richelieu's captain had had no time for.
You'd investigate whether this person had previously any commitment with the french navy (or army) deserving a citation, so that a Croix de guerre might have been issued in september 1944 as a regularization.
You mention a letter. Please feel free to make me know it. That might help.
All the best.
J. Lassaque
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Old 23-07-2017, 18:54
seashell226 seashell226 is offline
Ordinary Seaman
Join Date: Jul 2017
Posts: 4
Default Re: Richelieu query

Hello Jean, thanks for your information. Here is a link to a copy of the letter awarded with the Croix de Guerre.
Let me know if the link doesn't work and I will happy to email you a copy instead.
Kind regards,
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Old Yesterday, 10:47
Gwyrosydd's Avatar
Gwyrosydd Gwyrosydd is offline
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Garrison Creek, Fort York, Upper Canada
Posts: 874
Default Re: Richelieu query

Originally Posted by seashell226 View Post
Hello Jean, thanks for your information. Here is a link to a copy of the letter awarded with the Croix de Guerre.
Let me know if the link doesn't work and I will happy to email you a copy instead.
Kind regards,
Very interesting: Here's a transcription and translation of Michelle's letter:

"Officier énergique, plein d'initiative et d'allant, qui possède tout le cran et l'énergie de la Marine dont il porte la tenue. Accompagnant en qualité d'officiers de Radar un sous-groupement tactique chargé d'une mission spéciale, du 1 au 6 Séptember 1944, il l'a conduit énergiquement et ave beaucoup d'à-propos.

Bien qu'ayant des blessures sévères, il est resté à son porte afin d'accomplir sa mission, et fut fait prisonnier. Le lendemain il saisit l'opportunité de se rendre libre, s'échappa de ses gardiens, a réussi ainsi à rejondre ses compagnons er à rentrer à sa base avec les reseignements essentiel au succés des opérations futures dans l'Extrème Orient.

Cette citation comporte l'attribution de la Croix de Guerre, et je demande à tout de s'y joindre leurs affectueuses félicitations pour un magnifique acte de valeur.

Le capitaine de vaisseau DU VIGNEUX
Commandant le RICHELIEU"

An energetic officer, full of initiative and go, who possesses all the courage and energy of the Navy whose uniform he wears. Accompanying as a Radar officer a tactical subgroup charged with a special mission, from 1 to 6 September 1944, he led it energetically and with much appropriateness.

Although he had severe wounds, he remained at his post in order to accomplish his mission, and was taken prisoner. The next day he seized the opportunity to make himself free, escaped from his guards, succeeded in rejoining his companions and returning to his base with the essential information to the success of future operations in the Far East.

This citation comprises the award of the Croix de Guerre, and I ask all to join their affectionate congratulations for a magnificent act of valour.

Captain of the vessel DU VIGNEUX
Commanding the RICHELIEU
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