Lieutenant Ralph Elsmere Claridge - PART 1

Story
Posted on 15 March 2022

223 Lieutenant Ralph Elsmere Claridge, 50th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Ralph Claridge was born in Auburn, South Australia, on 11 July 1892, the only child born to John and Serena Claridge.

The family moved to Port Pirie in 1899 but by 1902 the Claridges had moved to East Adelaide. That year, Serena, who had been suffering with pneumonia, died at home, leaving John to raise their son.

Claridge attended Marryatville Public School and then Prince Alfred College. While studying at college, he was a member of the senior cadets. He went on to study at the School of Mines, where he studied wool classing.

While in Adelaide he met Hilda Giles of Unley. They began a relationship, and became engaged.

In 1913, Claridge moved with his father to Hectorville where they started a poultry farm they called Brackley.

On 19 August 1914, soon after the outbreak of the First World War, Claridge enlisted, joining the 10th Battalion which was being raised at the Morphettville Racecourse.

After a brief period of training, Claridge embarked with the 10th Battalion from Outer Harbour, Adelaide, on 20 October 1914 aboard the transport ship Ascanius. Initially destined for England, the first AIF convoy was directed to stop in Egypt instead. Further training in the desert followed before Australian troops were committed to the planned campaign at Gallipoli.

The 10th Battalion left Egypt at the beginning of March 1915 and sailed for Lemnos. Claridge was amongst the first wave of troops ashore at Gallipoli in the pre-dawn hours of the 25th of April.

After enduring the initial burst of fighting, he was wounded in the right arm on the 19th of May during the Ottoman counter attack which had aimed to drive the Australians and New Zealanders back into the sea.

He was evacuated back to Egypt to recover, but returned at the end of July and was promoted lance corporal in September. Claridge’s Gallipoli campaign came to an end in November when the 10th Battalion was withdrawn for a well-earned rest.