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John Ryan Cridland


Wing Commander John Ryan Cridland DFC- Service No. 90459. RAF Auxiliary A.F. Born 3rd December 1910. Died 31st May 1943 aged 32. Grave Ref 18.D.9 Medjez-el-Bab, Tunisia. His father was Henry James Cridland and mother Rachael Mary Cridland of Stoke Bishop, Bristol.

Above Wing Commander John Ryan Cridland DFC

He attended Radley College from 1924 to 1928.

2nd Lieut. J.R.Cridland joined the 4th (City of Bristol) Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment in 1931 from Radley College O.T.C. Lieut. J. R. Cridland resigned his commission in 1936.

It was announced in The Times on the 4th October 1937

The marriage arranged between Mr. John Ryan Cridland, of Clifton, Bristol, and Miss Merrill Corry Gotto, of Adelaide Park, Belfast, will not now take place.

On 5th July 1938 Pilot Officer Cridland was commissioned into the Auxiliary Air Force (General Duties Branch). He moved to R.A.F. Hawarden, near Chester. The base is now owned by BAE Systems and produces aircraft wings for the Airbus.

He was made a Flying Officer on 5th January 1940.

It was announced in The Times on 25th January 1940


The marriage between John Ryan Cridland, Flying Officer, R.A.F., and Jean Patricia Croom-Johnson will take place at St. Mary Magdalene's, Stoke Bishop, Bristol, on Saturday, June 29, at 1.30 o'clock. Owing to the war the marriage will be a quiet one. Friends will be welcome at the church.

On July 3rd 1940 in The Times, this marriage was confirmed. It said

CRIDLAND : CROOM-JOHNSON.-On June 29, 1940, at St. Mary Magdalene, Stoke Bishop, by the Rev. C. E. Tomkinson, assisted by the Rev. Canon S. R. Worters, JOHN RYAN CRIDLAND, Flying Officer, R.A.F., younger son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Cridland, to JEAN PATRICIA, elder daughter of Mr. and Mrs STRAFFORD CROOM-JOHNSON.

to be added

Above St. Mary Magdalene, Stoke Bishop, Bristol where John Cridland was married. It is situated on Mariner's Drive where he lived and where his son was born.

On 18th February 1941 Flt. Lt. Cridland was posted to No. 501 Squadron (County of Gloucester) at Filton, Bristol for flying duties from R.A.F. Hawarden.

On 1st March 1942 he was promoted to Squadron Leader.

John was in the family firm called "Cridland and Rose" which made boots and shoes. The factory was bombed out in the second world war. He joined the RAF some time before war broke out and was with the old 501 Squadron at Filton. During the war, he fought in the Battle for France, trained fighter pilots somewhere up near Chester, and then was a liaison officer in North Africa. He was a Wing Commander and was awarded the DFC. He was killed on May 31, 1943, when his Hurricane came down and is buried about 30 miles SW of Tunis.

Above the Medjez-el-Bab Cemetry in Tunisia.

In May 1943, the war in North Africa came to an end in Tunisia with the defeat of the Axis powers by a combined Allied force. The campaign began on 8 November 1942, when Commonwealth and American troops made a series of landings in Algeria and Morocco. The Germans responded immediately by sending a force from Sicily to northern Tunisia, which checked the Allied advance east in early December. In the south, the Axis forces defeated at El Alamein withdrew into Tunisia along the coast through Libya, pursued by the Allied Eighth Army. By mid April 1943, the combined Axis force was hemmed into a small corner of north-eastern Tunisia and the Allies were grouped for their final offensive. Medjez-el-Bab was at the limit of the Allied advance in December 1942 and remained on the front line until the decisive Allied advances of April and May 1943. There are 2,903 Commonwealth servicemen of the Second World War buried or commemorated in MEDJEZ-EL-BAB WAR CEMETERY. 385 of the burials are unidentified. Special memorials commemorate three soldiers buried in Tunis (Borgel) Cemetery and one in Youks-les-Bains Cemetery, whose graves are now lost. Within the cemetery stands the MEDJEZ-EL-BAB MEMORIAL, bearing the names of almost 2,000 men of the First Army who died during the operations in Algeria and Tunisia between 8 November 1942 and 19 February 1943, and those of the First and Eighth Armies who died in operations in the same areas between 20 February 1943 and 13 May 1943, and who have no known graves. The five First World War burials in Medjez-el-Bab War Cemetery were brought in from Tunis (Belvedere) Cemetery or in Carthage (Basilica Karita) Cemetery in 1950.

It was announced in The Times on 20th January 1943

CRIDLAND.-On Jan. 17, 1943, at Greenacre, Mariner's Drive, Stoke Bishop, Bristol, to JEAN (nee Croom-Johnson), wife of Wing Cmdr. J. R. CRIDLAND A.A.F. (now overseas) a son.

His son was named Alastair Ryan Cridland.

to be added

Above Cridland's home at Greenacre, Mariner's Drive, Stoke Bishop, Bristol.

John Ryan Cridland's death was announced in The Times on 5th June 1943. It said

CRIDLAND.-In May, 1943, on active service in North Africa, WING COMMANDER JOHN RYAN CRIDLAND, A.A.F., beloved husband of Jean, of Greenacre, Mariners Drive, Stoke Bishop, Bristol, and younger son of Mr. and Mrs. Cridland, of 119, Pembroke Road, Bristol.

His Obituary appeared in The Times on the 12th June 1943. It said

WING COMMANDER JOHN RYAN CRIDLAND whose death on active service in North Africa is announced, was the younger son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Cridland, of 119, Pembroke Road, Bristol. He was commissioned as a pilot officer in the Auxiliary Air Force on July 5, 1938, and appointed to No. 501 (County of Gloucester) Fighter Squadron. He was promoted flying officer shortly after war broke out, squadron leader in March, 1942, and wing commander recently. In June, 1940, he married Jean Patricia, elder daughter of Mr. and Mrs Stafford Croom-Johnson.

The engagement of John Ryan Cridland's widow, Jean, was announced in The Times on 24th April 1944, to Lieutenant-Colonel Alan Russell, the London Scottish, youngest son of the late Hon. Cyril and Mrs Russell. They were married on 2nd May 1944 at the Brompton Oratory.

His father Henry James Cridland died on 16th August 1944. It was announced in The Times on 18th August 1944. It said

CRIDLAND.- On Aug. 16, 1944, at Bristol, after a short illness, HENRY JAMES CRIDLAND, the dearly loved husband of Rachel Cridland, aged 75.

Above 119 Pembroke Road, Clifton, Bristol. His parents home.

Above John Cridland's name is on the Memorial Arch at Radley College. Dedicated to the old boys and staff killed in action. He is also in the book of rememberance in the chapel above the arch. The memorial book at Radley College says

CRIDLAND.- Killed on active service in North Africa, in May 1943, John Ryan Cridland, Wing Commander, A.A.F.

He was at Radley (Wilson-Green's, G) from 1924 to 1928 and , during most of this time, he as a companion in the school his elder brother, Francis. His career at Radley was of a particularly happy kind, he left only pleasant memories, and the news of his death must cause sorrow to all recall him. He was a cheerful person, -big, vigorous, with fresh complexion, clear eyes, and fair hair-good to look at; he applied himself with zest to work and to games, and in both achieved success, steady and continuous. In his subsequent career he showed himself an outward-looking man and fulfilled, more than fulfilled, his early promise. In his father's business, he worked with his customary keenness; he gave to his clients not only good merchandise but his friendship as well. He was a Territorial officer in the Gloucestershire Regiment from 1931 onwards. He transferred to the R.A.F. in 1938. He had the right soldierly qualities- unfailing courage, alertness, complete devotion. He became a very popular member of the R.A.F., greatly trusted, esteemed, and admired. His death called forth among his many friends, alike in civilian life and in the Army and Air Force, the same deeply felt sorrow and sense of grievous loss. We offer our expression of sympathy to his wife, whom he married in 1940, and to his relatives.

His grandson James Cridland runs a family website at He is Director of Digital Media at Virgin Radio, the nationwide rock/pop commercial radio station in the UK. He also has his own website at

Above the grandson James Cridland.