Ralph Claridge enlisted when war was declared in August 1914. He was a poultry farmer, the beloved only son of the widowed John Claridge of Hectorville, South Australia.
Ralph took part in the dawn landing at Anzac Cove. A few months later he was shot in the right arm, and evacuated to hospital in Egypt. He returned to the peninsular, still ready to put himself in extreme danger to help a mate.
Claridge, promoted to Sergeant, went on to fight in France. At the battle of Poziers he was shot again, in the same arm. Described as ‘mild’ in the report sent to his father, the injury was anything but. He was evacuated to England, and spent a long period in the military hospital at Wandsworth, on the south bank of the Thames.
It was here that Claridge’s portrait was painted by the Australian artist and medical orderly George Coates.
The portrait was titled FOR THE EMPIRE – a wounded Anzac.
In his will, Lieut. Claridge left £50 to Hilda. She spent £30 purchasing the portrait from its creator, George Coates.
For some reason she allowed artist Will Ashton to make several changes to it, including altering the collar of the overcoat and exposing more of Claridge’s hand. She later said ‘Sometimes I have wondered whether I was wise in permitting that, but ’tis too late to dwell on it now.‘
Below is a photo of the original portrait;
A biographical piece appeared in the Adelaide publication The Journal after his death. It concluded;
‘…he fell in action on April 25, after three years of strenuous and gallant service for the Empire.
Claridge was honoured in the 2018 ANZAC service at the Australian War Memorial CLICK HERE