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The Airmen's Stories - F/Lt. E N Ryder


Edgar Norman Ryder was born at Risalpur, India on 28th November 1914 and returned to England aged ten. He joined the Royal Fusiliers at Hounslow in 1931 and served until 1934, then becoming a mathematics master at Tredennick School, Worcester.

Ryder joined the RAF on a short service commission in August 1936. He went to 9 FTS Thornaby on 31st October and joined 41 Squadron at Catterick on 30th June 1937.

Still with the squadron, Ryder took off alone on 3rd April 1940 in bad visibility and low cloud to investigate an enemy aircraft. He sighted a He111 and shot it down into the sea off Redcar, the crew got out and were picked up by a trawler.

His own aircraft was losing power and he came down on the sea, his aircraft sinking immediately. At considerable depth he extricated himself, struggled to the surface and was picked up by the trawler Alaskan. He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 18th April 1940).


Above: accompanied by his mother he received the DFC from the King.


On 15th August Ryder probably destroyed a Ju88, on 5th September he destroyed two Me109s, on the 6th destroyed another, on the 7th got a probable Me109 and damaged a Do17, on the 9th destroyed another Me109, on the 10th damaged a Ju88 and on the 15th shared a Do17.


Above: F/O JN McKenzie, F/O ADJ Lovell, S/Ldr. DO Finlay, F/Lt. EN Ryder, Sgt. RC Ford.


Ryder was shot down by Me109s during a squadron patrol on 27th September and baled out, unhurt. His Spitfire, R6755, crashed and burned out at East Malling.

He probably destroyed a Me109 on 25th October and destroyed another on 30th October.

On 27th November Ryder was in combat over Ashford and shot down Me109 1653, flown by Fw. Wilhelm Erdniss of 3./JG51. The 109 came down at Horton Park, Monks Horton outside Ashford. Erdniss was captured and taken to Hawkinge where he gave up an Iron Cross, asking that it be passed on to the pilot who shot him down. The CO sent it to Ryder.

In 1960 Ryder met up with Erdniss in Germany and returned it (below).



In January 1941 Ryder was given command of 56 Squadron at North Weald. He was appointed to lead the Kenley Wing in June and was awarded a Bar to the DFC (gazetted 29th July 1941).

On 31st October 1941 Ryder was leading the Wing on Circus 109 in Spitfire Vb W3579 (presentation aircraft Southland II). Over Dunkirk he was shot down by flak and captured. He escaped from his prison camp and reached Poland but was recaptured in 1943.

Ryder received a Mention in Despatches (gazetted 28th December 1945) for distinguished service whilst a PoW.

He was made a member of the Order of Orange-Nassau and a CBE (gazetted 1st January 1958). Ryder retired from the RAF on 28th October 1960 as a Group Captain.

His portrait was made by Cuthbert Orde in January 1941 (below).




Ryder settled in Arizona in the USA and died there in 1995.


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