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William Arnold Ridley is Born

Today in Masonic History William Arnold Ridley is born in 1896.

William Arnold Ridley was a British actor and playwright.

Ridley was born on January 7th, 1896 in Walcot, Bath, Somerset, England. He attended the Clarendon School and the Bath City Secondary School. He attended Oxford University before leaving for the military. He was awarded an honorary Master of Arts degree from Oxford in 1969.

In 1914, Ridley volunteered for the Army to fight in World War I. He was intaitlly rejected because of a toe injury. In 1915 he enlisted again and was accepted into the Army as a private in the Somerset Light Infantry. He saw active combat during the war and was wounded several time. His left hand was virtually useless because of injuries he sustained. He also had shrapnel in his leg and was bayoneted in the groin. Due to a blow to the head by the butt of a German soldiers rifle he suffered the rest of his life from blackouts.

After leaving the Army, he began teaching at Morely College in London. He worked as a Drama tutor and taught Shakesperean acting. He also taught at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).

In the 1920s, Ridley joined the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. He remained there for two years and played more than 40 parts.

One night Ridley was starnded in a trainstation and was inspired to write the play The Ghost Train, a story about a group of travelers who are stranded in a haunted railway station. The play enjoyed 665 performances in London's West End and two revivals. It was also made into a move twice. In addition to The Ghost Train, Ridley wrote 30 other plays in his life. Some of his plays were specifically written for amateur dramatic groups. He often provided guidance to the groups.

During World War II, Ridley served in the Home Guard. A volunteer organization for those ineligiable to serve in the regular Army, in Ridley's case due to age. He served during the begining of World War II in a period known as the "phoney war." This was a period of about 8 months when Germany had invaded Poland and technically the United Kingdom and France had declared war, although they did notthing do prevent the invasion of Poland. It is believed from these experiences he developed his most famous character, Private Charles Godfrey, from the show "Dad's Amry." The show was set in World War II following the Home Guard.

Ridley passed away on March 12th, 1984.

Ridley was a member of the Savage Club Lodge No. 2190 in London, England.

This article provided by Brother Eric C. Steele.