‘Truly dedicated’ Second World War veteran dies

George Erridge, Eastbourne veteran,
George Erridge, Eastbourne veteran,

A WAR veteran who took part in the Russian convoys during the Second World War has died at the age of 87.

George Erridge, who passed away at the DGH earlier this month, played a key role in establishing the local Royal Naval Old Comrades Club in Beach Road and help raised funds for Eastbourne’s sea cadet unit.

Born in June 1924, Mr Erridge was part of a well known local fishing family but, rather than follow in his relatives footsteps, he instead joined the Navy in 1942.

After training at HMS Ganges , HMS Valkyrie and HMS Collingwood he was drafted to the River Class frigate HMS Glenarm in July 1943. There he stayed for the next year before he was ordered aboard the Destroyer HMS Troubridge, on which he served until being demobbed in May 1946.

He was a member of the Russian Convoy Veterans Association and, in recognition for the part he played in helping to supply beleaguered Russian people during the war, he was awarded a White Star medal – presented by the Russian Government to honour those who worked the perilous Arctic convoys.

In 1951 he was recalled to the Navy to serve on HMS Peregrine during the Korean War, returning to civvy street in October 1952.

Away from the Navy Mr Erridge found he missed the camaraderie of life at sea, so much so that he began to regular meet up with other veterans for a drink and a chat. Their meetings would take place in a host of local establishments, including the Windsor Tavern and a room behind a fish and chip shop in North Street.

With the Second World War over and the number of ex servicemen steadily growing, Mr Erridge and his friends began looking to establish a permanent base.

The old Toc H building in Beach Road came on the market and, with Mr Erridge leading the fundraising effort with his trademark enthusiasm and determination, the veterans managed to secure enough cash to buy and refurbish the building. The Royal Naval Old Comrades Club was now open and has remained ever since.

Close friend Anthony Griffiths was among those to pay tribute to Mr Erridge, who lived in Riverbourne House in Belmore Road.

He said, “It would be no exaggeration to say that he has worked tirelessly for ‘his’ club from that day on.

“Starting as a founder member he went on to serve 17 years as chairman and then become the club’s president, in which he was still serving when he died.

“Energetic, innovative and forward looking he was the perfect man to have at the helm. In addition to this he would also, somehow, find the time and energy to work at fundraising for one of his pet projects, TS Eastbourne, the local sea and marine cadet unit.

“He was a truly dedicated man, the like of which we shall not see again.

“They say all good men are missed, he surely will be.”