Stoker 1st Class Arthur Riddell

Stoker 1st Class Arthur Riddell, Royal Navy. He was lost at sea on the 1st January 1943 aboard H.M.S. “Fidelity” aged 31. He had been born in Selkirk in 1912 and was the son of the late Thomas and Maud Riddell of Halliday’s Park, Selkirk. He is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. The ” Fidelity” was a general cargo ship of 2,300 tons which was converted into an auxiliary warship and used as a special service vessel by the Special Operations Executive to land agents, pick up escaped prisoners and take part in small scale sabotage operations. In 1942 she was refitted as a commando carrier for operations in S.E. Asia.. In December 1942 with “T” Company, 40 Commando aboard she joined convoy ON 154 en route to the Far East. On the 29th December she fell out of the convoy with engine problems and on the 30th December 1942 she was torpedoed by U-435 and sunk with all aboard lost ( 274 crew 51 commandos and 44 survivors who had been picked from the ” Empire Shackleton” which had been sunk earlier. The only survivors were the crew of her motor launch which had been detached on patrol and the crew of her float plane which had crash landed days earlier and picked up by another ship. The U-Boat commander, Strelow, estimated about 300 men in the water but did not assist in any way. At the Nurnberg trials this was taken as tacit encouragement to ensure there would be no survivors. ( U-435 was sunk with all hands off Figueira, Portugal on 9th July by a Wellington bomber from 179 Squadron R.A.F.).

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