|Born||16 February 1908
|Died||29 June 1986 (aged 78)
At sea off Guernsey
|Years of service||1926–1950|
|Battles/wars||World War II :
St. Nazaire Raid
Croix de guerre
Polar Medal with clasp
|Relations||Son of Colonel Charles Henry Dudley Ryder (CB, CIE, DSO)|
|Other work||Member of Parliament for Merton and Morden|
Robert Edward Dudley Ryder VC (16 February 1908 — 29 June 1986) was a Royal Navy officer and a British recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. He became a Conservative Member of Parliament after retiring from the navy.
Ryder was born in India in 1908 to Colonel Charles Henry Dudley Ryder, CB, CIE, DSO, Surveyor General of India, and Ida Josephine Grigg. He was a great-grandson of the Right Reverend Henry Ryder, youngest son of Nathaniel Ryder, 1st Baron Harrowby. Ryder had two brothers; both were killed in the Second World War. Lisle Charles Dudley Ryder died in the Le Paradis massacre of 1940 in France. Ernle Terrick Dudley Ryder died in captivity after the defence of Singapore. Ryder was educated at Hazelhurst School and Cheltenham College before he entered the Royal Navy in 1926.
Ryder served on several ships throughout his career. He served as a Midshipman on the battleship HMS Ramillies from 1927 to 1929. As a Lieutenant he served in the submarine HMS Olympus as part of the 4th Flotilla in China from 1930 to 1933. Ryder also commanded several expeditions. This included captaining the ketch Tai-Mo-Shan on a 16,217 mile voyage from Hong Kong to Dartmouth, England during 1933–1934. From 1934 to 1937 he captained the schooner Penola during the British Graham Land Expedition in Antarctica.
When the Second World War started, Ryder was serving as a Lieutenant Commander on HMS Warspite. In 1940, he was promoted to Commander of the frigate HMS Fleetwood and in 1941, he went on to captain the Prince Philippe which sank after a collision in the Firth of Clyde. Ryder, now a Commander led the St. Nazaire Raid, codenamed Operation Chariot on 28 March 1942. This was a successful operation to destroy the "Normandie Dock" in the German naval base in the town. The stated aim of the operation was to deny large German ships, particularly the German battleship Tirpitz, a base on the Atlantic coast. For his actions during this operation he was one of five people awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award for valour of the British Empire.
The official citation:
The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the Victoria Cross for daring and valour in the attack on the German Naval Base at St. Nazaire, to:
Commander Robert Edward Dudley Ryder, Royal Navy.
For great gallantry in the attack on St. Nazaire. He commanded a force of small unprotected ships in an attack on a heavily defended port and led H.M.S. Campbeltown in under intense fire from short range weapons at point blank range. Though the main object of the expedition had been accomplished in the beaching of Campbeltown, he remained on the spot conducting operations, evacuating men from Campbeltown and dealing with strong points and close range weapons while exposed to heavy fire for one hour and sixteen minutes, and did not withdraw till it was certain that his ship could be of no use in rescuing any of the Commando Troops who were still ashore. That his Motor Gun Boat, now full of dead and wounded, should have survived and should have been able to withdraw through an intense barrage of close range fire was almost a miracle.
Ryder took part in the Allied attack on the German-occupied port of Dieppe, Seine-Inférieure on the Northern coast of France on 19 August 1942. The Dieppe Raid was largely a failure but it helped influence planning for Operation Overlord, the landings at D-Day. Ryder achieved a final rank of Captain in 1948. He commanded the research vessel Penola on the Rymill Expedition to the Antarctic and later served as naval attaché at Oslo.
Following his naval career, he stood for election to the Houses of Commons as the Conservative Party candidate for Merton and Morden at the 1950 general election. He was elected and served as the MP for five years. He died on 29 June 1986, whilst on the yacht Watchdog during a sailing trip to France. He is buried in Headington Crematorium, Oxford.
- Victoria Cross; gazetted 19 May 1942
- Légion d'honneur
- Croix de guerre
- 4 Mentions in despatches:
- Polar Medal with clasp
- Reluctant Hero: The Life of Captain Robert Ryder VC. By Richard Hopton. The first biography of Robert Ryder.
Robert Ryder does not have a CWGC entry as he died in 1986. The entry listed here is for Lisle Charles Dudley Ryder a Major in the Royal Norfolk regiment who died in 1940
- CWGC entry
- "The Papers of Robert Ryder". Janus, University of Cambridge. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
- "HMS Campbeltown Commemorates the Raid on St Nazaire 28 March 1942". Royal Navy. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
- The London Gazette: . 19 May 1942. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
- "Victoria Crosses held by the IWM". VictoriaCross.org. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
- The London Gazette: . 30 October 1951. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
- "Victoria Cross recipients burial locations: Oxfordshire". VictoriaCross.org. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
- The London Gazette: . 2 October 1942. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
- The London Gazette: . 10 November 1944. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
- The London Gazette: . 15 December 1944. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
- British VCs of World War 2 (John Laffin, 1997)
- Monuments To Courage (David Harvey, 1999)
- The Register of the Victoria Cross (This England, 1997)
- E.J. Ryder, Antoni Chmielowski
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Robert Ryder
- Robert RYDER of Cheltenham College
- Location of grave and VC medal (Oxfordshire)
- HMS Campbeltown and the Raid on St. Nazaire (detailed description of the action)
- The St. Nazaire Society (Operation Chariot)
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|New constituency||Member of Parliament for Merton and Morden
1950 – 1955