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Millions loved him as the mild-mannered Private Godfrey in TV comedy Dad’s Army.
But actor Arnold Ridley’s son Nicholas has revealed his father once tried to strangle him while suffering a terrifying flashback to the horrors of the Somme.‘Yes, my father was a hero – and one who paid the price throughout his life,’ says Nicholas, talking for the first time about the almost unspoken subject that coloured his childhood.
He recalled: ‘I was still suffering from shell shock, blue with cold and in considerable pain. “My battalion is famous for self-inflicted wounds, and just to make sure, I cracked my skull with a rifle butt as well and ran a bayonet into my groin.”’ Nicholas Ridley, now a 61-year-old father of three, says: ‘My father’s injuries and mental trauma caused him to suffer throughout his life.'He had bad feet – “twisted like a tramp’s”, he’d say – caused by conditions in the trenches.
He had terrible headaches and he’d awake from sleep drenched in sweat.'He lost all his teeth. And he had shrapnel coming out of his back for years.
Only 18 percent said things for the country got better, 33 percent said things got worse, and 47 percent said it was unchanged from 2015.
I have no inkling of what happened to him in those months before he was rescued, as it was apparently too appalling for words.
‘But to build yourself up again and become a sane, relatively healthy person with only minor neuroses, a man with compassion and sensitivity, and concern for others, is such an astounding achievement.
That, in my eyes, made him a great man.’* Arnold Ridley’s story will appear in October’s Saga magazine.
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