Many of the collections have documents relating to family members who bravely fought in one of the great wars.

The ‘Ridout Special Collection’ is no different, except for the sheer amount of information it has on one particular family member who died at the tender age of 19.

Personal letters that Gaspard Ridout wrote to his mother before he died really help to build the picture of a brave young man who was desperate to make his father proud, whilst the official documents give us real insight into how this young man died in an unprecedented German attack that unfortunately left many others dead. Combined they are a touching account of a young man’s short life.

Gaspard Ridout died on 21 March 1918 which was the first day of the last great German offensive. Operation "Michel" was opened with a 6,000 gun barrage which delivered a lethal gas attack deep into Allied lines. At one point, the Germans advanced 14 miles in one day, more than at any other time during the fighting in the West. During the first six weeks of fighting, the Allies lost 350,000 casualties, but more troops were rushed in from across the channel, and American units began arriving for the first time.

A postcard written by Gaspard Ridout shortly before his death along with his certificate of death and a war grave commission addressed to his grieving mother.

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An Inventory document detailing a wrist watch, strap and guard.

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One of many personal and touching letters written by Gaspard Ridout to his mother.

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Gaspard Ridout’s grave.

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