20 June 1916 – The scorching desert

After an extensive search conducted by air, camel and armoured car the bodies of Second Lieutenant Stewart Gordon Ridley and 1st Class Air Mechanic John Albert Garside, both of 17 Squadron RFC were found, along with their broken down BE2c, in the desert.

17 Squadron has been carrying out reconnaissance of Senussi forces in South-West Egypt. Ridley and Garside had set off on 15 June, along with another BE2c to an advanced landing ground some 50 miles west of Kharga to make a reconnaissance of the nearby Dakhla Oasis the next day. Both pilots got lost on the way to the advanced ground and had to make a forced landing in the desert.

The next morning, the engine in one of the aeroplanes would not start, and the pilot in the second aeroplane flew off to get help. When he returned on the morning of 17 June, there was no sign of the disabled B.E.2c or Ridley and Garside.

Stewart Ridley

It appears from a diary left by Garside that they had eventually got the engine running, but after a 25 minute flight it failed again and they were forced to land. They got it running once more but after another short journey it had given up completely. It is reported that Ridley shot himself to give Garside a chance of survival, but unfortunately Garside succumbed to dehydration.

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