Tributes paid to 'proper gentleman' Lancaster bomber airman

Alf Ridpath and his Lancaster Crew.
Alfred Ridpath with RAF crew and Lancaster Bomber which he flew in during World War II Credit: Liverpool Echo

Tributes have been paid to a “true gentleman” former Lancaster bomber airman who has died aged 100. 

Born in 1922, Alfred ‘Alf’ Ridpath, joined the RAF at the start of World War II aged just 17 and flew missions over Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe.

From 1947 onwards he lived with his wife and son in the same house in West Derby, Liverpool, that he bought with the £100 he received on leaving the forces. 

Alf Ridpath and crew during his time in the RAF Credit: Liverpool Echo

Friends of the widower have been quick to pay tribute after he died on 17 January, just weeks after turning 100.

Alf's carer of 12 years Berna McCarthy said: "Alf was a true gentleman. He was just a pleasure.

"He was absolutely fine when I first went to work there and over the years he developed dementia, but he was still absolutely wonderful.

"He was just a lovely lovely man, he didn't have a bad word to say about anybody - he was very witty."

Berna described Alf as a "real family man" who loved his holidays and said she will miss his smile, laughter, conversation and singing the most.

Alf, who was a keen artist, worked for Mersey Docks and Harbour Board in later life and was also a familiar face as a steward at Anfield's turnstiles in retirement.

Alf Ridpath at home Credit: Liverpool Echo

Berna said: "He looked after his son David up until he was 88. David was disabled and Alf would do all his driving and shopping.

"He was just a really lovely family man.

"Although he had dementia he was very on the ball. He was very articulate and well educated."

To many, Alf was an "entertainer" and Berna also has fond memories of spending Christmas with Alf and David.

Paying tribute, one of Alf's long-time carers, Jo Reece, said: "He was so loving and he always spoke about his pals from the Lancaster crew, he never forgot about them.

"He was such a lovely man and such a gentleman

"He was so funny, he had us in fits of laughter. We always looked forward to seeing him."

Shannon Farrell became one of Alf's carers in June last year and described him as "one in a million".

Shannon said: "When I was going in on my first day, I was going in to meet a man who is 99 and the first time I saw him, you just wouldn't think he was 99.

"He was amazing. He was just always so happy and he was like one of our own, he quickly became family.

"He used to sing all these little songs and you always went home singing one of them.

Alf had been given a surprise 100th birthday party on December 10, 2022, which had been organised at his favourite cafe in West Derby.

Speaking at the party about his role in the war, Alf said: "I never gave it any thought. It was who I was and what I was." He added: "I did what I had to do".