Matthew Ridgway

Matthew Ridgway, the son of Colonel Thomas Ridgway, an artillery officer, was born in Virginia, United States on 3rd March, 1895. He attended the West Point Military Academy and graduated in 1917 (56/139) and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army.

In 1918 he returned to West Point as an instructor in Spanish. After completing the officers course at the Infantry School at Fort Benning he was given command of the 15th Infantry in China. This was followed by a posting to Nicaragua where he helped supervise free elections in 1927.

Considered to be an expert on foreign affairs, Ridgway sat on a commission that adjudicated on Bolivia and Paraguay before becoming a military adviser to the Governor General of the Philippines in 1930. He also attended the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas (1935-37).

General George Marshall was impressed with Ridgway and took him to Brazil on a special assignment and soon after the outbreak of the Second World War he was sent to the War Plans Division in Washington.

In August 1942 Ridgway was promoted to brigadier general and given command of the 82nd Infantry Division, one of the Army's two parachute divisions. In the spring of 1943 Ridgway helped to plan the airborne operation that was part of the invasion of Sicily that began on 10th July, 1943. This was the first time in history that the US Army had used paratroopers in battle.

Ridgeway was also responsible for planning the airborne operation during the D-Day landings on 6th June 1944. This time Ridgeway jumped with his troops. The 82nd fought for 33 days in advancing to St-Sauveur-le-Vicomte.

In September 1944 Ridgway took command of the 18th Airborne Corps. He led his troops during the invasion of the Rhineland and Ardennes-Alsace and on 2nd May his troops joined up with the Red Army on the Baltic. On 4th June 1945 he was promoted to lieutenant general.

After the war Ridgway was Commander in Chief of the Caribbean Command (1948-49) before becoming Chief of Staff to Joe L. Collins. In 1950 he was given command of the 8th Army in Korea. He launched the counter-offensive on 25th January 1951 and when General Douglas MacArthur was recalled in April he was promoted to full general and became Commander in Chief of the Far East Command.

Ridgway replaced General Dwight D. Eisenhower as the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe on 30th May 1952. His decision to surround himself with American personal staff upset other European military leaders and he was brought back to the United States in July 1953 to replace General Joe L. Collins as chief of staff of the United States Army.

After retiring from the US Army in June 1955 he published his autobiography, The Memoirs of Matthew B. Ridgway (1956). Matthew Ridgway died in March 1993.

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