The previous post told of the early life of John Ripley V.C., up to the point of his being decorated with the Victoria Cross on 12 July 1915 by King George V. The photograph above shows him being congratulated while leaving the Palace. John returned to St Andrews on Friday 16 July His return to the town had been eagerly anticipated and there had been a few false alarms before his actual arrival by train. Now a hero and well-known name, john was "accorded a right royal welcome, the citizens turning out en masse to show their admiration of the hero for his gallant deed which had won for him the premier military decoration".
Several buildings, including the station and the town hall had been decorated with bunting. Exploding fog signals had been laid on the railway track for the arrival of his train. [Learn more about fog signals here and see and hear them in action here.] "Deafening cheers resounded from those waiting on the platform and the waiting crowd of thousands outside. Then there was the rush to shake hands by all who could get near enough". Sergeant Ripley was conveyed by carriage to the town hall. In a gesture of admiration, soldiers had unyoked the horses, so that they could pull the carriage along themselves. Spectators crowded the whole route.
Film footage of this return home was captured, as the above advert from the 22 July East of Fife Record promoted a "splendid picture" presented by The East of Fife Electric Cinema Company Limited being shown in Anstruther Town Hall of his arrival back in St Andrews. Meanwhile, of course the Great War raged on. John had been appointed acting Sergeant and undertook recruiting duties in Edinburgh. The image below featured in the 17 August 1915 Daily Record. Further below is a photograph of John giving a recruiting speech to supporters at a match between Hibernian and Queen's Park (23 August 1915 Daily Record).
Above is a picture of John signing autograph cards in Aberdeen while accompanying the Caledonian hospital train (15 September Daily Record). From 1914, trains were ordered by the War Office from UK Railway Companies. These were painted khaki colour and had large red and white Geneva crosses on the sides.
On 30 October 1915, John was honoured in St Andrews with a presentation from the citizens of the town at the Council Chambers. Provost Cheape presided and members of the town council were present. John was accompanied by his brother Joseph of the Scottish Horse. The photograph above shows from left to right, John Ripley's brother Joseph, Bailie Hall and John (1 November 1915 Daily Record). John was presented with an inscribed silver casket, containing a war loan scrip and a purse of sovereigns.
Discharged from the army in March 1919, John returned to work as a slater and chimney sweep in St Andrews, while also resuming his roles in the local Fire Brigade and Rocket Brigade. John became a member of the United Services Association and The British Legion and chairman of the St Andrews Branch of The Comrades, which later merged with The British Legion. On 23 July 1933, John attended the drumhead service of the Fife British Legion and was photographed (see below) shaking the hand of fellow V.C. holder Lt-Col. W. Robertson.
Only three weeks later, on 14 August 1933 John Ripley died in an accident. He fell from a ladder while testing pipes and drains at Castlecliffe House, The Scores, St Andrews and died later the same day from his injuries at St Andrews Cottage Hospital. He was 66 years of age. John's funeral with military honours took place on 17 August, from St Andrews Cottage Hospital to Upper Largo cemetery where his wife was buried. A carrying party of six sergeants, three pipers and a bugler came from the Black Watch depot at Perth.
The oak casket was covered by a Union Jack and there were a large number of beautiful wreaths. The St Andrews route was lined with sympathetic spectators (see image below). All the ex-servicemen in the procession were wearing their medals and decorations and there was a V.C. in the procession. At West Port mourners entered buses and motor cars for the journey to Upper Largo. On arrival there, the procession was reformed. The pipers played a lament as they made their way up the road leading to the cemetery. Six sergeants bore the coffin from the entrance to the graveside. After the casket had been lowered, the pipers played a lament and the bugler sounded the Last Post and then Reveille.
The headstone at John's final resting place can be seen below. His wife, her parents and her sisters are also buried there. An inscription relating to John's V.C. was added at the base of the stone in 2001 featuring the Black Watch crest. John was survived by his son Alexander who had emigrated to the United States after the war. John Ripley was much missed in St Andrews and by his many friends scattered far and wide. He was immortalised in a Great War series of cigarette cards (see below). One of the "bravest of the brave" he remained down-to-earth and gracious.