Ralph Hebden – Friend and Comrade – R.I.P.
Last seen alive early on the morning of 11th March, Ralph had been heading out for his regular morning run near the Arbroath cliffs. His body was recovered from the sea three weeks later, a few miles further up the coast at Carlingheugh Bay.
Extensive land, air and sea searches had taken place in recent weeks, and several nationalist activists in Scotland had been interrogated by police, who seemed to be under the impression that Ralph’s disappearance had something to do with his politics.
Ralph married fellow Liverpudlian Sarah last year, and was looking forward to becoming a father for the first time. His daughter was born four days after his disappearance.
Serving with the elite 45 Commando, based at RM Condor near Arbroath, Ralph completed several tours of duty in Afghanistan and was drafted in to assist with anti-terrorist security operations for the London Olympics last year.
Ralph’s unit were long-term specialists in Arctic and mountain warfare, but found themselves deployed in very different mountain operations against the Taleban, as well as peacekeeping in Helmand province.
As a lifelong nationalist activist, Ralph was very well aware of the political abuse of our armed forces in operations that have nothing to do with protecting Britain. Nevertheless he did his duty and had an outstanding military record.
The same spirit of loyalty was evident in Ralph’s relations with fellow nationalist comrades, and he remained immune from the factional backbiting that characterises so much of our movement. Even when he was targeted for abuse by a former Nick Griffin bodyguard, Ralph refused to respond in kind.
I have known Ralph since the late 1990s, when he attended BNP meetings across Lancashire, including one event in Todmorden that was attacked by “anti-fascists”. Ralph became a regular at the monthly meetings I addressed in central Manchester until 2002, and in 1999 he accompanied Nick Griffin and myself as personal security inside the European election count at St George’s Hall, Liverpool.
After I split from Griffin in 2002, Ralph became an important contact for Heritage and Destiny inside the North West BNP, building bridges between various factions and regularly attending H&D events, including all three John Tyndall Memorial events in Preston, Lancashire.
Frequently travelling through Preston on his way between the Arbroath base and his family home in Liverpool, Ralph would stop off for a drink with the H&D team, and last year he and his future wife Sarah were our hosts in Liverpool – even though my team Oldham were playing against their team Liverpool at Anfield!
Following the death last year of his comrade and mentor John Fearns, ex-organiser of Liverpool BNP, Ralph was the author of an obituary published in H&D.
When Ralph told me last October that he was about to become a father as well as a stepfather, I could see how happy he was to be starting a family. Heritage and Destiny sends deepest sympathy to Sarah, her new born daughter, and all of Ralph’s family, friends and comrades at this tragic time.