Eric Gordon Ritchie
8th Battalion Black Watch, Royal Highlanders
Died 1st October 1918 age 19
Private E. G. Ritchie – Royal Hrs.
Eric Gordon Ritchie was born on Christmas Day 1898 at Craigour Road, Torphins, and appears in the 1901 census aged two, the baby of a family of six children – five boys and a girl ranged in age between 16 and 2. In 1901 they were living with their blacksmith father William and mother Mary at Boothnagowan, Torphins. William himself was born in Kincardine O’ Neil and Mary in Fintry, the first three children were born Birse and the final 3 in the parish of Kincardine O’Neil.
Ritchie became a Private in the 8th Bn Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) (no. S23113, formerly no. 2352 of the 38th T.R. Battn). His brother Cecil (five years older) followed in their father’s footsteps and became a blacksmith, and possibly on that account was granted temporary exemptions from service by the Deeside Military Tribunal sitting in Aboyne, until at least 28 November 1917, but enlisted after that in the Gordon Highlanders. In April 1918 Cecil was reported to be wounded in the right arm and in hospital in Chichester. Five months later Eric was killed in action aged 19 years and 9 months on 1 October 1918 in the course of his battalion’s involvement in an eastwards advance on enemy positions through the villages of Rolleghemcapelle, Winkel, St Eloi, Capelle, St Catherine’s cross roads and Harlebeke as part of the 26th Brigade of the 9th (Scottish) Division. Early progress in this attempted advance on the morning of 1 October was met with a heavy counter-attack and severe losses including, it would seem, Private Eric Ritchie. He is buried or commemorated at Dadizeele New British Cemetery.