Eric Gordon Ritchie

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 2, the youngest 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 the parish of Kincardine O’Neil and Mary in Fintry; the first three children were born in the next door parish of Birse and the final three in Kincardine O’Neil. Mrs Ritchie later had an address at East Wellgrove, Aboyne.

Eric Ritchie became a Private in the 8th Bn Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) (no. S23113, formerly no. 2352 of the 38th Territorial Reserve Battn). This renumbering indicates that he was initially recruited into a reserve battalion for basic training before posting to an active service unit. 

His brother Cecil (five years older) followed in his father’s footsteps and became a blacksmith. Possibly, on that account, he was granted temporary exemptions from service by the Deeside Military Tribunal sitting in Aboyne, until at least 28 November 1917. 

In April 1918, another brother Conrad, eleven years older than Eric and a Corporal in the Gordon Highlanders, was reported to be wounded in the right arm and in hospital in Chichester. 

Five months later, on 1 October 1918, Private Ritchie was killed in action, aged 19 years and 9 months, in the course of an eastwards advance on enemy positions through the villages of Rolleghem-Capelle, Winkel, St Eloi, St Catherine’s cross roads and Harlebeke, as part of an attack on Passchendaele Ridge. This attempted advance on the morning of 1 October included Ritchie’s Battalion as part of the 26th Brigade of the 9th(Scottish) Division. Early progress 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.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission (including re fighting around Dadizeele)
Soldiers Died in the Great War
Register of births
Census 1901
National Archives – War Diary of the 8th Black Watch WO95/1766/3-4
Aberdeen Journal 21 March 1917 – report of tribunal temporary exemption to “C G Ritchie”
Aberdeen Journal 18 June 1917 – “C J Ritchie” Blacksmith Boothnagowan given temporary exemption from service to 28 November 1917
Aberdeen Press & Journal 4 April 1918
Aberdeen Weekly Journal 12 April 1918