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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

17 year-old's last sketch


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A sketch made two hours before his death on 25th June 1916.




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So sad, and what a great artist. Thank you for posting Bernice.


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A tragic loss. He had only been with the battalion for just over for two months when he was killed. Another talented artist who was a private in the same battalion and who'd also worked in the design department of Storey Bros, was Albert Ellwood M.C. He was commissioned into 1/4th Battalion in August 1916 and killed on 14 April 1918. Some of Albert Ellwood's sketches are held in the museum in Lancaster, but I'm not aware of any of Ritchie's surviving there.

If you're wondering about any of the others mentioned in the article, Berenice, his pal, Herbert Beeley, who posted the sketch home was 19 and later transferred to the KRRC and then the DLI, but survived the war, dying in 1980. The two Scotforth pals mentioned as having narrow escapes were George Mason, who was wounded in late August 16, but survived the war after being captured and the other is James Sturzaker, (The Lancaster Guardian always spells the 'Sturzakers' as 'Stirzaker') born in 1897, who arrived in the same draft as William Ritchie. He too survived the war, but was wounded no less than three times with 1/5th and was then transferred to the Lincs and wounded with them on 24 August 1918, the same day his 29 year-old brother John was killed with the 1/5th King's Own.

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I'll contact the Lancaster Guardian, Private Ritchie's is a story they might be interested in digging out of their files and they could do a better reproduction of the sketch. Also appeal for any descendants of him.


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