Ritchie, Henry Douglas (Henry)
No. 7854, 4th Regiment, South African Infantry
Killed in action on Monday 9 April 1917 (aged 36)
Highland Cemetery, Roclincourt, France (Grave I. B. 5)
Comber and District War Memorial
First Comber Presbyterian Church
Henry Douglas Ritchie was born on 22 March 1881 in Bridge Street, Comber and he was a son of John Whitla Ritchie and Mary Alice Ritchie (nee McDowell) who were married on 25 June 1874 in Gilnahirk Presbyterian Church. John Whitla Ritchie was a son of Henry Douglas Ritchie, a merchant. Mary Alice McDowell was a daughter of James McDowell.
John Whitla Ritchie was a grocer and general merchant in Comber and he and Mary Alice had at least eleven children:
Amy Whitla (born 23 September 1875 in Bridge Street, Comber)
Julia McDowell (born 26 January 1877 in Bridge Street, Comber)
James McDowell (born 6 March 1878 in Bridge Street, Comber)
Clara (born 11 August 1879 in Bridge Street, Comber; died 2 May 1881)
Henry Douglas (born 22 March 1881 in Bridge Street, Comber)
Stanley Ernest (born 6 August 1882 in Bridge Street, Comber; died 25 March 1883)
Bessie Parker (born 18 June 1884 in High Street, Comber; died 28 June 1891)
Randal Percival (born 12 September 1885 in High Street, Comber; died 26 April 1886)
Lillie Victoria (born 9 May 1887 in High Street, Comber)
Herbert William (born 7.20 pm 4 June 1889 in High Street, Comber; died 15 December 1889)
John Whitla (born 7.30 pm 4 June 1889 in High Street, Comber; died 19 October 1889)
After Mary died, John Ritchie married Josephine McDowell on 15 April 1896 in Second Comber Presbyterian Church. Josephine McDowell of 3 Allworthy Avenue, Belfast was a daughter of John McDowell, a contractor.
John Whitla Ritchie and Josephine Ritchie (nee McDowell) lived in High Street, Comber and they had at least one child:
John Arnold (born 19 April 1897 in High Street, Comber)
After leaving school, Henry Douglas Ritchie worked as a shop assistant and he lived in Bridge Street, Comber with his widowed maternal step-grandmother, Jane McDowell (aged 89 in 1901).
Henry Douglas Ritchie moved to South Africa where he worked as a miner. He enlisted at Potchefstroom on 3 December 1915 and in his attestation papers it was noted that he was 34 years old and that he was 5 feet 11 inches tall. He cited as his next-of-kin his sister Lillie who married Joshua Theodore Parker on 31 July 1915 in First Comber Presbyterian Church. The Parker family lived at 30 Rathcar Street, Lisburn Road, Belfast and later in Stranmillis Road, Belfast.
Henry Douglas Ritchie joined the 4th Regiment South African Infantry and after his initial training he travelled from Capetown via Southampton to France.
Private Henry Douglas Ritchie (No. 7854) went to the Front on 23 November 1916 and he was 36 when he was killed in action on 9 April 1917. He was buried in Highland Cemetery, Roclincourt, France.
Private Henry Douglas Ritchie is commemorated on Comber and District War Memorial and in First Comber Presbyterian Church. In the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Debt of Honour Website his age is recorded as 33.