Petts, Ritson Finlay (No. 524461)

Petts, Ritson Finlay (Ritson)

Leading Aircraftman

No. 524461, 100 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Killed on active service on Wednesday 27 September 1939 (aged 25)

No known grave

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Singapore Memorial, Singapore (Column 410)

Comber and District War Memorial

Annals of Comber Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church

BIOGRAPHY

Ritson Finlay Petts was born on 30 October 1914 in Mount Alexander, Comber, and he was the youngest son of John and Annie Petts (nee Finlay) of Castle Buildings, Comber.  Their marriage was registered in the second quarter of 1895 in Darlington, Co. Durham.  John Petts worked as a groom and huntsman with foxhounds and, before moving to Comber, the Petts family lived at Hurworth Kennels, Hurworth-on-Tees, Darlington.

John and Annie Petts had at least 13 children:

Alfred William

Alice Finlay

Mary Winnifred

John Edward

Ruth

Idina

Gerard

Neil Finlay

Jessie Finlay

Freda Finlay

Jack

Neville (born 28 December 1912 in Ballykine, Annahilt, Lisburn)

Ritson Finlay (born 30 October 1914 in Mount Alexander, Comber)

Ritson Petts joined the Royal Air Force in 1935 and during the Second World War he served with 100 Squadron.  At the outbreak of war, 100 Squadron was based in Singapore and the air crews were flying Vickers Vildebeest biplanes.  Initially three planes from 100 Squadron were deployed to Alor Setar (Alor Star) in Malaysia.

Leading Aircraftman Ritson Finlay Petts (No. 524461) was 25 when he died on 27 September 1939.  His aircraft came under attack and crashed into the sea.  A survivor of the crash told how he and Ritson Petts had swum for hours together until large waves separated them and the survivor was washed ashore.  The name of the survivor was not recorded.  Leading Aircraftman Ritson Finlay Petts’s body was not recovered, and he is commemorated on the Singapore Memorial; on Comber and District War Memorial and in the annals of Comber Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church (there is no Second World War Memorial Plaque in that Church).

Ritson’s father, John Petts, died on 9 September 1947 (aged 76) and on Friday 27 June 1952, at the opening of Comber’s new Garden of Remembrance, John’s widow Annie laid a wreath in memory of her husband and son:

In loving memory of my dear son Ritson, RAF, killed in action Singapore.  Also in loving memory of my dear husband, died 9 September 1947, result of war service

Annie Petts died on 22 February 1968.