Ritchie, Frederick Watson (No. 425506)

Ritchie, Frederick Watson (Frederick)

Flight Lieutenant (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner)

No. 425506, 279 (RAF) Squadron, Royal New Zealand Air Force

Killed in an aircraft accident on Sunday 7 January 1945 (aged 22)

Buried:

Harrogate (Stonefall) Cemetery, Yorkshire, England (Section G Row E Grave 12)

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

New Zealand National War Memorial in Wellington

New Zealand Cenotaph Database in Auckland War Memorial Museum

BIOGRAPHY

The death of Flight Lieutenant Frederick Watson Ritchie (No. 425506) was reported in the 20 January 1945 edition of the County Down Spectator under the headline Bangor New Zealander’s Death.

Flight Lieutenant Frederick Watson Ritchie was a nephew of Mr and Mrs Robert Ritchie of 42b Bridge End, Newtownards Road, Belfast and a son of Mr and Mrs John Ritchie who lived in Auckland, New Zealand.  John Ritchie, a native of Bangor, was wounded on active service during the First World War.

During the Second World War Frederick Ritchie and his brother John both served as Flight Lieutenants with the Royal New Zealand Air Force and Frederick was 22 when he died on 7 January 1945.  He was one of a six-man crew that took off at 10.50 am from RAF Thornaby in Yorkshire in a Vickers Warwick B/ASR Mark I aircraft (BV233) on a training exercise.  During the exercise, when they were taking evasive action during a simulated attack, the aircraft dived vertically into the ground from 500 feet and it was later concluded that this was probably the result of a high-speed stall.  In addition to Flight Lieutenant Frederick Watson Ritchie, the other five crew members who died were:

  • Flight Lieutenant Harvey Samuel Luck (aged 32), Royal Canadian Air Force
  • Flight Lieutenant Ronald Cooper
  • Flying Officer Desmond Charles Holland (aged 20), Royal New Zealand Air Force
  • Flying Officer Robert Percy Woolfield (aged 28), Royal New Zealand Air Force
  • Sergeant James Wiles

Flight Lieutenant Frederick Watson Ritchie (No. 425506) was buried in Harrogate (Stonefall) Cemetery, Yorkshire and he is commemorated on the New Zealand National War Memorial in Wellington and on the New Zealand Cenotaph Database in Auckland War Memorial Museum.