Pilot Officer Eric Whitby RITCHIE DFC

Service No: 412189
Born: Adelong NSW, 22 October 1913
Enlisted in the RAAF: 22 June 1941
Unit: No. 156 Squadron (RAF), RAF Station Warboys
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), 16 November 1943
Died: Air Operations: (No. 156 Squadron Lancaster aircraft JA674), Germany, 20 December 1943, Aged 30 Years
Buried: Hanover War Cemetery, Niedersachsen, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of William James Ritchie and Melinda Jane Ritchie; husband of Isobel Frances Ritchie, of Seaforth, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Manly NSW
Remembered: Panel 129, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Manly ANZAC War Memorial, Manly NSW

DFC Citation: Warrant Officer Ritchie has completed a large number of operational sorties against some of the most heavily defended targets in German occupied territory. On one occasion in August
1943, when returning from a raid on Nuremberg, a fire started in the aircraft and it was only by the immediate action taken by Warrant Officer Ritchie that the fire was extinguished and the captain was able to bring the bomber safely back to base. At all times Warrant Officer Ritchie has displayed courage and coolness of a high order. (London Gazette 16 November 1943, page 5026)

At 1715 hours on the night of 20 December 1943 Lancaster JA674 took off from RAF Warboys detailed to bomb Frankfurt, Germany. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take-off and it failed to return to base. The aircraft was lost and all the crew members were killed.

The crew members of JA674 were:

Warrant Officer William Liness Charles Hickling DFC (400433) (Rear Gunner)
Warrant Officer Cyril William Knox DFC (22170) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Lieutenant George Bruce Loder DFC (412160) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant George Edward Mason DFM (1007560) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Pilot Officer Eric Whitby Ritchie DFC (412189) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flight Lieutenant Michael Acton Sullivan DFC (414697) (RNZAF) (Pilot)
Flight Lieutenant Rex Henry Wedd DFC (408200) (Air Bomber)


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veterans’ Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/35/198
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line

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