John Henry Ritchie was born around 1900 in Mancot, Flintshire, the son of Andrew & Eliza Ritchie ( nee Barrow). They had married in a Civil Ceremony at Holywell in 1898 (HOL/25/E91).
They were living in Mancot on the 1901 census. Head of the household was Andrew Ritchie, 25, a Farm Labourer who had been born in Bollygronery, Ireland. His wife Eliza, 25 had been born in Buckley, Flintshire. Their listed children were Mary E. 2 who had been born in Woodbank, Cheshire and John H who was 1. There was a Boarder in the household, David Bickley, a Baker.
The 1911 census show the family living at Ewloe Green. Andrew, 36 was a Carter Grocer, Vanman, who had been born in Belfast. His wife of 13 years E. Jane Ritchie, was 36. 5 children had been born to them but 1 had died. The listed children were Mary, 12, John H. 11, Beatrice, 9 and Maggie, 7, were all at school and had all been born in Hawarden.
Joe Henry Ritchie in the UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929 (this is the only source that gives his name as Joe), tells us that as he had only enlisted on the 22nd October 1918 (Home Service) so his War Gratuity was not admissable and his father Andrew was the Sole Legatee and he was paid £3 2s 1d on the 1st April 1919, so it appears that he died on the same day that he enlisted? He died at the Beach Road Hospital, Seaforth*. This is a bit of a mystery, and I cannot find his Attestation Papers so cannot confirm or deny. The fact that he is said to have been formerly in the Monmouth Regt., when he was only 18 when he died adds more to his story that is a mystery too. Would he have been in the Territorials before the war? I would think he would be too young, so any help would be appreciated.
*Excerpt from Seaforth Military Hospital, Beach Road Annexe https://www.flickr.com/photos/allan15/24636330750
A separate report on the same page of the Crosby Herald describes how the wounded soldiers in the local hospitals spent Christmas Day. “At Seaforth Barracks….the wards were handsomely decorated.” the Herald’s reporter notes. “The wards were open to the public from 2 o’clock to 4 o’clock and there were many visitors. On Monday evening Mrs German took a concert party to the barracks and an entertainment was given which was greatly enjoyed by the men…” Seaforth Military Hospital was in Seaforth Barracks. It seems that John Henry was a victim of the Flu epidemic that was sweeping Flintshire and indeed the word in 1918.
FLINTSHIRE OBSERVER & NEWS – 31st October 1918 – MILITARY FUNERAL
On Saturday there was an impressive military funeral at the cemetery, Hawarden. The deceased, Private John Henry RITCHIE, succumbed to pneumonia, and the body was brought from Waterloo Hospital to his home at Ewloe. He was only 18, and had recently been called up, and had been in training for a month with the South Wales Borderers.
A service was held at Ewloe Chapel, when the Rev. H. DAVIES, Ewloe Green, officiated. The lessons was read by Mr. R. DAVIES, and the hymns, “O God our help” and “There is a blessed home,” were feelingly sung. Before the sad procession left the chapel the “Dead March” was played by Mrs. JONES, organist. The wheeled bier was used, and the coffin was covered by the Union Jack and a profusion of flowers. The members of the Shepherd’ Friendly Society*, with Mr. T. ELLIS, secretary, and other officers, attended wearing funeral regalia, and the military escort was provided by the soldiers from Queen’s Ferry. Every mark of respect was shown as the procession passed through the village.
The service at the grave side was conducted by the Rev, H. DAVIES, who gave a touching address. At the conclusion the committal service of the Ancient Order of Shepherds was read by Mr. John MILLINGTON, and the hymn “Jesu, lover of my soul,” was sung. Three volleys were fired over the grave, and the “Last Post” was sounded The chief mourners were:- Mr. Andrew RITCHIE (father), Mrs. RITCHIE (mother), Beatrice, Mary and Maggie (sisters), Mr and Mrs FAULKNER (Uncle and aunt). The respect in which the deceased was held was amply shown by the large attendance of neighbours and friends, and the greatest sympathy is felt with Mr & Mrs RITCHIE and family.
*It seems that John was a member of the Shepherd’s Friendly Society* and they were well represented at John’s funeral, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shepherds_Friendly_Society.
Photograph thanks to Richard Minshall (Find a Grave)
UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919 accessible on www.ancestry.co.uk confirms John Henry’s regimental details above and tells us that he was born in Mancot, Flintshire, his residence was in Ewloe, Hawarden and he enlisted in Wrexham. He died ‘at home’. This source also tells us that he had previously been in the 3rd Bn Monmouthshire Regiment (Territorial Force), with the same Regimental number of 63477.