John Ridley Ritson (1870-1927)
Taken prisoner at Boetleer's Farm and subsequently commanding officer of 8 DLI
From “Eighth Battalion Durham Light Infantry, 1793-1926”, E H Vietch, p 31
“Amongst those wounded during the afternoon and evening was Major J R Ritson, who, after his return from reconnoitring the position of A and D Companies, was severely wounded by a shell. He was carried a few yards to the rear and his wound dressed, but he refused to be taken out of the fight as he realized the situation was so serious that no men could be spared to carry his and no stretcher-bearers were available. This self-sacrifice resulted in him being taken prisoner early on the morning of the 26th [April 1915] and suffering much at the hands of the Germans until sent into Holland. Of the happenings in general the individual knew nothing save of those immediately around him, but that Major Ritson was wounded spread quickly over the Boetleer’s Farm position, and one still recalls the sense of personal loss felt as word was passed along, so much of the existence of the Battalion had always seemed to centre round him.”
According to the Durham Advertiser J R Ritson was a prisoner of war at Munden in Hanover. His name is mentioned in an article from 6 Aug 1915 which reports on the inspection of the camp by a representative of the American Ambassador. The inspector recorded that he had spoken to Ritson, as well as another officer: “They said that their treatment had been in every respect correct and generous, and that they had no complaints to make.”
Also see the documents attached to the Earl’s House Industrial School page (scroll down this page for link) to see more information about J R Ritson.
International Red Cross archives http://grandeguerre.icrc.org/
Civil Parish: Langley
Birth date: 1870
Death date: 1927
Armed force/civilian: Army
Residence: Sniperley Hall, Durham
Organisation membership: 8th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry
Employment: Colliery owner
Family: Wife: Ida Mary Ritson (Probate Calendars)
Served in South Africa as Lieutenant for DLI 1 Volunteers, 1899-1902
Listed as Major on 1914-1918 Medal Card. Promotion to Lieutenant-Colonel also recorded on Medal Card.
Commanding Officer of 8 Battalion, 1920.
At death, in 1927, Brevet-Colonel.
Medal(s): Victory, British and Star medals
Order of the British Empire
Register No: 1778
Forename: John Ridley
Parliamentary Division: Barnard Castle
Polling District: R - Langley Park
Contributed by Durham County Record Office
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