WHITTON and RITCH -Surname Studies and people from the Island of GRAEMSAY, Orkney

John Drever Ritch

John Drever Ritch

Male 1916 - 1988  (72 years)

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  • Name John Drever Ritch 
    Born 1916  Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 30 Jun 1988  New Westminster, BC Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I5697  Ritch
    Last Modified 22 Jun 2020 

    Father William Burns Ritch,   b. 18 Oct 1882, Greenhall, Deerness, Orkney Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 12 Dec 1963, 11711 84 Street, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada buried Edmonton Municipal Cemetery M35 2A Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 81 years) 
    Relationship natural 
    Mother Magarete Daisy Wallace,   b. Abt 1890, Edinburgh, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Sep 1981, Saskatoon, Alberta, Canada buried Edmonton 17-9-1981 Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 91 years) 
    Relationship natural 
    Married Abt 1915  Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F559  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • More than 60,000 Slovak soldiers and 18,000 partisans joined the fight against fascism during the Slovak National Uprising (SNP) that broke out on August 29, 1944. In line with the Slovaks, 8,400 foreign participants representing 32 nationalities joined the fray.

      One of the foreign participants was the Canadian pilot Stuart N May, whom the German army shot down at Brunovce near to Pieštany on October 17, 1944. Early this summer, after 60 years abroad, he visited Slovakia.

      As a flight lieutenant May took off for his combat flight in 1944 as the pilot of a Mosquito plane together with navigator Jack D Ritch from Edmonton, Alberta in a two-plane formation of the 418th squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force. The second fighter carried flight lieutenant S H R Cotteril and navigator Flying Officer C G Finnlayson. On the afternoon of October 16th, 1944 they took off from the British air base Hudson. After a brief stop in St Dizier, France, the Mosquitoes continued on in the early morning of October 17th to meet the tasks of operation Day Rangers. At about 7:50 the planes approached the Pietany airport from the south. They planned to attack and destroy Nazi planes stationed there. However, the planned surprise did not work out for the Canadians who were welcomed by thick German shooting. One of the shells hit the left motor of May's plane, which caught fire. In his effort to escape, he landed on the left bank of the Váh River near the village of Brunovce. Neither he nor his navigator suffered any injuries.

      Young shepherds found the Canadian pilots and took them to the local village. The Germans launched an intense search for the Canadians, but Podhradie locals hid and fed them, despite the threat of severe punishment. After five days, partisans from the group of Captain Kijevsky took charge of the pilots, who faced a demanding stay in the Slovak mountains. After six months, the Canadians finally crossed the front and fought their way to the Hungarian town of Szolnok on the side of the partisans.

      May arrived with pneumonia and a high fever. The locals transported him to the Russian hospital in Budapest from which the allies took him to Italy and then to England where he recovered. In May 1945, he finally crossed the Atlantic to return to Canada.

      The story of the downed Canadians has inspired amateur historian Bohuslav Ferianec from the town of Modrovka. Ferianec, a worker by his original profession, collected information from the locals and also parts of the crashed plane as he pieced together the fragments of the stories of the two Canadians who long ago crashed near his hometown. After a long search in 2002, he finally learned that May was still alive. He told May's story in his book Mosquito over Pieštany, which he published from his own pocket in 2003. Ferianec learned that Ritch also made it back to Canada and died several years ago.

      May was born in 1921 in the Northern part of the Canadian province of Ontario in Weston. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1940 and in 1943 he was ordered to fly to Great Britain. He joined the 418th squadron City of Edmonton as flight lieutenant.

      This year, on June 11, May finally returned to Slovakia and in the village of Modrovka he met his saviours after more than 60 years. He could not hide his tears when recalling stories of the past.

      During the International Aviation Days held in Bratislava on June 12-13, General Jozef Dunaj, chief of the Slovak Air Force, received May and thanked him for his contribution to the liberation of Slovakia during World War II.

      First Name: J D Initials: J D Surname: Ritch
      Rank: Flying Officer
      Service: Royal Air Force RAF Station: Royal Air Force Squadron: 418 Nationality: British Campaign Medals: 1939-45 War Medal 1939-45 Star Air Crew Europe Star Fate: Evaded Incident Date: 17.10.44 Aircraft Mark: VI Aircraft Type: Mosquito Aircraft Serial: PZ220

      BC Bridge
      Jack Ritch -- Another true gentleman, Jack moved here on his own from Toronto relatively late in life. He quickly adopted the local bridge community as his family
      and became one of its most respected members, distinguishing himself both at the table and as a unit officer. Jack didn’t care whether his partners had 5 or
      5,000 master points. His only requirement was that they showed the same courtesy at the table as he himself always displayed. He died in 1998 but is still missed.

      at 1921 census at Ward 2 polling Division 13 Saskatoon,