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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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rnzaf
25 Squadron (NZ) F41U-I Corsair NZ5521 F/O. Dennis G.A Ritchie

Operation: Training

Date: 21st November 1944 (Tuesday)

Unit: No. 25 Squadron (NZ)

Type: F41U-I Corsair

Serial: NZ5521

Code: -

Base: RNZAF Ardmore, New Zealand

Location: On approach

Pilot: F/O. Dennis Gordon Allwright Ritchie NZ/421533 RNZAF Age 21. Seriously injured

REASON FOR LOSS:

After carrying out air firing practice and on final approach to landing his aircraft suffered engine failure one and half miles from the field at 14:10 hrs.

The pilot raised his undercarriage in order to effect a belly landing. But on touch down the starboard wing struck a tree stump and was torn away. The fusel carried on for some yards and burst into flames.

Two civilians, a Mr. C.D McInnes of Papakura, and later Mr. C.T Smith of Takanini attempted a rescue of the pilot despite the inferno. They did manage by acting on instructions from the conscious but trapped pilot, were able to get him clear.

Sadly he died of his injuries in Auckland Public Hospital at 00:20 hrs on Tuesday the 28th November. The civilians were later to receive letters of commendation from the Secretary of the Air Board in appreciation of their gallantry.

Burial details:

F/O. Dennis Gordon Allwright Ritchie. Waikumete Cemetery and Crematorium. Memorial plaque. Born on the 31st January 1923 in Timaru. Educated at Timaru Boys' High School and Christs College. Worked for National Mortgage and Agency Company as a stock clerk. Enlisted on the 03rd March 1942. Trained at No. 2 Elementary Flying Training School on the 28th November 1942, at Ashburton and then with No. 2 Service Flying Training School on the 06th February 1943 at Woodbourne.

On the 12th April 1943 he qualified for Flying Badge and was commissioned as Pilot Officer on the 05th June 1943. He was selected to become a flying instructor and went to the Central Flying School at Tauranga on the 14th August 1943. From August 1943 until July 1944 Flying Officer Ritchie was a Flying Instructor at the Elementary Flying Training School at

Ashburton, In late March he had a fall from a horse, while jumping a wire fence, but he recovered well at Rotorua Convalescent Depot and returned to duty in a short time. On the 01st August 1944 he was posted to Woodbourne for duties as a Staff Pilot and a month later went to No. 4 Operational Training Unit at Ohakea for a course on Harvard and Kittyhawk aircraft. A total of 1079 flying hours logged with 31 on the Corsair.

Son of William Traill Ritchie (died 23rd May 1940, age 58) and Dorothy Cecil Ritchie (née Dibbs - died 28th November 1942, age 59). His next of kin was listed as his sister, Mrs B.A.T Rhodes of Hallow Grange, Timaru. New Zealand.

Above: Waikumete Cemetery and Crematorium

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, New Zealand Cenotaph, Weekly News of New Zealand, Air Museum of New Zealand, Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland, National Archive.

Other pages that may interest you:

Pages regarding losses due to accidents
Pages detailing RNZAF losses

Other sources as quoted below:

KTY 19-08-2023

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Acknowledgements
Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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