Flight Lieutenant Thomas Glyn Finlayson Ritchie
Thomas Glyn Finlayson Ritchie was born on 30th November, 1913, in Milngavie, Dunbartonshire. He was the son of Thomas McGown Ritchie and Jane Finlayson.
He learnt to fly privately and was awarded his Aero certificate (14059) on 3rd July 1936 at the Scottish Flying Club, in a De Havilland 60G Gipsy Moth. Thomas gave his address as ‘Romsdal,’ Heathfield Rd, Milngavie, and his profession as ‘manufacturer.’
Thomas joined the RAFVR in the summer of July 1937 as an Airman (under training) Pilot, undertaking his pre-war training at No.12 Elementary & Reserve Flying Training School at Prestwick.
After completing his training, Ritchie was commissioned as a probationary Pilot Officer, in March 1939. Called to full-time service at the outbreak of war, he joined No.602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron at Drem on 26th November 1939. Whilst at Drem, Ritchie was confirmed as a Pilot Officer on 29 March 1940. The Squadron remained in Scotland until 14 August 1940 when they moved to 11 Group at Westhampnett, where they immediately joined the action.
On 15 August 1940, Ritchie shared in the destruction of a Dornier Do17 followed on the 19 August by the destruction of a Junkers Ju88. On the 23rd, he returned to Westhampnett with damage caused by colliding with another RAF fighter in cloud.
Thomas had further success on 25 August in destroying a Messerschmitt Me110. On 6 September he was wounded in the legs in combat with Me109’s over Hailsham and was admitted to Chichester Hospital. He flew no further sorties during the Battle of Britain, but was promoted to Flying Officer on 6 November 1940.
No.602 Squadron moved back to Scotland in mid-December 1940, before arriving at Kenley on 10 July 1941. Ritchie received another promotion, to Flight Lieutenant, between 24 March and 4 April 1941.
On 21 July, the squadron, operating via North Weald, were tasked with escorting three Stirling bombers when they were attacked by about five Me.109s. Flight Lieutenant Ritchie, as Yellow Leader, was last seen diving over Lille in his Spitfire Mk.IIa P8478. It was later confirmed he had been shot down and killed.
Squadron Leader George Pinkerton DFC, who had led 602 Squadron from March to July 1940 wrote to Glyn’s parents:
I learn Glyn got the offer to stay home but turned it down, saying he would never forgive himself if he did not accompany the squadron south. This shows what stuff he was made of , and it was this spirit that made 602 such a splendid unit. I am proud to think of him as being one of my best pilots, and he is also a great loss to the RAF.
(The Herald August 30, 1941).
Ritchie was buried by the Germans with full military honours, in the Reninghelst churchyard extension, Belgium.
Flight Lieutenant Ritchie is also remembered in a stained glass window at New Kilpatrick Church, East Kilbride, which was donated by members of the congregation in memory of members of the church who lost their lives during WW2.
Rest in peace Sir and thank you for your service.