Signalman J. M. Ritchie


National Archives catalogue reference - WO 208/3307/65


Name: 2364654 Sig. Ritchie, J. M.

Unit: Royal Corps of Signals, 2 Squadron, 1st Armoured Division Signals

Captured: 26th May 1940.

Escaped: 6th June 1940.

Left: Gibraltar, 20th October 1941.

Arrived: Greenock, 26th October 1941.

Army Service: 2 years.

Peacetime Profession: Radio.

Private Address: 1, Ivy Place, Castle Street, Salisbury.


I surrendered to a tank at CALAIS (26 May) and was marched to BOULOGNE (29 May), ARRAS (2 Jun) and on to a camp near LILLE. I escaped on 6 Jun. with a private in the K.R.R. whose name I can't recall and a fellow signalman named TITMUS. As we escaped we were fired on, and the fellow in the K.R.R. had his head blown to bits. TITMUS and I got away and made for ARRAS, walking by night. Outside ARRAS we mistook some German tanks for our own and when we discovered our error TITMUS was killed as we ran away. We had both removed our identification discs but were still dressed as soldiers. I walked to PARIS by way of PERONNE and then struck SOUTH, reaching NEVERS about 6 Oct. I crossed the demarcation line a few days later by swimming a canal SOUTH of NEVERS at ST. JUST. I went straight to MARSEILLES where I was arrested on 26 Oct. and taken to FORT ST. JEAN.


I was given shelter, clothes and money in MARSEILLES by a lady who was like a mother to me. I escaped from FORT ST. JEAN with her aid about Xmas time, and stayed with her for nearly 8 months. She arranged - I don't know how she did it - that I should only have to report to the camp at intervals. After a time I gave up doing even that. My friend eventually put me in touch with the organization and I crossed the PYRENEES with a Spanish guide in company with F/O FORDE (S/P.G.(-)569), and Sgt. Pilot LOCKHART, W.G. (S/P.G.(-)577) and Sgt. Pilot PRATT, J. (S/P.G.(-)578) in the middle of Aug '41. I was arrested in SPAIN at FIGUREAS and sent to a camp at MIRANDA where I stayed 6 weeks.


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