|Date of Birth||July 28, 1881|
|Place of Birth||Cape Breton, Nova Scotia|
|Trade / Calling||Medical Doctor|
|Battalion||26th (3rd Wessex) Field Ambulance|
|Branch||Royal Army Service Corps|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||England|
|Theatre of Service||Great Britain and Mesopotamia|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Decorations and Medals||Military Cross|
|Date of Death||January 28, 1931|
|Age at Death||49|
Captain Philip McRitchie, MC, was born on 28 July 1881 in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, the son of Donald McRitchie and Anna McLeod. He was one of at least twelve children, seven boys and five girls, born between 1861 and 1881. By the 1890s his family had moved to the town of Rat Portage (later called Kenora), which was on Lake of the Woods in northwestern Ontario. At the time of the 1901 census Donald was working as a boat builder, three of his sons were captains on steamboats and Philip, age 19, was a bookkeeper.
Philip attended medical school at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, graduating as a doctor in 1907. When the next census was taken in the spring of 1911 he was working as a doctor in Delisle, Saskatchewan. The war started in August 1914 and he was one of the early volunteers, signing up in England with the Royal Army Medical Corps. In April 1915 the London Gazette announced his promotion from Lieutenant to Captain. He was serving with the 26th (3rd Wessex) Field Ambulance at the time. His ambulance unit was part of the British army’s 8th Infantry Division, which had been organized in October 1914 and sent to France in early November.
Philip’s parents both passed away in Kenora in 1917, his father on 11 October and his mother just three days later. A double funeral was held on 15 October and they are buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora. Philip was still in France at the time and two of his brothers, Roderick and John, were serving overseas with the Inland Water Transport section of the Royal Engineers. John was in Mesopotamia that fall and when he became ill in December 1917 he recovered in a British military hospital in Basra. Around that same time Philip was awarded the Military Cross and it was reported in the London Gazette on 18 January 1918.
On 30 October 1918 Philip was married at St. Michael’s Church in Aberystwyth, Cardiganshire, Wales. His wife, Catherine Jones, was the youngest daughter of the late Thomas and Anne Jones of Bridge Street, Aberystwyth. The ceremony was performed by Catherine’s brother Reverend Richard Jones and she was given away by her brother Isaac. The wedding was mentioned in the local newspaper on 1 November and the article was reprinted in the Kenora Miner and News a few months later. Philip and his wife went away for a short honeymoon and a few days later the Armistice was signed.
After the war Philip decided not to return to Canada and in the spring of 1919 he and his wife were living in London, England. Around 1920 they moved to Mesopotamia (Iraq), where Philip worked as a surgeon specialist for eleven years. He was living in Basra in early 1931 when he became ill with pneumonia. He passed away at Maude Memorial Hospital in Basra on 28 January, at age 49. His wife Catherine survived him by 34 years. She was living in Aberystwyth, Wales when she passed away in August 1965, at age 90.
Philip is buried in Basra and remembered on his parents’ grave marker in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora. He is commemorated on the University of Manitoba Roll of Service 1914-1918.
By Becky Johnson
Photo of Philip and death notice courtesy of McRitchie family tree on ancestry.ccom.