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One man’s devotion to friend

Winnie Sangster is seen here placing a posie at the grave of Paddy the dog which her father David Ritchie looked after.

Winnie Sangster is seen here placing a posie at the grave of Paddy the dog which her father David Ritchie looked after.

As we remember those who died in the Great War the Arbroath Herald looks at the heart-warming tale of an injured soldier and his dog.

David Ritchie convalesced in Arbroath after being gassed and later returned to the town where he made a discovery.

Originally from Aberdeenshire, Mr Ritchie, just 18 at the outbreak of war, enlisted in the Black Watch and was despatched to the front where he fought at the second battle of Ypres and was injured in Britain’s disastrous first use of chemical warfare at Loos in October 1915.

His daughter Winnie Sangster said: “He was repatriated to Arbroath and put into a church where the dual carriageway is now. The only cure for gas poisoning was fresh air and he was later put into billets at the Coast Guard at Auchmithie. He had to patrol from Auchmithie to Arbroath every day to get his lungs working again.”

Mr Ritchie’s patrols were eventually amalgamated with those of the 2/1st Highland Cyclist Battalion stationed in the town. With them was their mascot Paddy, a black Irish Terrier who became a constant companion and accompanied Mr Ritchie on his daily patrols.

His injuries prevented Mr Ritchie from ever returning to the Front and after the war he joined the Kilmarnock constabulary before ill-health prompted him to return to his farming roots.

Mrs Sangster and her husband Derrie moved to Arbroath in 1959 and was later followed by her parents.

She said: “When he retired he came to live in Arbroath in his 70s to be near the family. They lived in Cairnie Street and they used to walk from their house across McDonald Park to visit us and not long after they moved here he came upon this dog grave.

“My mum said he was so excited at finding it, she had heard the stories but he stood and told her all about it. He nearly jumped his height when he saw the grave.”

Mr Ritchie visited Paddy’s simple grave often and tended it lovingly until his death, aged 88.

 

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