RAMC

Medical Officers of the Malta Garrison
Ritchie Michael Balfour Hutchison

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Lieutenant Colonel Michael Balfour Hutchison Ritchie
OBE (1919) DSO (1916) OStJ (1927) MB ChB (Aberd)
26 July 1882 [Glasgow] – 11 Feb 1969

Introduction

Lieutenant Colonel Michael Balfour Hutchison Ritchie was the son of the Reverend Robert Ritchie. He qualified MB ChB from the University of Aberdeen in 1904. Between 1900 to 1905 he was in U Company Royal Army Medical Corps (Volunteers).

In 1905, he was successful in the competitive examination held in London for a commission in the Royal Army Medical Corps for which sixty candidates entered; forty were commissioned. The highest mark was scored by Gentleman John Allan Anderson with 582 marks; the lowest was that of Gentleman Hugh Stewart, with 423 marks. Gentleman M B H Ritchie was placed 24th with 473 marks.

In 1908, he was in India where he served with the Mohmand Field Force attached to the Munster Fusiliers. He worked with great devotion during the cholera epidemic which broke out amongst the Fusiliers when on operations against the Mohmands. Following the outbreak of cholera the Munster and Northumberland Fusiliers were withdrawn from the Mohmand Field Force and replaced by the 1st/West Yorkshire Regiment.

Service Record — Michael Balfour Hutchison Ritchie

31 July 1905 Appointed Lieutenant RAMC on probation.

Jan 1906 Confirmed in rank and posted to Aldershot.

Sept 1906 Change of Station from West Down Camp to Bulford.

Dec 1906 Change of Station from Bulford to India.

Sept 1907 Change of Station from Rawalpindi to Ghora Dakka.

Feb 1908 Change of Station from Ghora Dakka to Rawalpindi.

Aug 1908 Change of Station from Rawalpindi to Upper Toppa.

Dec 1908 Change of Station from Upper Toppa to Rawalpindi.

31 Jan 1909 Promoted Captain RAMC.

20 June 1910 Married Sydney d'Abzac Crofton, daughter of the Reverend Addison Crofton and Mary Pilkington Hall.

May 1911 Change of Station from Rawalpindi to Murree.

Nov 1911 Change of Station from Murree to Rawalpindi.

Jan 1912 Was granted general leave for 6 months and five days.

Jan 1913 Captain M B H Ritchie was appointed Deputy Assistant Director, Medical Services (Mobilisation), 5th Mhow Division.

28 July 1914 Start of the Great War.
4 Aug 1914 Britain declared war on Germany.

Nov 1914 Change of Station from Mhow to Eastern Command.

1914–1919 Served with the British Expeditionary Force in France.

15 Oct 1915 Promoted Major RAMC.

14 Jan 1916 Awarded the DSO.

9 Apr 1917 Mentioned in the dispatch of Sir Douglas Haig as deserving of special mention.

3 June 1919 Awarded the OBE.

Malta 22 Apr 1922 Arrived at Malta.

20 Sept 1922 Left for Constantinople.

Malta 9 Jan 1923 Invalided to Malta from Constantinople.

6 Mar 1923 Returned to Constantinople.

1 Oct 1923 Returned to Malta.

18 Nov 1923 On Home leave.

31 Dec 1923 Returned to Malta.

Malta 17 June 1924 On Home leave.

11 Aug 1924 Returned to Malta.

Malta 1925 On duty at Malta.

Malta Feb 1926 Secretary of the newly launched Malta Branch of the RAMC Association.

Malta Aug 1926 Undertook the training of 30th Coy RAMC at Ghajn Tuffieha Camp. Demonstrated to the soldiers the new stretcher drill

4 Oct 1926 Published Rockings from Malta in Corps News of the Journal of the RAMC:

Since last we wrote, this limestone rock
Was startled by an earthquake shock.
Just think — our foremost naval station
Seized with uncanny oscillation!
Ground vibrating, houses swinging,
Dogs a barking, bells a ringing.
Outside rushed the populace,
Fleet of foot and white of face.
For folks get scared, e'en lose their wits
When Malta throws these seismic fits.
Summer drags its weary length;
Now the sun is losing strength.
A few more weeks and then the rain
Will bring cool weather back again.
Soon we shall be on Autumn verge
When khaki drill gives place to serge.
We've done as well as other stations
In our half yearly examinations.
The pay and Record Office states
Names of successful candidates.
Cooke and Westlake, Blyth and Brown
Got third class nursing — none came down.
But Byrne, bad luck, will have to wait —
He lacked third class certificate.
Harwood, Aquilina, Fagg,
Dugmore and Banks — we must not brag —
All have passed Dispensing A
Yes, we did quite well last May.
Enough — lets cease this bragging tone
And welcome Col Babington
DDMS and OC Corps.
No stranger, here he served before;
Now fills billet much desired
Vice Col Gwynn, retired.
Imtarfa's lost a good CO,
In Col Evans DSO,
Who left for England overland —
Ordered to India's coral strand.
Good luck, Sir! and we bid adieu
To Mrs Evans and Tony too!
We wish you joy on hill or plain —
Malta's loss is India's gain.
Reverting to exams again —
Majors Finny, Skyes and Lane
Passed the Lieutenant Colonel's test
No more exams for them — just rest!
And we pleasure we have noted
Captain Foot has been promoted.
But Captain Popham's step, as yet
Has not appeared in the Gazette.
Majors all we soon shall be
With increments in £. s. d.
The Corps Association dance,
Given by the Malta Branch,
Was held on Friday, 3rd September —
As good a dance as I remember.
On tennis court, with fairy lights —
Open air, these summer nights;
Pretty girls in dainty dresses;
Slender forms and shingled tresses;
The dance band of the Company
Played excellently, all agree.
Now cease these rockings. Sleep, my muse!
Their object is — a bright Corps News!

Malta 15 Apr 1927 Left Malta.

Oct 1927 Published Aesculapius Armaque. The book was a collection of a dozen articles on military medical subjects with criticism of war and the medical services.

26 Sept 1929 Promoted Lieutenant Colonel RAMC.

July 1929 Responsible for the health organisation of the main camp at Arrowe Park during the Scout Jamboree. This involved the medical staffing of nine sub camps, with their medical support and first aid posts. Some 15,000 scouts from various countries visited England and were in camp near Birkenhead.

Sept 1929 Delivered a lecture at the Royal Army Medical College on Some aspects of administration where he remarked that war administration hinges on personality. Among the many eccentric types that emerge from the stress of war is the gentleman, vested with a slight brief authority, who takes a peculiar delight in obstructing matters.
He had the following recommendations for senior officers holding administrative posts:

You will be led to delegate as much as you can, and it is sound. Do not get your mind filled up with details. There is no room for the big things if you do. You must trust your subordinates; give them as much autonomy as you can, but know what they are doing. You yourself must never get clogged up with correspondence, so that you have to stay in when you ought to be going around. There is no special advantage in having a meticulous mind in a high appointment.

1930 Served in India (invalided).

22 Apr 1931 Retired to retired pay with reserve liability.

26 July 1937 Ceased to remain on the Regular Army Reserve of Officers having attained the age limit of liability to recall.

30 Aug 1939 Territorial Army Lieutenant Colonel with the 6th Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders. Appointed Lieutenant Colonel National Defence Companies.

27 July 1940 Resigned from the TA.

28 July 1940–4 May 1946 Extra Regimental Employment. Appointed OC Troops on Troop Transports.

Bibliography