Date of Interview
Richard Ritchie was born on 23 August 1924 in Waterloo, Iowa, the youngest boy in a family of six children. He attended local schools, graduating from East Waterloo High School in January 1943. After poor eyesight kept him out of the Navy, in March Richard volunteered for the Army. Richard completed Basic Training at Fort Jackson, in Columbia, South Carolina, and received additional training as a medic. In late 1943 he was assigned to the 423rd Regiment, 106th Infantry Division, then stationed at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. This unit was shipped to Europe in October 1944, and in December assumed positions on the front line, in the Ardennes forest straddling the Belgian-German border. Units of the 106th Infantry Division were among the first overrun by the German offensive that began on 16 December 1944; along with thousands of other American troops, on December 20 Richard was captured by the Germans. Richard endured the next four months as a POW in Germany. He first spent several weeks at Stalag IV-B (Muhlberg), then one month at Stalag VIII-A (Gorlitz). When advancing Russian troops got close to the camp, prisoners were evacuated; Richard and others from Gorlitz walked for the next fifty-four days, ending up near the central German city of Braunschweig. Conditions steadily worsened, and hunger and disease claimed the lives of many over these months. His group was near Braunschweig when American troops liberated them on 13 April 1945. Richard was evacuated to hospital in France, then by ship to the United States; he spent the time until his discharge in November 1945 in various medical facilities. Back in civilian life, Richard got married (1947, wife Carol), and earned a degree from Iowa State Teachers College (now University of Northern Iowa) in 1949. He taught school for two years (1949-51), worked for the US Air Force in Biloxi, Mississippi, as a civilian instructor (1951-56), then relocated to the Twin Cities area and worked in the engineering and computer business, retiring in 1987 with twenty-four years of service from the firm Control Data. At the time of this interview Richard lived in Plymouth, Minnesota.
All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced without the written permission of Concordia University Library or Thomas Saylor, Department of History, Concordia University, St. Paul.
Saylor, Thomas, "Oral History Project World War II Years, 1941-1946 - Richard Ritchie" (2003). Oral History Project: World War II Years, 1941-1946. 63.