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Name: RITCHIE, Archibald Thomas Ayres 'Archie' OBE, MC (Capt.)

image of individualimage of individualimage of individual

Birth Date: 2 Apr 1890 Kildare

Death Date: 16 Nov 1962 Malindi, buried at sea off Malindi

Nationality: Irish

First Date: 1917

Last Date: 1962

Profession: Chief Game Warden 1948

Area: Nairobi, Malindi, Nyeri

Married: 1917 Queenie Mary Falconer Macdonald b. 1895 Melbourne, Voctoria, Australia, d. Mombasa 11 July 1968

Author: further bookref:- Dominion, Chandler, First Wheel, Altrincham, Bate

Book Reference: Last Chance, Nellie, Staff 39, Irish, Markham, Bwana, Cranworth, Bror, Carson, Sundown, Lillibullero, Perham, Vulture, Breath, Elephant People, Cass, Frampton, Samson, Red 25, Red 31, Hut, Colonial, O&C, Wheel of Life, Kinloch, Elephant, Nicholls

War Service: ex French Foreign Legion, Grenadier Guards

School: Harrow & Magdalen College, Oxford 1909-14; BA (Oxon), FZS, MBOU

General Information:

Gazette 23 Apr 1963 probate and Gazette 2 May 1969 - wife's probate
Nellie - (1932) - The grandest car, apart from the Governor's, was a large yellow Rolls Royce with a rhino horn mounted on the bonnet, which swept along with the princely figure, white-crested and mahogany-complexioned, of the Chief Game Warden, Archie Ritchie, at the wheel.
Irish - ... was born of wealthy parents near Dublin in the year 1890. Everything about him seemed larger than life. He had a fine physique, very keen brain and a strong character with an engaging likeable personality. He went to school at Harrow where he showed great talent for shooting and rugby. He ended up as Head of School, Captain of the Shooting VIII and also showed brilliance on the rugby field. Academically he also excelled and went on to Magdalen College, Oxford, which he left just before WW1 with an honours degree in zoology. He joined the French Foreign Legion in 1914 and fought in France until, in 1915, he was commissioned in the Grenadier Guards of the British Army. He was wounded at Loos and on the Somme and again at Ypres. Naturally he was mentioned in despatches and awarded the Military Cross and also made a Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur. Some time after WW1 he came to Kenya as a game warden. Professional hunting had already become very popular and in 1927 efforts were made to form the EA Professional Hunter's Association. This organisation did not in fact take off until 1934 and among its first patrons were Chief Kenya Game Warden, Archie Ritchie and Sir Joseph Byrne who was Governor of Kenya at the time. Archie was a well known and liked personality around Nairobi and when his famous vintage yellow Rolls Royce was seen in town word got about and people rushed to the 'Long Bar' at the New Stanley Hotel to enjoy his brilliant 'chat'. He had removed the RR emblem from the bonnet of the Rolls and replaced it with a huge rhino horn as his mascot!
Markham - 1928 - at Muthaiga Club during the visit of the Prince of Wales - a big strong man, had to pick up Frank Greswolde-Williams tuck him under his arm and walk out of the room with him! Derek Erskine said: "Well there's a limit, even in Kenya; when someone offers cocaine to the heir to the throne something has to be done about it".
Bwana - 1938 - Chief Game Warden - Archie Ritchie, a man of outstanding personality and presence and all of us who served under him came to respect and love him. At the outbreak of WW1, impatient to see action, he joined the French Foreign Legion, then, after being invalided out, at the end of a year, he joined the 3rd Battalion of the Grenadier Guards. He was wounded at the battle of Loos and awarded the MC in 1915. He was wounded again on the Somme in 1916 and a third time near Ypres in 1917 and made Chevalier of the Legion of Honour. He had a brilliant brain and a superlative command of the English language. With his abilities he might have gone far, but he was devoid of ambition and was happiest indulging his hobbies; natural history, botany and photography ....... over 6 ft. tall and broad in proportion with a shock of white hair and a voice to match his size.   
Kinloch - a big man in every way. With his mane of white hair, his bristling white moustache, and his massive powerful frame, he had always reminded me of a cross between an old and regal lion and a majestic bull elephant ..... on the brink of retirement through ill-health after 27 years as Game Warden of Kenya. ........He was a great man, a very great man. ...... Blessed with a fine physique, a brilliant brain and with a silver spoon planted firmly in his mouth .......... strong character and likeable personality ..... Harrow, head of school, captain of shooting VIII and excelled on rugby field ..... Magdalen College, Oxford - President of JCR, honours degree in zoology. At start of WW1 enlisted in French Foreign Legion - 1915 commissioned in Grenadier Guards ........... Had a knack of handling people. ...... Always kept a bongo-skin bag by the side of his desk. He referred to it as his 'medicine bag'. It contained two glasses and what he called 'Dr Ritchie's miracle cure for dissatisfied customers' a large bottle of gin! The combination worked wonders. He had a deep seated aversion to bureaucracy.
Carson - Lake Rudolf, Loyangalani - met Vivyan Ward, Capt. Ritchie, the Game Warden and Dr. Hassan. A long form lay stretched on a bed seemingly asleep, and this, I was informed, was Pat Ayre. Other members of this very high-powered reconnaisance party, which had come from Marsabit to vary the boundaries of the then Northern Game Reserve, included George Adamson and Mervyn Cowie. ........ Vivyan Ward was master of ceremonies and most successfully did he feed us all with a varied and full menu. ....... Ritchie's private Lincoln …    
Lillibullero - Wajir - A..... R....., that king over beasts (for he was Game Warden of the country), who served his fighting apprenticeship with the Foreign Legion, stood transfixed, and then let forth a great shout, when first he saw this old fort, so powerfully did it bring back to him memories of his days of knight-errantry in Morocco. ....….  
Perham - 1929 - Capt. A.T.A. Ritchie helped me buy a car. ........ One of my continuing friends is Captain Ritchie, the Game Warden. He is a great, handsome, vital creature, with a beautiful complexion, not a wrinkle, and iron-grey hair. He is only 38, but he had a bad time in the war and went grey then. He seems to have had a strange career. He is an old Etonian, a great friend of the Prince of Wales, and was President of the Junior Common Room at Magdalen. Yet he went into the Foreign Legion! By an accident the Prince recognised him in France, marching in the Legion, and had him out ....... he is both a scientist and a romantic and he writes the most brilliant and unusual reports. He can hardly bring himself to kill an animal and his house is full of paupers and strays, furred or feathered, tame or less tame. He dresses most expressively (and no one but he could carry it off) in rich Autumnal Harris suitings, orange or cowboy checked shirts, with a brown Spanish hat. Both his cars - one is a Rolls - have rhino horns standing up on the radiators, and powerful lamps, taken from yachts, to show up the game at night. Everyone flees as the car comes in sight for he drives like one possessed. .....
Vulture - I conferred with my friend and hero, Capt. Archie Ritchie, Game Warden of Kenya. A grown-up with immeasurable knowledge and ability, with a head of white hair like the mane of a lion, and with a tremendous sense of humour. A man to whom you could turn for advice on any subject; a man who would always befriend you in any trouble; the custodian of our wild animals and the very embodiment of everything that was fine and splendid.
Wheel of Life - ….. The great Archie Ritchie. He was great in every meaning of the word. A big, fine-looking man with a great mop of silky white hair and a silky white moustache, he was sitting behind an enormous desk that was in apple-pie order. He got up to meet us, and I was surprised at the length and breadth of the man. His voice was deep and melodious: "Jack [Soames] has let me know something about you, and from him, it is a recommendation that I take notice of." He indicated two huge leather chairs for us  …… As we sat in the leather chairs, Archie opened a handy cupboard at his desk, produced a bottle of gin and a bottle of Angostura bitters, and proceeded to mix three pink gins. It was like being in a very private little club.
Elephant - Captain A.T.A. Ritchie, Kenya's Game Warden is undoubtedly the right man in the right place. He has reached the stage where the shooting of any animal is abhorrent to him; even the idea of teaching his son to bowl over grouse goes against the grain. He takes a broad view of the necessity for controlling game which damage crops, but has no wish to do the killing of any raider himself. He is no mean photographer, and delights in the very difficult stalk and the close approach which photographing wild animals entails. He had a thrilling elephant hunt some time ago in Tanaland amongst a herd of about one hundred and twenty, well known for their general bad temper. The herd was spread out in groups stretched across wind for about half a mile, and he and his gunbearer, a Mkamba Native, first located them from one end and up-wind of it, but were able to work round and approach from down-wind without disturbing any group. They sighted a monster bull slightly up-wind of one group, and whilst dodging between two groups, a couple of lions suddenly bounded out from the scrub and careered off with sharp angry grunts. This commotion slightly disturbed the herd, which began to shuffle about nervously. Ritchie quietly drew off to leeward and waited for the elephants to settle down again, then went up to inspect their teeth. After some pretty anxious work, he once more sighted the old bull with colossal tusks standing near one group, with a very young calf rubbing its head against the patriarch's hind leg. After further manoeuvring to get in position for a vital shot, he asked his gunbearer if he thought the herd would charge on hearing the shot; to which the boy replied, quite casually, "labda" (perhaps)! He fired, and certainly started something he could not stop, for the whole herd trumpeted and stampeded in every direction. Ritchie and his boy had to run for it, pursued by a family of seven elephants which were obviously hunting them. Anywhere on earth being unsafe, they took to the air, where, perched on the bough of a friendly tree, they waited till their pursuers had taken their departure. The tusks of this monarch of the herd weighed 124 lb. And 116 lb., the smaller  being considerably worn down. His feet were surprisingly small, but I have never seen an older pair, the soles being worn flat and quite thin. One of the most interesting points about this hunt was the presence of a very old and big tusker in a large herd.
Nicholls - a man of magnificent physique who had once served in the French Foreign legion, took over as Chief Game Warden in 1924. His task was to preserve animals for shooting by big-game hunters and to control paching by Africans. It was Archie Ritchie, having retired to Malindi, who saved the life of the Governor Sir Evelyn Baring in 1959 when Baring swam out to sea to rescue an Indian girl in difficulties.
Dominion - Game Department - Warden - 1930
First Wheel - " ….. The great Archie Ritchie, and in every meaning of the word he was GREAT. A big, fine looking man with a great mop of silky white hair and a silky white moustache. He was sitting behind an enormous desk, which was in 'apple pie' order. He got up to greet us and I was surprised at the length and breadth of the man. His voice was deep and melodious ……………. As we sat in the leather chairs, Archie opened a handy cupboard at his desk, produced a bottle of gin, a bottle of Angostura bitters and proceeded to mix three pink gins. It was like being in a very private little club. …… "
Altrincham - Welcome telegram to Lord A. - It had come from a Grenadier to a brother-Grenadier, Archie Ritchie, Kenya's Romantic Chief Game Warden: but I could quote it in the Old School context because Archie was a militant and unrepentant Harrovian, standing almost alone in Kenya ………. Outnumbered there, he was never suppressed; and one of his exploits in the name of Harrow always comes back to me with laughter. The Old Etonians held their Annual Dinner on the 4th June at the Muthaiga Club. Archie on this particular occasion, early in my Governorship, managed to conceal a loudspeaker in the room and to insult the company with the strains of 'Forty Years On' when Etonian spirits were at their highest. The offending instrument was, of course, soon found and broken; and Archie himself, I was assured, debagged.
Bate - All old Kenyans will remember that big Roll-Royce tourer primrose in colour, the property of Captain Ritchie, officer in charge of the Kenya Game Department in those days. This fantastic vehicle was more or less perpetually on safari, carrying great loads of equipment to every corner of Kenya, and some of the corners were very difficult indeed to get to! The owner doted on this car and little wonder, as it performed its duties without fuss or complaint for years. The radiator cap was adorned by a wild boar tusk lending itself very well to the car's aggressive appearance.
Gazette - 23/1/1924 - Arrived on 1st Appointment - Game Warden - A.T.A. Ritchie
Staff 39 - Warden, Game Dept. in 1939, appointed 1923. Retired to Malindi
Gazette - Voters List 1936 - Capt Archibald Thomas A Ritchie, Game Warden, Box 241, Nbi.
Peter Fullerton - I had lunch with Ritchie in 1953 after he retired to Casuarina Point. He had recently discovered the coral reef just off shore, and was I think one of the first in Kenya to use goggles for viewing coral. I went out with him on the reef. It was alive with thousands of tropical fish who were so tame they never moved away. Later on the reef was ruined by spearfishing and Ritchie got it gazetted as the first National Marine Park and spear fishing was banned there. Kenya has a lot to thank him for.
Gazette 23 Apr 1963 probate
Allfree in Bluff: On retirement they settled into Carberry's shack of a house at Casuarina point, Malindi. Then built a house behind it. His wife, Queenie, was small, dignified, intelligent. She never criticised Archie but never allowed herself to be swamped by his strong personality. She was a rich woman from a distinguished Australian family.

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