Richard Blair (aka Richard McDOUGAL) RIEKIE


RIEKIE, Richard Blair (aka Richard McDOUGAL)

Service Number: 6356
Enlisted: Not yet discovered
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 27th Infantry Battalion
Born: Not yet discovered
Home Town: Not yet discovered
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Not yet discovered
Died: Killed in action, Belgium, 4 October 1917, age not yet discovered
Cemetery: Dochy Farm New British Cemetery
Plot VIII, Row A, Grave 11
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

23 Dec 1916: Involvement Private, SN 6356, 27th Infantry Battalion
23 Dec 1916: Embarked Private, SN 6356, 27th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Berrima, Fremantle

Richard Blair Riekie

As a postscript and correction to the biography- the name Mcdougal was an invention to conceal!
The name does not appear anywhere in our family tree and therefore Richard’s parent’s names are John Riekie and Grace Blair - married name Riekie.

Richard Blair Riekie

Richard Blair Riekie is my great uncle. Both he and his two brothers were all killed in the eleven months between October 4th (Richard aged 32) 1917 and September 1918. His brother Harry Heatley Riekie was a pilot in the RAF (plane crashed 4th July 1918 near Hamel whilst carrying ammunition to the Australians at the frontline) and brother John died at sea (whereabouts unknown September 1918).

The intriguing story regarding Richard is that for some reason unknown he enlisted in the AIF under a pseudonym, far away from his family and claiming false or no next of kin. He stated that he was unmarried and aged 31. Whilst the age is correct, I have always thought it unusual that he was not yet married.

His enlistment papers declare him to be Richard Mcdougal, born in Glasgow and his next of kin’s name is given as John Mcdougal - (real father, John Riekie) with an address of the next door neighbour in Glasgow. The Riekie family still owned the neighbouring house but had moved to London around the time the war had begun.

All of the Riekie children, including my grandmother, his sister Gladys, were born in India and only returned to Scotland around the beginning of the 1900’s. So Richard lived in India until his mid teens. His father John had been an Engineer and subsequently Railway Superintendent in northern India.

I do not expect to find out why Richard travelled to the other side of the world and then covered his identity, only to be returned to Europe to fight and die not so far from his younger brother Harry. I don’t believe the boys would have known the whereabouts of each other, one fighting in the AIF, the other flying ammunition to the AIF.
Richard was likely only correctly identified after he was killed because the supposed next of kin that was contacted realised this was the son of John Riekie, his past neighbour now in London.
I wonder why Richard left his family and whether he wanted to be found. I would like to think the Riekie boys so tragically lost, are now united.
In Brockley cemetery in London an obelisk was erected by their parents in honour of their sons. This can be viewed on milliongraves website.
Getty images owns a photograph of Harry Riekie’s aircraft about to crash to the ground with ammunition entangled round the wing - the image was taken by the Australians with story told that the pilot had attempted to untangle the wires by climbing out of the cockpit. I don’t know if the object seen is my Uncle or the ammunition boxes.

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Biography contributed by Daryl Jones

Son of John and Grace McDougal Blair RIEKIE, of 51, Tressillian Rd., Brockley, London, England. Native of Scotland.