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The Airmen's Stories - Sub/Lt.(FAA) D H Richards


Duncan Hamilton Richards was born in 1920 and entered the Air Branch of the Royal Navy on 11th September 1939, rated as a Midshipman.

He did his elementary flying training at 24 EFTS Sydenham, Northern Ireland. He went on to No. 1 FTS Leuchars for No. 8 Course, which ran from 15th January to 22nd June 1940. With his training completed, he was attached to the RAF on 29th June and he went to 12 OTU Benson, to convert to Fairey Battles, after which he joined 12 Squadron at Eastchurch on 30th August.

Richards joined 111 Squadron at Drem on 22nd September but was posted away to 73 Squadron at Castle Camps on 5th November 1940. The squadron was preparing for a move to the Middle East and it left Debden on the 9th for Birkenhead, where it embarked on the aircraft carrier HMS Furious.

On 29th November the squadron flew its Hurricanes off at Takoradi. It then flew in easy stages to Heliopolis, via Lagos, Accra, Kano, Maidugari, Khartoum,Wadi Halfa and Abu Sueir.

During December 1940, the pilots were attached to 274 Squadron in the Western Desert. Richards joined 803 (FAA) Squadron at Dekheila, Egypt on 12th December. The squadron was in the Naval Fighter Wing in the Western Desert, flying Hurricanes.

He returned to the UK in early 1942. In March 1942 Richards was on a course at 3 Radio School at Prestwick. He was part of a prank to 'beat up' HMS Illustrious which was docked at Liverpool. The party set off in Avro Anson AX230 comprising Lt. GRM Going DSO, Sgt. Rich RAF, Capt. S Harris, Sub/Lt. GA Hogg DSC and Richards.

The Anson suffered an engine failure and made a crash landing near Monkton railway station. It passed though an arch ripping off both wings. Sub/Lt. Hogg was not strapped in and was killed, the others suffered minor injuries and shock.

In late 1942 he joined 784 Squadron at Donibristle. After some time at the Air Warfare Training Division, Richards was given command of 809 Squadron and later led 781 Squadron.

Richards married Lorna Georgette Crocker in October 1945 in Westminster.

He stayed in the FAA postwar and died on 2nd September 1955 while based at HMS President in London.


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