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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. R W Richardson


Ronald William Richardson was born on 8th February 1916 at Knaresborough, Yorkshire and attended King James Grammar School there from 1927 to 1932. After leaving he went to work for a local printing firm, whilst awaiting entry into the RAF.

He joined the RAF in August 1935 as an Aircrafthand. In 1936 he was serving with 99 Squadron at Mildenhall, equipped with Heyford bombers. In December 1936 he remustered as an Airman u/t WOp/AG and began flying training.



Richardson went on a wireless operators course at the Electrical and Wireless School at Cranwell. In March 1937 Richardson was serving with 149 Squadron at Mildenhall, again with Heyfords. He applied for training as an Observer and on 21st February 1939 he was interviewed by and recommended. In May Richardson remustered as an Airman u/t Observer and later in the month he began his navigation course at 5 ESRFTS Hanworth, flying mainly in the Envoy and the Wessex.

In August 1939 he went to 4 AOS West Freugh for a bombing and gunnery course and in November he joined the recently-reformed 141 Squadron at Turnhouse.

Richardson flew with 141 Squadron throughout the Battle of Britain.

In early June 1942 he was serving with 23 Squadron at Ford.

On the night of 25th/26th July 1941 two Havocs of 23 squadron transited from their base at Ford to Manston for a night intruder sortie over France. They returned safely in the early hours. One Havoc (possibly AW402) decided to return to Ford before first light.

It struck a parked aircraft on takeoff and crashed. The gunner Sgt. CLM Forsyth (NZ) pulled the pilot, F/Sgt. JB Raffels, and Richardson from the burning wreckage and all three were taken to Margate Hospital.

F/Sgt. Raffels died from his injuries on 10th August 1941.

Richardson was later transferred to the Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead, where he underwent plastic surgery by Archie Mclndoe, becoming a Guinea Pig.

After spending six months in hospital, Richardson went to Hoylake for convalescence. In June 1943 he was posted to an Aircraft Control course at RAF Northolt. Commissioned in September 1943, he remained on control duties in Britain and later Germany until released from the RAF on 21st January 1946 as a Flying Officer.

Richardson joined the Air Traffic Control Service at Manchester Airport in November 1947 and was one of the team to set up the airways system in the North of England.

He died on 6th November 1966.


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