Memorial Cross to RCAF Lancaster Navigator
Memorial Cross to RCAF Lancaster Navigator - GRVI (F.O. W.S. RICHARDS J28875). Naming is officially engraved. Very crisp detail, dark patina, light contact, near extremely fine. In its hardshelled case of issue, case also near extremely fine. Accompanied by two Canadian Army reproduction file photographs of Flight Officer Richards in uniform and a CD containing thirty-nine pages with copies of his IndexCards, Computer Card, Attestation Paper, Service Records, Will, RCAF Interview Report (dated May 22, 1942), Estates Branch Application, RCAF Certificate of Presumption of Death (embossed, dated June 22, 1945), Official Royal Canadian Air Force Casualty Notification, Province of Ontario Registration of Death, RCAF Training Report: Navigator No. 4 Air Observer School (dated August 6, 1943), Three-Page Letter and Map from Reverend W.E. Clarke, Chaplain (C of E), SHAEF, (Air) Main (noting his visit to the Chantilly area of France, dated November 13, 1944), Letter from Richards' Wife to Adminstrator of Estates, Department of National Defence, Ottawa (dated August 26, 1944), Letter of Condolence to Richards' Wife from Donald A. Garner, Wing Commander, Commanding 166 Squadron, RAF (dated August 4, 1944, hoping he was captured as a POW), Letter to Richards' Wife from Donald A. Garner, Wing Commander, Commanding 166 Squadron, RAF (dated August 5, 1944, in regards to the missing Lancaster), Letter from his Brother, Arthur Richards of Toronto (received by the RCAF, February 1947), Letter from RCAF Casualty Officer for Chief of the Air Staff (dated March 7, 1947), Letter from his Uncle, Sam Price of Birmingham, England (dated August 24, 1944), Letter to Richards' Wife, Marge, from W.A. Dicks, Wing Commander for Chief of the Air Staff (dated January 21, 1947, offering condolence and that accompanied his Operational Wings and Certificate, for operations against the enemy), Two Letters of Reference for His Wife (Marge) and Three Photographs. Footnote: William Samuel Richards was born on September 20, 1911 in Birmingham, England, the son of William Henry Richards and Nellie Richards (nee Price). His father was a Metal Burnisher before he enlisted for war service in WWI with the British forces and was killed in action in 1915. Young William's early education was in Birmingham (1916-1920), before moving to Canada, where he and his mother, along with his brother, Arthur, settled in Toronto, and he continued his education (1920-1927). Upon graduation from Oakwood Collegiate Institute, Richards took a job with the Viceroy Manufacturing Company as an Assistant Purchasing Agent (1927-1928), moving on to Canada Packers in three positions (Statistician, Order Clerk and Bookkeeper, 1928-1935), before experiencing a bout of unemployment (1935-1938). While unemployed, he went back to school to upgrade his education, including courses in 3rd Year Practical Machine and Drafting, in additional to other courses, before landing another job with L.R. Greene and later, H.K. Robertson in Toronto as a Bookkeeper (1938). In his RCAF Interview Report, dated June 22, 1942, it described his physical appearance as "fair" and his temperment as "intelligent. alert, eager, co-operative, mature, capable, courageous. Good type". It went on to state that he was "Ambitious & appears to have determination to succeed & (had) taken numerous courses to improve his education. Keenly interested in flying & has read considerably on this subject." He scored reasonable well during his Pre-Entry Aircrew Educational Course at the University of Toronto Schools. He was subsequently accepted for service in the RCAF. His Attestation Paper, stamped August 18, 1942, named his next-of-kin as his mother, Nellie Brown of Toronto (the former Nellie Richards, who had remarried), stating that he had no previous military service, that he was single and that his occupation was that of Bookkeeper. His flying experience on enlistment consisted of 7 hours solo and 9 hours dual. Richards earned his Navigator Badge on December 24, 1942 and married Gwedolyne Madge Choyce in Toronto, on June 26, 1943. His RCAF Training Report: Navigator, No. 4 Air Observer School, dated August 6, 1943, described Richards as "A neat worker but a trifle slow in the assimulation of new knowledge. Sincere.", with Richards seeing postings for training in Toronto, London and Halifax. He embarked Halifax on August 26, 1943 and upon arrival in the United Kingdom, was placed in the Royal Air Force Training Pool. He was with RAF 166 Squardon when on August 3, 1944, his Lancaster ME839 AS-N, with a crew of seven, six RAF airmen and the lone Canadian being Richards, was declared "missing" over their target area of Trossy, France. It was later updated to "missing and believed killed" upon receiving of official German information. Upon further investigation, it was revealed that the plane had crashed after a flak attack, that 1622656 Sergeant (RAF Flight Engineer) Sid Witham had escaped and that 174157 Captain (RAF Pilot Officer (A/F/O)) Hubert A.L. Wagner had been captured (POW). The other five members of the crew were killed, which included 1580941 Sergeant (RAF Air Bomber) J.R. Davies, 1600800 Sergeant (RAF Wireless Operator) H.C.J. Buckler, 1585636 Sergeant (RAF Mid-Upper Gunner) F.J. Graham, 1584922 Sergeant (RAF Rear Gunner) L.J. Arthur and J28875 Flight Officer (RCAF Navigator) William Samuel Richards, age 32. Richards is buried at Creil Communal Cemetery in Oise, France, Plot 1, Grave 392, 32 kilometres south-east of Beauvais. Along with Richards, three other members of the crew are buried here: Davies, Buckler and Graham. Arthur was separated from his mates and was buried at Beauvais Marissel Cemetery. In a letter to Richards' Wife from Donald A. Garner, Wing Commander, Commanding 166 Squadron, RAF, dated August 5, 1944, in regards to Lancaster ME839 AS-N, missing from air operations on August 3, 1944, it stated that "The aircraft was one of 23 detailed from this unit to take part in a daylight attack on constructional works at Trossay St. Maximin (near Paris) in the morning of the 3rd August 1944. Moderate heavy flak was encountered in the target area and several of our aircraft sustained minor damage from flak bursts. Nothing was heard of the missing aircraft after taking off from base." Additional information and confirmation was required regarding the downing of the aircraft. In a three-page letter and map from Reverend W.E. Clarke, Chaplain (C of E), SHAEF, (Air) Main, describing his visit to the Chantilly area of France on November 10th, dated November 13, 1944, he stated that "The other member of the crew an Officer Can. J28875 W.S. Richards, RCAF, was also buried in the vicinity of Chantilly, but the whereabouts are unknown. The local people say that a ceratin M. Salle who it was alleged was pro-German knows the place but refuses to disclose it. The identity disks of this Officer were supposed to have been obtained from M. Salle only after threats of violence!!" In a letter from Richards' Wife to the Adminstrator of Estates, Department of National Defence, Ottawa, dated August 26, 1944, she requested that his bicycle and radio and any other articles from his base be fowarded to his relations in Birmingham, England, rather than being sold off (as she was informed that this was apparently the custom after an airman had been missing two months). In a letter from his Brother, Arthur Richards of Toronto, received by the RCAF, February 1947, who was also in the RCAF during the war (J500006), he requested information on what happened to his brother, stating that his brother's wife had "received a letter from (the) pilot of (the) aircraft, who, according stated that his life was spared because my brother stayed behind after being ordered to jump and released the said pilot's foot from between the control column and the seat". The original letter came from the pilot himself, H.A.L. Wagner of Belfast, Ireland and was obtained after he was released from his internment as a Prisoner of War and had returned home. In response, in a letter from RCAF Casualty Officer for Chief of the Air Staff addressed to his brother, Arthur Richards, dated March 7, 1947, it stated that "In November, 1944 a report was received through French sources that your brother's aircraft crashed about 1 1/2 miles North of St. Maximin which is located 30 miles North of Paris, France and that he was buried in Grave No. Z392 in the Creil Communal Cemetery, Oise, France." His Will, dated June 29, 1943, stated that he left "All My Estate" to his wife, Gwendolyn Madge Richards (nee Choyce). It was also noted in his Estates Branch Application that a $200 Victory Bond had been purchased and was partially paid for. His mother, Mrs. Alexander Brown of Toronto (the former Nellie Richards who had remarried) and his widow, Mrs. Madge G. Richards of Toronto, each received his Memorial Cross. His wife also received his Operational Wings and Certificate, for operations against the enemy, which are not included here.