Richards, John Nigel
He was the son of Captain Anthony Reynell Threlfall Richards and Mariquita Elisabetta Angelica Richards (née Caird), of 2 Via Della Dogana, Florence, and entered Mr. A.E. Wilson’s House from Summerfields in September 1921. He was not athletic but tackled academic subjects with a quiet competence, and had no difficulty in getting into Sixth Book. In October 1926 he went up to Christ Church, Oxford, where he developed an interest in History and took a First Class in the Honour School in 1929.
He then went into business, becoming a company director. He lived at Hamlet House, Chetnole, Dorset, and on January 30th 1937 married Pamela Betty Fletcher Mossop, daughter of John Fletcher Mossop of Aldon, Somerset. The couple had one daughter.
In May 1943 he joined the RAFVR, and served as a rear-gunner with 7 Squadron, a Pathfinder Squadron operating from RAF Oakington equipped with Lancaster III bombers. The members of his crew spoke highly of his ability and courageous action.
On the evening of January 14th 1944 Richards was on board Lancaster JA905 (MG-V), which had survived five major operations, when it took off from Oakington at 1653.
Nearly five hundred aircraft set out on this, the first major raid on Brunswick. However, Brunswick was smaller than Bomber Command’s usual targets, and the raid was not a success. The city reports described this only as a ‘light’ raid, with bombs in the south of the city which had only ten houses destroyed and fourteen people killed. Most of the attack fell either in the countryside or in Wolfenbüttel and other small towns and villages well to the south of Brunswick. Back in England, it became clear from German radio that they had followed the progress of the bomber force from a position only forty miles off the English coast. Many German fighters entered the bomber stream soon after the German frontier was crossed near Bremen, and they steadily picked of the British planes until the Dutch coast was crossed on the return flight. Thirty-eight Lancasters were lost, eleven of them Pathfinders: 7 Squadron lost three, one of them Richards’.
Richards is buried in Collective Grave 3.G.4-11 of the Hanover War Cemetery. Fellow members of his crew also lie in this collective grave, which was used to hold the remains of several bomber crews shot down on the Brunswick raid.
On the same raid, fellow Wykehamist Flight Lieutenant Andrew Thomas Lawson-Tancred (C1928-1932), of 49 Squadron, was also shot down; he too lies in Hanover War Cemetery (see individual entry).
- Surname: Richards
- Forenames or initials: John Nigel
- House: K
- Years in School: 1921-1926
- Rank: Pilot Officer
- Regiment: RAF Volunteer Reserve
- Date of Birth: 16th February 1908
- Date of Death: 14th January 1944
- How Died: Killed in Action
- Location in War Cloister: Inner E1
- Decoration: NA
- Burial Site: Hanover War Cemetery: Collective Grave 3.G.4-11