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Eric Richmond

Eric RichmondFlying Officer Eric Richmond, 100 Squadron, Royal Air Force.

Eric Richmond was born on the 13th February 1921, in Ossett, the second child of Harry Richmond and his wife Mary (nee Bowers) who married in Uttoxeter, Staffs in the summer of 1915. Eric had an elder sister Joyce who was born in 1916 and another sister, Jessie who was born in late 1924.

In September 1939 Harry and Mary Richmond were living with their two daughters, Joyce and Jessie, at 550, Wakefield Road, Dewsbury where Harry worked as a butcher. One name in the 1939 register is redacted and it seems likely that this name is Eric.

In 1940, at the age of 19 Eric Richmond volunteered to join the R.A.F. In September 1943, after successfully completing his flight training in South Africa, Eric was awarded his "wings" and was stationed at the RAF Waltham near Grimsby, in Lincolnshire.

On the 15th December 1942, R.A.F. 100 Squadron R.A.F. proper was re-formed at R.A.F. Waltham, as a night-time heavy bomber squadron and was part of No. 1 Group, R.A.F. Bomber Command. In January 1943, the squadron received the first of its new complement of 16 Mk. III Avro Lancasters. The first operation of the squadron was on the 4th March 1943 on a mine laying mission, near the U-boat base at St Nazaire. Two of the Lancaster bombers were lost on this first raid.

A few days later the squadron was involved in a raid against Nuremberg in Germany and from then on, as part of Bomber Command's strategic role against Germany, took part in every major raid. At the end of 1943, the squadron had completed the second largest number of successful operations of units within No. 1 Group Bomber Command and had the lowest 'loss' rate.

On the night of the 16/17th December 1943, the squadron received orders to attack Berlin. The raid became known as 'Black Thursday' as Bomber Command lost 25 aircraft on the raid and 28 in crashes at fog-shrouded airfields. That night, 100 Squadron lost their commanding officer, David Holford, who crashed landed approaching R.A.F. Waltham. On the night of the 5th June 1944, the squadron bombed heavy gun batteries in support of the D-Day invasion.

For the last month of the war, the squadron moved to R.A.F. Elsham Wolds in Lincolnshire. In the latter stages of the war and post-war, the squadron was involved in the humanitarian Operations Manna and Exodus. At the end of December 1945 the squadron moved to R.A.F. Scampton, being the last squadron on that station to operate the Avro Lancaster The squadron then departed for R.A.F. Lindholme in May, 1946.

Eric Richmond stayed in the R.A.F. for another two years, where he achieved the rank of Flying Officer and piloted Wellington and Lancaster bombers in 100 Squadron. There is no doubt that he saw a lot of action and was one of the lucky (or skilful) ones to survive. His last flight in his Lancaster bomber "Santa Azucar" was on the 23rd July 1945 from R.A.F. Elsham Wolds over the North Sea on a bomb disposal mission.

Eric Richmond and his crew

Above: Picture of Flying Officer Eric Richmond with his flying crew and ground staff with their 100 Squadron Lancaster bomber "Santa Azucar" in July 1945 at R.A.F. Elsham. The Lancaster survived WW2 and was eventually scrapped on the 3rd July 1951.

When the war ended, Eric finally returned home where he opened Richmond's Butchers in September 1945. Eric Richmond married Beryl Holl in summer 1944 and a son, Robin Eric Richmond, was born in 1946. A second son, Michael Richmond was born in 1948. Richmond's Butchers is one of the best-known shops in Ossett and are proud of the fact that some of their customers have been visiting their shop in the Market Place, since it opened over 70 years ago. In 2010, the £600,000 per annum turnover business also has a store in Barnsley Road, Sandal, near Wakefield, which was opened by Eric Richmond's youngest son Michael in February 2000. Robin Richmond ran the Dale Street, Ossett factory until 2014 when the business was sold.

Eric Richmond died on the 2nd November 2013 in Wakefield, aged 92 years.

Our thanks to Andrea Hartley for providing the original reference for Flying Officer Eric Richmond.

References:

1. "Yorkshire Post", 2nd September 2010