John Arthur Richards

John was born on the 26th June 1922 in Subiaco, a suburb of Perth. He joined the RAAF in 1941 and began training as a fighter pilot. When posted to England, to continue his training, he was told immediately that he would be needed to fly bombers. Reluctantly he accepted this posting after saying, in his own words, “I won’t accept the responsibility of a crew, as a fighter pilot if my plane goes down then it’s only me at risk”.

Conversion training began on two engine Wellington bombers, then on to the four engine Stirling before finally on to, again John’s words, “that great aircraft the Lancaster “.

Posted to 467 Sqn at Waddington his baptism of fire was to begin as a Lancaster bomber pilot. Thirteen sorties over the next few months saw operations bombing targets in Germany, France and also providing daylight support for the armies fighting their way into France. On the night of the 29th/30th August 1944, John and his crew were shot down over Konigsberg and two of his crew perished. The next day John and other survivors were picked up by the Germans and spent the rest of the war in Stalag Luft 1 as prisoners of war.

Upon liberation, John returned to Australia and over the next three years he married, started a family and completed an Arts degree at the University of Western Australia as well as successfully applying to join the WA Education Department. He retired from teaching in1982, in Albany. His first wife died from cancer in 1985 and John returned to Perth.

John returned to Lincolnshire on a couple of occasions, the first in 2014 where he returned to RAF Waddington to “complete his mission” as he put it and, again in 2018 for the official opening of the IBCC, where he paid his respects to his two lost crew members.

John died at his home in Joondalup on the 12th August 2021.

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