The cover of Richards Pilot Log Book from his first flight to his last.
At the age of 17 Richard opted for career with the RAF being told that Cranwell cadets were given a motor-bike to assist their training. He was two years at Cranwell before being commissioned.
1925 3rd Fighter Squadron, Upavon, Wiltshire
Commander John Russell, then J M Robb (‘a good man’) Group Captain Wilfred Freeman Flying Snipes (Sopworths) and Woolcocks (Hawker). Three months wireless course at Flowerdown outside Winchester where he met Chamberlain.
Posted to Iraq, Shiabah (outside Basra) 84th Squadron.
‘So began my love of the desert and desert people.’
Flying DH9A’s de Havillands. Defending Iraq against Turks under the League of Nations agreement. Limited to 5 squadrons for the whole area. Shot down in the desert, picked up by Fergi Barratt, who saved Richards life, risking his own.
1929 Posted to Mosul, 30th Squadron
Based in Bagdad. Mainly chasing Kurds. Flying DH9A’s
1930 HENLEY – Beds
Two year engineering course at Henley, Beds. Little flying only Moths and when he could.
1932 IRAQ – BAGHDAD
In fact posted to Egypt but he did an exchange with fellow RAF, Marshall. Marshall did the unusual and got married soon after being posted to Iraq where women were forbidden. Desolate and over some drinking he poured out his tale of woe to Richard who being posted to Egypt, suggested a swap. Marshall was over the moon.
Little flying because this was a depot. However Richard wangled it.
RK became commander of the Parachute Division and in charge of testing all single engine planes. Got one severe reprimand from AOC for trying to drive a horse and cart into a night club.
DH9A replaced by Westland Wapiti. Wapiti replaced by Vickers Vildebeest. RK sent to Egypt to collect the first Vildebeest. There was a more liberal social life in Egypt and RK made the most of it. He was found the next morning still in black tie and dead to world, so the CO put the overalls on top of his suit and sent him on his way.
‘Still with juice inside of me, I forgot to close the throttle! So it was I began making a record journey back to base. News of this speed and potential record reaching base, they organised a welcome party to meet me. On landing celebrations were in order and I had to make a hasty retreat to the nearest mess to change out of black tie!’
1935 BIGGIN HILL
Posted to Biggin Hill as Flight Lieutenant, 32 Squadron. CO Dickie Richardson
Responsible for Hendon display pageant.
Often entertaining travelling visitors forced to land at Biggin due to bad conditions at the two surrounding airports, Northolt and Croydon. One such German visitor never stopped complaining about the service, demanding cigars etc. When he asked for the bill, RK had the pleasure of telling him it was all gratis. The visitor was most embarrassed. On return to his home in Germany he sent the squad free tickets to the 1935 Olympic Games. RK went and was wined and dined in great style, watching Hitler open and close the ceremony from the best of seats.
This same German wrote to RK when RK was in the bag, he having escaped to the USA (he was Jewish) where he had read news of RK’s capture in the press. .