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Richards, Frank Alan

Service number:
British (1801-present, Kingdom)


Frank Richards, a commercial artist, enlisted on October 10th, 1939 and joined the Corps of Royal Signals. He saw service in France and was evacuated at Dunkirk. He then volunteered for the Glider Pilot Regiment transferring on September 18th, 1942 despite the Royal Signals wishing to keep him. He began flight training in July 1943 at R.A.F. Booker. He did not see service on D-Day but he was involved in the first lift to Arnhem, taking across a 6 pounder and Jeep. He escaped across the Rhine and returned to the UK. His memories of Arnhem were such that he hardly ever mentioned the Battle.
He came in action again during the final major operation in WW2 the Rhine Crossing on the 24th March 1945.
He was assigned to attack a flak H.Q. at 10.30am with troops from the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry. They were due to take off at 07.30 on the 24th March however the Halifax that was towing them had major problems. Eventually he was towed back to the start position and took off some 45 minutes later and headed towards Brussels. The pilot of the Halifax tried to get him back to his original position in what was a huge line of gliders and attack aircraft. Upon release the Horsa went into a dive and was hit by flak. Despite being hit and having major contolling problems of the aircraft he landed the glider north of the intended target. The troops and the Jeep in the back were released with gun following. He made his way to a First Aid Post and eventually made it to the rendez-vous for the Glider Pilots. Whilst waiting they heard the sound of Panzers, he and his colleagues hit the deck and watched with awe as a couple of Tempest's put pay to the tanks. He was then taken to a British General Hospital on the outskirts of Brussels and flown back on a Dakota to the UK.
He was transferred to reserve on April 1st, 1946.
Post War he continued his love of painting and one of his works appeared on the front cover of the History of the Glider Pilot Regiment by Claude Smith.

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Second World War (1939-1945)
Staff Sergeant
No. 1 Wing, Glider Pilot Regiment, Divisional Troops, 6th Airborne Division, British Army
Awarded on:
August 16th, 1945
Awarded for:
Operation Varsity
"On 24th March, 1945, Staff Sergeant Richards was the first pilot of a Horsa glider taking part in the airborne assault across the Rhine, North of Wessel. On approaching the landing zone after a flight of 3 hours, it was difficult to pick out landmarks due to the enemy smoke screen. In spite of considerable enemy anti-aircraft fire, Staff Sergeant Richards pressed on to land in his alloted area. During this time, the glider was severely damaged by anti-aircraft fire, wounding himself his second pilot and one passenger. The glider became uncontrollable in a steep dive, but by Staff Sergeant Richards' coolness and skill, he was able to make a landing in the correct part of the area chosen for his load. In spite of his wounds, Staff Sergeant Richards supervised the unloading of the glider and therefore by his skill in the air and conduct on the ground, ensured the full effectiveness of the load carried in his glider."
Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM)


  • - Supplement to The London Gazette Issue 37223 published on the 14 August 1945
    - Bonhams