Saturday, 12 September 2009

Friesche Luchtvaart Documentatie

Historians in the Netherlands are appealing to Worcester Park Blog readers to help with their search for information on an RAF bomber pilot killed when his plane was shot down over the Dutch village of Rottevalle during World War Two.

Dutch research group “Friesche Luchtvaart Documentatie 1939-1945”, has spent over thirty years researching the history of the air war over the Northern part of the Netherlands during World War II.

Over the years, their research has brought them in contact with many former airmen, pilot-helpers and other researchers all over the world. In some cases they have been able to discover up the fate of pilots who were reported missing in action and on occasion the researchers have succeeded in returning recovered personal items to families of airmen.

The air war over the northern Netherlands was a major element of the conflict between Britain and Germany during World War II. More than five hundred crashes were recorded in Friesland alone, and as many as six thousand in the whole of the Netherlands.

On the evening of 14th January 1942, the Whitley bomber from No. 51 Squadron Royal Air Force took off from RAF Dishforth for an operational flight to Emden, Germany. The pilot was Sergeant Eric John Richards, whose last know address was St Philips Avenue, Worcester Park.

At 3.30am on the 15th January, the bomber was intercepted by a German night fighter, flown by Kurt Zipperlein.

The aircraft was shot down, and crashed near the village of Rottevalle in Friesland killing three crew members, including Sergeant Richards. Three other crew members succeeded in bailing out. They were captured and spent the remainder of the war in a Prisoner Of War Camp.

To help them build their archive of information about the air war over the Netherlands, the reasearchers want to find out more about Eric John Richards. His last known home address was St Philips Avenue, where it was believed he lived with his father.

If you knew Sergeant Richards, his family or know of any living relatives please contact Douwe S. Drijver at the Verzetsmuseum Friesland -