Richmond A

Air Mechanic 1st Class 94557 Allan Richmond, RFC/RAF

Allan%20Richmond.jpg

Died 1st April 1918

Allan Richmond was born in Stokesley in 1886. He was the son of John Richmond, a tinsmith born in Thirsk and Elizabeth Martha Gilchrist who were married in Stokesley in 1871. Elizabeth Martha was the daughter of John Gilchrist from Lewis and his wife Elizabeth Skeen who was born in Hutton Rudby. Allan therefore shared the same great grandparents as John George Skeen (see Skeen J G)

When Allan was born, he was the youngest of a family of seven, having three brothers (William, John and Charles) and three sisters: Cora, Annie, and Mary. In 1891 the family was living in Back Lane in the town, and Allan’s oldest brother, thirteen years his senior, was already working as a saddler’s apprentice.

Ten years later, the 1901 census recorded that the familywas living in South Side and that all of Allan’s older siblings were at work. Allan also had a younger sister, Mary, who was 9 years old.

By 1911 Allan Richmond was 24. All his older brothers and sisters had left the parental home, but Allan was still living in South Side Stokesley with his parents and his sister Mary. Allan’s occupation was listed as house painter. The Book of Remembrance says that Allan was a member of the church choir, but does not say when or for how long.

Early in 1915, Allan Richmond married Mary Amelia Flaxman in Stokesley. Mary’s father George Whisson Flaxman was the proprietor of the Shoulder of Mutton Inn, and had recently moved into the town with his family from West Hartlepool. George’s wife Rose Amelia Ridsdale was also from Hartlepool, where they had married in 1892. They had seven children there, four of whom had unfortunately died. Their youngest daughter Joanna however was born in Stokesley in 1909.

Allan and Mary had 2 children; a daughter Joyce was born at the end of 1915 and a son, Allan junior, was born in 1917.

The Royal Air Force Muster Roll of 1918 states that Allan enlisted on 25th April 1917 as Air Mechanic 94557 A Richmond of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). It may be that he had not even seen his new son when he enlisted.

Air Mechanic in the RFC was a rank like Private or Corporal in the army. His actual trade in this post seems to have been painting aircraft. On 1st January 1918 Allan Richmond, who was based at Stamford, was promoted to Air Mechanic 1st Class -and as such he was paid 4/- per week. (At this time a Private in the army was paid 1/8d and a clerk could reckon to earn 3 shillings!).

In 1916 the Royal Flying Corps was seeking suitable sites to provide air defence bases, and chose to establish 2 airfields in the Stamford area: Wittering Heath (known simply as Stamford) and Easton on the Hill. Major Harris (later known as ‘Bomber’ Harris, Marshall of the RAF) played a crucial role in choosing Wittering Heath. He had formed the No 38 Home Defence (HD) Squadron at Castle Bromwich and was looking for sites for its operation. “A” flight was based at Stamford.

As WW1 continued Stamford was involved in a major expansion to provide training. The first of the new units was No1 Training Depot Station (TDS) which was formed on 30th July 1917. During this time the aerodrome housed a variety of aircraft including Avro 504, RE8, and the Sopwith Camel and Pup. (See http://www.raf.mod.uk/rafwittering).

“A” Flight No 38 (HD) Squadron left for combat in France in November 1917, and the Station’s role from that point on became solely training. Flying was a new art, and aircraft a new technology, so life in the RFC could prove precarious, even for non-combatants. Lieutenant P. B. Townsend later recalled that there was a fatal accident at Stamford nearly every week.

On 1st April 1918, the RFC became the RAF and Stamford became known as RAF Wittering. The Muster Roll for Air Mechanic Richmond had been completed in readiness for this change, but unfortunately Allan Richmond died on exactly the same day.

The Book of Remembrance simply records that following an accident in Stamford, Allan Richmond died of severe burns. Official RAF records further state that he died in Stamford Infirmary, and list septicaemia, pneumonia, fall and burns as causes. However, these records also tell us that his Casualty Card was later destroyed (14/10/20) and researches to date have not established either the nature of the accident nor its date. Given the nature of the list of causes of death, however, the date of the original accident must have been several days at least before that of his death. Possible causes of the accident include a fuel spillage, or, (perhaps just as likely in view of Allan Richmond’s work), a fire in the paint depot.

Air Mechanic Allan Richmond was brought home for burial in Stokesley. At his funeral service his favourite hymns, including ‘Rock of Ages,’ were sung and he was laid to rest in Stokesley Cemetery. He was 32 years old, and left a widow and 2 children, then aged only 2½ years and 1 year.

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