270416 Lt. John Morgan-Richards, Royal Engineers: 30/11/1944

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by von Poop, Jul 14, 2007.

  1. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Ok then boys and girls,
    Not the kind of question I usually ask but I was wondering if you can help me put some flesh on this? My mum's intrigued by it.

    This is a great-uncle of mine:
    Lieutenant John Morgan Richards | War Casualty Details | CWGC
    Service Number: 270416
    Regiment & Unit/Ship: Royal Engineers
    Date of Death: Died 30 November 1944
    Age 38 years old
    Buried or commemorated at IMPHAL WAR CEMETERY
    Grave Reference: 7. J. 20.
    Location: India
    Additional Info: Son of Thomas Morgan Richards and Rosalind Morgan Richards, of Barnes, Surrey. M.I.Struct.E.

    Family legend has it that he was killed in Burma when his jeep struck a mine, only having been in country for a week after discarding reserved occupation status to volunteer (architect/civil engineer we think).
    Saddest part of the story is the immediate family, Mother, siblings etc. apparently never mentioned him again from the moment the news arrived, presumably 'stiff upper lip' and all that...

    Any chance whatsoever of adding more to the story on such a limited start? I know with a bit of luck you 'regi-mental' types can be damned good at this and there's very little chance of more info from the family.
    The CWGC listing has him down as Richards, but the family name was Morgan-Richards.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 21, 2022
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  2. Kyt

    Kyt Very Senior Member

    Well, his promotion had been gazetted from the date 16 April 1943.
  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Sad story that.
    Maybe put a request on the Burma Star site?
    Get your Mum to order his Service Record.
    Find his Unit then check their war Diary at TNA, Officer casualties are usually mentioned.
    What School/University did he go to?
    Some Unis have already researched their Old Boys War Dead.

    (PS Thought you weren't into family history. ;) )
  4. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Adam, prompted by your other post with the photo of his original grave, and, as you didn't seem to get much response on this thread in 2007, and although you say that you have uncovered the details in the intervening 15 years, I thought I would post the following, although I expect that you have seen them:-

    Casualty List No. 1623 Dated 7 December 1944
    Richards 1.jpg

    Casualty List No. 1629 Dated 14 December 1944
    Richards 2.jpg

    ? Chartered Engineer, born 27 August 1906, living at 4 Elton Road, Bristol, in 1939:-
    Richards 1939.jpg

    ? Passenger to Lisbon (2nd class) on MS Baloeran from Southampton on 24 December 1937, occupation structural engineer, returned on SS Avila Star (1st class) to London arriving 5 January 1938. (Short trip!)

    Updated link as original not working:- Lieutenant John Morgan Richards | War Casualty Details | CWGC
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  5. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Thank you very much, Tony. Had completely forgotten this thread. (15 years old thread! )
    All those things adding more to the limited knowledge.
    Grim detail he took a week to die. Story had been instant until your info.
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  6. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    My mother had no photographs of herself as a child, and maybe three or four of her family.
    Her final sibling dying led to the revelation of a vast heap of family photos etc.
    Finally got a chance to inspect them and begin scanning stuff.

    Pretty much all I had on My Great Uncle was the CWGC reference above & Tony's kind additions.
    This has changed somewhat...

    The man himself, Prewar:

    As a child:
    Scan_20221017 (74).jpg Scan_20221017 (77).jpg Scan_20221017 (63).jpg Scan_20221017 (13).jpg Scan_20221017 (99).jpg Scan_20221017 (79).jpg

    As a Cellist (Apparently under the stage name 'John Gabalfa'. I'm going to assume some separation was required between life as an architect/Engineer & playing in orchestras.) :
    Scan_20221017 (68).jpg Scan_20221017 (20).jpg Scan_20221017 (34).jpg celli.jpg

    Many other such images have bubbled up, but I'm already starting get an idea of a person, rather than just a few lines of CWGC & official info.
    Then In that heap of photos, I picked out a tatty plastic folder.
    In the folder were letters and assorted other newspaper cuttings etc.

    The substantial amount of letters tell a tale of someone that fought to get into the Army from a reserved occupation, was torpedoed (maybe twice, I haven't read them all yet), & was keen to keep his mother informed of his progress. They also have a slightly excited tone about finally getting into the war. He comes across as a good-natured chap.

    Christmas cards, etc.

    In the middle of all that was this:

    Finally! An image of the man in uniform.
    Maybe somewhat ill at ease in uniform, or maybe rather uncomfortable at the portrait being taken, but the one clear image I've ever seen of Lt. John Morgan Richards RE in service.
    Scan_20221018 (16).jpg

    And then, beneath all the letters. A very small envelope, different to all the other wartime mail, addressed to his mum, my Great Grandmother.
    One that would doubtless make many here go 'Oh'.
    It certainly did me.

    And, of course, within:
    Scan_20221018 (18).jpg

    You sort of sit and stare for a while.
    I've got kids. I cannot imagine receiving such.

    I wasn't fully aware that the CWGC sent images of grave markers etc., but there's a fair amount of correspondence with them.

    IMG_20221110_125220309.jpg IMG_20221110_125311735.jpg

    Interesting change to one of the addressed envelopes:

    And this.

    Killed ten days after he sent a Christmas card to his mum...

    What this overload of things relating to the man has largely done for me, other than somehow making him 'real', is strengthen the feeling that it is so important to remember these people.
    And 'People' is the word. Not heroes or a 'greatest generation', just people; with all the traits and personal history that people carry, warts & all, who went off and engaged in a cause greater than themselves.
    (Even the family's inability to speak of him is part of that story. I'd thought maybe stiff upper lip, but someone kept that folder, and someone had many of his photographs bundled in one place, sometimes taken from albums to add to the bundle.)

    Sometimes they returned to carry on with normal life.
    Sometimes they stayed where their lives were cut short, like my Great Uncle John.

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  7. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Died on this day, 78 years ago.
    A week in hospital after the jeep incident.

    Really must get to the bottom of that one day.
    The story of the vehicle hitting a mine seems to persist within the family.

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