RFC Trade: Observer
Date of Enlistment: 1914 in the Welsh Fusiliers, 1916 to Royal Flying Corps
Rank Achieved: 2nd Lieutenant
Date of Birth: 27th of February 1897, in Dolgelly, Wales
Personal Details: Hugh was the only son of Dr. R. Walter Richards and Mrs Richards. Whilst he was born in Wales, Hugh was educated at the City of London School in Queen Victoria Street, London. Upon leaving school he entered the Army, in 1914.
After the end of the Great War Hugh entered The Honourable Society of Gray's Inn, aka Gray's Inn, which was a professional association for barristers and judges in London. However by 1923 he and his wife Mary (known as Molly) were living in Llansillan Oswestry on the Welsh border, , Molly's home town. The house they were living in was known as Glascoed, and was in Wales but the attached farm was actually in England with the border bisecting the property.
Hugh's parents decided to emigrated and settle in Wellington, New Zealand, as Dr Richards considered there were better prospects in this country for him than in Wales. So Hugh and Molly decided to accompany them and also make the move to New Zealand. The four all arrived on the 23rd of August 1923 in Wellington aboard the Shaw, Savill & Albion steamer Corinthic from London and Southampton.
While Dr. Richards and his wife stayed in Wellington, Hugh and Molly moved to the Waikato. After a short period working on a farm they settled in Te Awamutu and Hugh became a mail contractor in 1928. This business seems to have collapsed in 1929 after Hugh incurred several problems with vehicles and his health, forcing bankruptcy. Soon after this they moved to Cambridge and had a small farm in Carter's Flat..
In May 1936 he spent a week in Wellington with his parents, where Hugh was making his peace with his mother following a previous falling out. When he'd made peace Hugh was ready to go home, but on the return railway trip towards Cambridge he began to feel ill at Ngaio, and it turned out he was having a heart attack. This was his second heart attack, he'd previously suffered a more mild angina attack and had recovered.
When the train reached Levin he was so ill he was removed from the train and taken to Levin Hospital. he died there. He left his wife Molly and five children, with two more on the way.
On the 14th of June 1936 a "Grand Benefit Concert & Dance" was put on in the Parish Hall in Cambridge to raise funds for Molly and the children. This was organised by the community who'd known and respected Hugh. The event was patronised by the Cambridge Mayor, and a range of local artists performed.
Their children were:
Hugh Llewellyn Richards (born 4 July 1924, died 17 September 2016)
Arthur Michael Richards (born 20 July 1925, died 23 June 1978)
Peter Frederick Richards (born 14 October 1926, died 15 August 2008)
Richard Watkin Paul "Sam" Richards (born 3 July 1928, died 17 February 2009),
and the twins Anne and Mary who were born three months after Hugh's death.
Mary "Molly" Richards died on the 13th of January 1991.
Service Details: Hugh joined the Welsh Fusiliers in 1914. He trained as an officer and was granted a temporary commission as a Second Lieutenant in the 17th Battalion (2nd North Wales) on the 19th of June 1915.
He transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in 1916 and trained as an Observer. Hugh joined No. 48 Squadron, RFC, as an Observer in Bristol F.2A Fighters on the Western Front. He was wounded on the 2nd of May 1917 while on an operation in a Bristol F.2A Fighter during the Arras push. Whilst both Hugh and his pilot were badly wounded while deep over German territory they managed to make it back to the safety of the Allied line and land right next to a British hospital. The resulting injuries left Hugh with his right leg 4 inches (100mm) shorter than his left leg. Postwar Hugh was receiving an 80% disability war pension.
Died: 30th of May 1936, at Levin Hospital from a heart attack, aged 38
Connection with Cambridge: Hugh moved to Cambridge around 1929 or the early 1930's and lived here till his untimely death in 1936.
Thanks To: Hugh's daughters Mary Richards (Sister Mary David) and Anne Richards for their family memories, Errol Martyn, the Cambridge Museum and Papers Past