A Second World War "Operation Varsity" D.F.M. group of five to Staff Sergeant F.A.Richards, Glider Pilot Regiment,
Lot 99
A Second World War "Operation Varsity" D.F.M. group of five to Staff Sergeant F.A.Richards, Glider Pilot Regiment,
Sold for £ 11,750 (US$ 15,454) inc. premium

Lot Details
A Second World War "Operation Varsity" D.F.M. group of five to Staff Sergeant F.A.Richards, Glider Pilot Regiment,
Distinguished Flying Medal, G.VI.R. (2589301. Staff-Sjt. F.A.Richards. A.A.C.); 1939-1945 Star; France and Germany Star; Defence Medal; War Medal. Very fine. (Lot)


  • D.F.M. London Gazette 16.8.1945.

    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.

    The lot includes a detailed archive of memorabilia as follows:

    Miniature Medals; Soldier's service and paybook; Medal slip for WW2 Medals; 1984 Commemorative medal; 1989 Commemorative medal, A.A.C. badge E.II.R. issue; Medal bar; Logbook covering the period from July 1943 until June 1944; Horsa Glider Flying Notes; History of the Glider Pilot; Silently to War VHS Video; Red Beret (postwar issue); Photograph album; Resume of wartime service; Pencil Sketchbook; Pegasus Bridge souvenir; Red Berets into Normandy; Scrapbook containing photos Paperwork telegrams etc. Claude Smith manuscript for the History of the Glider Pilot Regiment Book; 36 assorted sketches, watercolours etc of wartime interest.

    Staff Sergeant Frank Alan Richards was by trade a commercial artist. He enlisted on 10.10.1939 joining the Royal Signals, he saw service in France and was evacuated at Dunkirk. In turn he volunteered for the Glider Pilot Regiment transferring on 18.9.1942 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 or at Arnhem, however his services were used for the final major operation in WW2 the Rhine Crossing on the 24th March 1945. This was a case of landing as many gliders as possible on the same day unlike Arnhem which had landings over a period causing more and more casualties as days passed.

    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 Down Ampney, Gloucestershire. He was transferred to reserve on 1.4.1946.

    Post War he continued his love of painting and his work took on a wartime theme with a number of pictures, including the front cover as featured in the History of the Glider Pilot Regiment by Claude Smith.

    A total of 11 DFM's were awarded for the Rhine Crossing to the Regiment.

Saleroom notices

  • S.Sgt Richards was also involved in the first lift to Arnhem, taking across a 6 Pdr 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.
Auction information

This sale is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future sales, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this sale, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations


If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories excluding Wine, Coins & Medals and Motor Cars and Motorcycles:

Buyer's Premium Rates
25% on the first £175,000 of the Hammer Price
20% from £175,001 to £3,000,000 the Hammer Price
12.5% from £3,000,001 of the Hammer Price

VAT at the current rate of 20% will be added to the Buyer's Premium and charges excluding Artists Resale Right.

Payment Notices

For payment information please refer to the sale catalogue.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licences please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

Similar Items