Fireman Charles Henry Richards
Leatherhead Fire Brigade

Town Memorial WWII Panel

Charles Henry Richards b.18/11/1907 d.11/3/1941 age 33 years

His parents were Charles Henry Richards and Lillian (Lily) Kate Lacey. He was born at Turkey Island, Wickham, Southampton. He died at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth. He was married to Rose Alice Gunner (4/4/1908-3/2/1995) married 3/11/1928, in Wandsworth, London. They had one daughter June Rose Richards b.4/4/1929 who married Eric Edward Chenery b.29/11/1929 m.7/8/1950.

Rose Alice Richards re-married on 30/10/1943, to Charles Henry Janman (13/4/1907-14/12/1965) (no children).

Charles Henry Richards was a fireman with Leatherhead Fire Service. He was seconded to Portsmouth one week prior to his death to give help and relief to the Portsmouth Fire Service. He was in the fire car when a bomb was dropped and exploded next to the car. He bent down to dodge the glass from the windscreen and some shrapnel went through the side of the car and hit him in the head. He was taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth, where he died.

It is believed his body was returned to Leatherhead by car. A few days later he was brought to his house in Poplar Road on the back of a fire engine.The coffin was covered with a Union Jack. The fire engine then went in procession, escorted by a parade of firemen, to St. Mary and St. Nicholas Church where he was buried.

courtesy of Mrs Marion Donnelly, cutting from a local paper, 20th July 1989.

His daughter June was only 11 years old and did not go to the funeral. She remembers there being a fire alarm bell in the hall of their home. It was about 6" wide and had a little hammer on the side, and used to ring loudly when her father was being called to a fire. The Richards had a fireman lodger during the war, called Frederick Dean. When the bell rang they would run to the front door where their firemen's trousers and boots were kept. They pulled these on and ran out either to their bikes or to Frederick Dean's car (depending on petrol availability).

MARCH 11TH 1941

The fire station was then at the bottom of Bridge Street on the right hand side, by the River Mole. Mrs Doreen Harris's father was another fireman at the same station, but neither he nor Fred Dean went to Portsmouth with Mr Richards. Only four or five men went, including Mr. Winteridge (senior), who also lived in Leatherhead. The Richards lived at 31 Poplar Road (which was later renumbered as 95 Poplar Road sometime between 16th June 1959 and 7th September 1959).

Age: 33
Date of Death: 11/03/1941
Additional information: Fireman, Leatherhead Fire Brigade. Husband of Rose A. Richards, of 31 Poplar Road, Leatherhead, Surrey. Died at Queen Alexandra Hospital.
Civilian Roll of Honour Section:

Charles Richards is buried in LEATHERHEAD (SS. MARY AND NICHOLAS) CHURCHYARD, grave no.455.

1. St Mary & St Nicholas Leatherhead Graves database, Leatherhead & District Local History Society
2. With thanks to Mrs Doreen Harris of Leatherhead whose response to a letter published in the Leatherhead Advertiser, July 2004, enabled progress on research on Mr Richards (Mrs Harris's father was a Leatherhead fireman with Mr Richards): and to Mrs Marion Donnelly, a grandaughter of Mr Richards for providing the detailed information and photo of the funeral.


Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry

Portsmouth in the Second World War - 1941

the website editor would like to add further information on this casualty
e.g. a photo of him and of further recollections within his family.

last updated 20 Jan 2005: 13 Feb 14: CWGC links updated 7 Nov 17