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WW2 and Malaya group – Brigadier, Royal Engineers (Now with more detailed research)


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WW2 and Malaya group – Brigadier, Royal Engineers

Africa Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45; General Service 1918-62, clasp, Malaya, G.VI.R., Lt/Col. G. C. Richards. R.E. mounted as worn, and housed in a Dollimore’s, Farnborough, card box; together with the recipient’s related miniature awards, these similarly mounted, and two riband bars,

The following taken from the Royal Engineers Journal with a photograph of him.

“George Cary Richards was born on the 28th February 1907  in Bath and was commissioned into the Royal Engineers 2/Lieut 30th August 1926.Then after Chatham and Downing College he graduated as BA, he was posted to Roorkhee in 1929.  In 1930 he applied for Indian Railways one of the last two Sapper Officers to join them and in the interim before posting was sent to Peshawar to the staff of the CRE for a minor local operation against the Afridies.  After this he took local leave to join a friend engaged on the survey for a road joining Swat with Buner, the latter having been unadministered since the early 1900’s.  It was a strenuous fortnight.  Living as he was in a shack of a local malick reputedly not above sniping by night at the infidels with whom he co-operated by day.  

By the time he joined the N W Railway all construction work had been suspended due to the current depression, and George  found himself “Sleeper Passing Officer” in the jungle remote from civilisation .  After a year he was rewarded for outstanding results by another spell of the same routine, but declined in spite of the potential to save more money, and reverted to military employment.

After service as GE Razmak from 1934 and for the last three years before WW2 at AHQ Delhi he was posted to the OVO Madras S & M in Bangalore.  There his first task was to raise 101 Railway Construction Company.  Having handed it over to Dick(later Brigadier) Gardiner of Indian Railways, he raised and took overseas 58 field company.  He began correctly under current instructions, by insisting that58 should be an Urdu speaking unit, notwithstanding that the language was alien to his Dravidian Madras Sappers.  But he soon changed his mind when ordered to Egypt the Company was employed in teaching Gurkhas, Free Greeks etc, to lay many thousands of somewhat dicey locally manufactured anti-tank mines and later having to work with British and NZ Infantry.

Pailforce, in Northern Persia, to which 58 Coy was transferred, posed different problems.  Work largely consisted of concrete for gun-pits, weapon-pits and tank traps.  The very severe winter interrupted it, and activities were then bent on making living conditions as tolerable as possible.  Sappers with pre-war frontier experience were accustomed to this climate, but the war-time entry had never so much as seen snow, and it is unfortunately recorded that the OC with his Subedar could be seen onbitter mornings walking around the dug-in tents with a bottle of rum to prise the tyros from their bedding.  There is certainly evidence that his troops loved George, and 26 Brigade, with whom he had been working, was unanimously dismayed at his departure back to Bangalore in 1943.

As a result of his having qualified in 1942 at the staff college in Haifa his stay inBangalore was curtailed after only a few months by a posting to AHQ Delhi to be a GSO1.  His next appointment as CRE in Johore came in 1948, but her was destined by a severe heart attack to be invalided home to the UK after only a very short while.  Onrecovery there followed a spell of 18 months as CRE Aldershot, and thence he went as SORE (1) to BJSM Washington, a job involving liaison with American Army units, Engineers at Fort Belvoir, Armoured Corps at Fort Riley, Gunners at Fort Stilland Fort Knox, an Airborne base at Fort Campbell, and visits to Vicksburg and to Canadian Engineer units in Ottawa and Petawawa.  Major General Walkey, the then Engineer-in-chief at the War Office, visited Washington in 1954 and had this to say: “I congratulate you on the excellent liaison you have built up during your time in the States.  I heard from every side praise in the way Sapper co-operation with the Corps of Engineers had advance far beyond that of other arms, and was myself delighted with the friendliness which was shown us by all the US Engineers we met.”

Returning to the UK in 1955 his two year spell as Commandant, Joint Concealment Centre, resulted in Lieut General Sir James Cassels congratulating him on his drive and initiative which raised the standard of concealment practice, and also the introduction of psychological warfare to a reluctant and sceptical Army.

His final posting before retiring in 1960 was as Senior Military Officer to Sir Donald bailey, then the Chief Superintendent of MEXE in Christchurch. There his energy, firmness and tact were appreciated by all grades of staff, civil and military, particularly for his success, during the negotiations between industry and the HQ organisation, in introducing with the minimum of friction the new commitment for civil testing. During his retirement at Abbots Leigh near Bristol he applied his talents to the Bursarship of Avonhurst School in Bristol until advised medically to leave.  Also he was for nine years Hon Treasurer for St Brigid’s International Hostel for Girls, likewise in Bristol, and despite increasing disability he continued to take part in local church and village activities.

These disabilities steadily progressed, involving periods of intense pain and physical deprivations.  He endured them with serenity and without complaint.  All in all his many friends cannot but be grateful for the luck which led to their first associations with him.

He died at home on the 22nd January 1980″

Lieutenant 30th August 1929

Captain 30th August 1937

Staff Off R.E. 3rd Grade 4th May 1936 to 30th May 1940

Acting Major 23rd August 1940 to 22nd November 1940

Temporary Major 23rd November  1940 to 23rd November 1942.

Major 30th August 1943

Lieutenant-Colonel on 5 February 1950.

Promoted Brigadier on 31 January 1957, he retired on 12 May 1960.

Condition – NEF