James Robert Richards learned the art of watch-making following high school. The Second World War required the enlistment of men and women. Jim signed up, and left for England in the spring of 1941.
Stationed in the small town of Linton, he trained as an instrument mechanic and worked to maintain a number of military and civilian aircraft, which traversed the channel day and night, carrying out missions over Europe. The RCAF was known for its daring nighttime flights, when instrumentation was primitive and the risks high.
Friendships were celebrated with gusto (and tears), as pilots and crews headed off to combat, knowing some would not return.
Jim achieved the position of Sergeant, and became enamored of Marian Barclay (also a Sergeant), who worked in the parts and supplies depot. She was the only woman he knew who'd learned to drive a tank!
The loss of friends, and the terrors of flying in patched and pitted aircraft, took their toll on everyone. When the war ended, Jim and "Miss Barclay" returned to Canada, where they were wed in a small ceremony near her parents' home in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Neither Jim nor Marian forgot their friends who returned to Canada with them, nor those who were lost overseas. Jim Richards (RCAF, 408 Squadron) continued to keep in touch with two remaining comrades, and attended every November 11th Remembrance Day celebration faithfully.
"We grew up during the war", Jim says. "Sheer luck and the love of God allowed us to grow older".
Read all of Lynn's Remembrance Day strips here.