Navy Wings Supporter Alex Owen contacted us to share two stories involving his grandparents for our series of ‘dits’.
Having joined the Wrens (WRNS – Women’s Royal Naval Service) as an officer, aged 19, Sheila Tucker (pictured) fell in love with a Fleet Air Arm Sea Hurricane pilot named Charles William Grayburn Richardson (pic 2), known as ‘Grayburn’. A proposal soon followed and by 1944 they were due to be married. Sadly, but not uncommonly, Shelia had already had three fiancées killed in the war before Grayburn.
Grayburn Richardson, desperate to see his girl, flew over to Northern Ireland where Shelia was based running a radio telegraphy team. On landing at nearby Maydown, County Derry, he bumped into a great chum from training, Robert (Robin) Owen (pic 3). Robin was a lanky Scot, and former veterinary surgeon, whose application to join the cavalry was turned down on account of him being ‘too clever for the cav.’ (More on Robin to follow).
Knowing that Robin was based at Maydown flying Swordfish sorties over the Atlantic, Grayburn asked for him to look out for Shelia in his absence. Richardson was going aboard HMS Nairana, an aircraft carrier running convoy protection.
On 26th May 1944 his convoy was located by German Junkers Ju 290’s in the Bay of Biscay. Sub Lt Grayburn Richardson launched to drive them off in his Hurricane. He succeeded, but when diving against the enemy as they turned away, he couldn’t pull out of his dive. He hit the water and was killed. He was just 21 years old, and posthumously mentioned in despatches.
Robin Owen, true to his word, looked after Shelia, and in March 1946 they married (pic 4). Barely 9 months later my father ‘Grayburn’ Owen was born. My second name is Grayburn. As is my son’s. Grayburn Richardson was the only child of Reverend Richardson but his memory lives on everyday.