The postmen who never came back from the War

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The next time you collect a parcel from Richmond Sorting Office glance at the brass plaque listing the local posties who gave their all during the two world wars.

Unusually for a war memorial there are more names from the Second World War. The stories of the men in many ways tell the story of the War from a British perspective.

Henry Ernest Coles is the only civilian casualty. He was killed on 10 July 1944 when his house in Palmerston Road, East Sheen suffered a direct hit from a V1. At 53 he was too old to serve in the forces so had joined the Home Guard.

Signalman Herbert Henry Tinson died as a Japanese prisoner of war on 30 June 1943. He was actually a member of the Royal Signals Corps, not the Royal Engineers as given on the memorial. Undoubtedly he was taken prisoner during the Fall of Singapore in February 1942.

36-year-old Lance Sergeant William Olrog, Royal Artillery, was killed on St Valentine’s Day 1942 during the last chaotic hours before the British forces surrendered to the Japanese.

Walter Thomas Langford

Walter Thomas Langford,  a postman driver, served in the Royal Army Service Corps and died on 2 April 1943, aged 39. Walter (pictured here) was the son of Walter and Alice Langford of Richmond, and was the husband of  Dorothy Gladys Langford, of Richmond.  He is buried in Bengazi War Cemetery near Tripoli.

The last months of the War saw the death of Craftsman Ronald Goymour REME on 5 February 1945. He is buried at Leopoldsburg war cemetery. He may have died of wounds at a military hospital which was established in the village in late 1944.

Three former postmen died while flying on missions with Bomber Command over Europe.

Sergeant Les Gray, who came from Hounslow, was an air gunner in 150 Squadron RAF. His Wellington aircraft failed to return from a bombing sortie over Duisburg on the night of 8 June 1942. The probability is that the aircraft was badly damaged and crashed in the North Sea on its way back to RAF Snaith near Goole. He has no known resting place and so is commemorated at the Memorial at Runnymede. Aged 21, he is the youngest person on the memorial.

Robert Plant was a wireless operator in 13 Squadron RAF. His Blenheim aircraft was shot down during a raid on St Trond Luftwaffe airfield on the night of 25/26 June 1942. The other members of the aircrew were also killed.  He is buried at Wouwaart Churchyard near Leuven in Belgium.

Sergeant Roy Burgess was a navigator in 106 Squadron.  He was killed on 9 October 1943 and lies in Hanover War Cemetery.  Roy was the son of Richmond residents Walter Ernest and Ellen Elizabeth Burgess of Richmond.