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Marine Bomber Shot Down by the Huns – No Casualties: Samuel S. Richards, Founder #2251

It happened in WWI during the last days of the conflict in Europe. A DH-4, powered by a Liberty 400 HP engine and fitted with four 150 lb. bombs, left our La Fresne field in Pas de Calais for a bombing raid on the German U-Boat depot at Bruges, Belgium. “Vince” Young (NA 519) was the pilot while “Dick” Richards (NA 822, the writer) was acting as Marine gunner in the rear Lewis gun scarf-mount.

The trip north was uneventful with only sporadic anti-aircraft fire. We circled the objective and dropped the four bombs on the U-Boat haven in the canals of the town where the subs were repaired and provisioned. By that time ack-ack became so severe we hightailed it for the safety of the English Channel.

But, a small piece of shrapnel had punctured our radiator and without water our engine heated up and the rpms dropped from 1650 to 1000, to 800, to 400, and CRUNCH – it was dead. We stayed over water with a dead stick as long as possible and landed on the beach at Nieuport, Belgium under machine gun fire from the German trenches. We were safe and sound on the Allied side in the sand dunes without a scratch on our persons. The date: 18 October 1918.

It was a horrible, sleepless night, what wiht the incessant cannonadeing and frustrating language barrier, but finally got a phone message through to our camp. The next day a squad of mechanics arrived in a Quad truck — took the wings off the DH-4 and towed it back to France. It was well perforated with machine gun bullets and when the engine was dimantled, the aluminum pistons were practically dust. I still have the largest piece – approximately 2″ x 2 1/2″ as a souvenir.

Semper Fidelis
Samuel S. Richards