Richard James Trebble 1926-1945

Richard James Trebble was born in 1926 to Arthur and Minnie of Woolacombe. The family lived at WaveCrest.

Richard along with his friends, Ray Easterbrook, Alf Yeo, Jeff Skinner and Jack Watts joined the Marine Cadets, which they attended in Ilfracombe each week.  Richard gained some publicity in the local press when he was awarded the Flight Lietenant, Michael Potier Memorial Prize:

“Woolacombe is proud of Cadet Richard Trebble on his being awarded the Flight-Lieut. Michael Potier Memorial Prize as the outstanding cadet of the year of Ilfracombe No. 722 Squadron the Air Training Corps. Mr. S, B. Tatton (head master of Ilfracombe Grammar School, to which the A.T.C. is attached said that Richard Trebble was a foundation member of the school Flight. He came in at the start and had proved himself to be one of the most loyal Cadets, having to make his attendance from Woolacombe. 

Despite travelling difficulties. Trebble had been most regular in attendance, had gained his proficiency certificate and had been promoted to the rank of sergeant. He was keen and cheerful lad, and had carried out his duties in a manner that was a credit to himself; he was great asset to the Flight. Having been accepted by the R.A.F. for aircrew duties, he was now awaiting his call-up. The prize was presented to Sergt. Trebble by the donor. Mr. O. E. Potior, who congratulated him on the success of his training and wished him the best of luck when he joined the R.A.F.”

Sadly only months later Air Gunner Richard Trebble was lost at sea on the last day of war, he had been officially reported missing during a routine flight. The Lancaster Bomber was on a local familiarisation flight lasting only 2.5 hours, the details of what happened are not known, however the seven airman on board were reported missing. Richard is believed to have been tragically lost at sea on his first flight on reconnaissance over the North Sea

In 1946 Mr & Mrs Trebble received an official communication from the Air Ministry “in view of the lapse of time and the absence of further information regarding your son Sergt. R. J. Trebble, since the date on which he was reported missing we very regretfully conclude that he lost his life and death has now been presumed for official purposes to have occurred on 30th October 1945. 

In 1946, the North Devon Journal contained a memorial to Richard: “Fond remembrance of Sergeant Air Gunner Richard James Trebble, Royal Air Force, who failed to return from a practice flight on the 30th October 1945.  In June 1948, a reredos, altar, altar cross and candlesticks were dedicated at St Sabinus Church, Woolacombe in memorial to the men of the parish who lost their lives during the second world war. The candlesticks were a memorial to Richard Trebble and Derek Worth.

Of interest, Richard’s brother Hugh also served during the war years, causing the family much distress and concern when they did not hear from him for some time, it was later learnt that he had been taken to a prisoner of war camp by the Japanese.

In 1944, they received the happiest news to start the new year, in the form of a postcard from their son, Hugh who had been serving in the RAF and had been taken a prisoner of war. Before serving, he had worked as a  reporter with the North Devon Herald, this postcard was the first written message that his parents had received from him.  It had been written a year previously. “My health is excellent, I am constantly thinking of you. It will be wonderful when we meet again. Good-bye, God Bless you. Don’t worry about me. I hope all is well. My love to all; keep smiling’ A further letter sent in 1945, was sent from a Bombay hospital:

“After reaching hospital he was delighted to find placed on his bed half a dozen copies of the Journal Herald! They provided much needed tonic after so long in a Japanese prisoner of war camp,” he stated “much to my surprise, in one of the editions I found that I was in the news, mention of the fact that I had been released from the Japanese. 

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