Richard Collinson: 1921-2012
(image courtesy of Scott VanOsdol)
I received the very sad news, just this morning, that my friend Richard had passed away. A source of inspiration over many years, his contribution to the expanding story of Operation CHARIOT has provided us all with a legacy of invaluable information, particularly relating to the structure and operation of PoW Camp Marlag und Milag Nord.
As a Sub-Lieutenant, RNVR, Richard acted as Third Officer on board Motor Launch 192, whose captain was Lieutenant-Commander 'Billie' Stephens. This vessel, lead ML in the starboard column of the formation attacking through the Loire Estuary, and carrying the Commando party of Captain Michael Burn, was hit early on and struck the Old Mole before being consumed by fire. Richard was one of a handful of men to swim to the Mole and take shelter within its lighthouse. His party were taken prisoner and held for a time within the massive U-Boat shelter, which Richard described as being like something out of 'The Guns of Navarone'.
Later incarcerated in the Naval PoW camp at Marlag, Richard retained an encyclopaedic memory of that period which, later written down in impressive detail, was made available to both myself, for my first book, and to the broader St Nazaire Society.
Richard - thanks for everything: you will be missed.