Bomber pilots memoirs brought back to life

By Elinor Florence


LANCASTER LEO  The fascinating war time memoirs of past Windermere resident Leo Richer are now available in a newly recreated book available both in paperback and online. Photo submitted
LANCASTER LEO The fascinating war time memoirs of past Windermere resident Leo Richer are now available in a newly recreated book available both in paperback and online. Photo submitted

Seventy-five years ago, on September 10th, 1939, Canada declared war against the Third Reich, so its fitting that a book of memoirs written in 1998 by a local veteran is now available for purchase once again.

Leo Richer of Windermere, who passed away in 2000, wrote and self-published his 76-page book of memoirs called I Flew the Lancaster Bomber two years before his death. It was printed and bound by Palliser Printing in Invermere, and all the copies were snapped up by family and friends.

Last year, his son Roger Richer, a lawyer who lives in Vancouver but still visits the valley frequently, decided to have the book reissued.

Since the original files were gone, Shawn Wernig of Eggplant Studios in Invermere was hired to recreate the book. He took a printed copy and broke it apart, then scanned each page separately so that it is now available for purchase both in print and digital format.

The book describes not only Leos wartime experiences, but his later life. After the war, he started a water taxi business in Windermere with his sister Edmae, a former Wren (member of the Womens Royal Canadian Naval Service). He named his water taxi R-Roger after the Lancaster.

In 1947, he married Winnifred Foster of London, Ontario, who had served in the Wrens with Edmae. They eventually purchased the general store and post office in the village of Windermere. Leo was also a well-known local musician who played in various bands all his life.

Both Leo and Winnifred are deceased. They had two children: Roger is now a successful lawyer in Vancouver, and daughter Sherry is a retired teacher in Ontario.

Seventy-five years later, there is still keen interest in the Lancaster bomber, since there are only four Lancasters with operating engines still in existence. One of them is in Hamilton, Ontario, and it is still flying. The other is in Nanton, Alberta at the Bomber Command Museum, and you can visit it there and experience the thrill of seeing and hearing all four mighty Merlin engines running.To order a printed copy of the book I Flew the Lancaster Bomber, visit The paperback costs $7.30.

You can also download the digital version for just 99 cents from several sources including ibooks and And if you want a sneak preview of what the book contains, in my weekly blog called Wartime Wednesdays I describe a hair-raising incident experienced by the young bomber pilot as he was flying over Germany on a thousand-bomber raid. To read the story, visit www.columbiavalleypioneer and click on the Wartime Wednesdays link on the left side of the page.

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