Warrant Officer Robert Lewis Francis
Death: April 23, 1944 in Dusseldorf, Germany
Service Number: R162649
Robert Lewis Francis lived with his parents James and Ann Francis on their farm at 960 No. 1 Road where Bob worked as a truck driver while attending W.E.T.P. (War Emergency Training Plan) taking Math, English and Science. Previously he had graduated from Richmond High School in 1939 with his junior matriculation, taken a commercial course in 1940 from Sprott-Shaw and worked as a storekeeper for Nelson Bros Fisheries and for BC Packers as a pilchard tallyman. Bob played lacrosse for the Steveston Tyees, among other teams, and he was nicknamed Horse. His religion was Anglican and among his hobbies were hunting, shooting, intense interest in lacrosse and a moderate interest in rugby.
On enlistment in the Royal Canadian Air Force Bob was sent initially to Edmonton and then to bases in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. He became an Air Bomber in January 1943, was posted overseas in March 1943 and was promoted to Warrant Officer in January 1944. In a letter of thanks for cigarettes to Councillor Thomas, Bob wrote about conditions in England. He talked about poor food, lack of transport and being machined-gunned by enemy fighters on low level attacks on English cities. He was involved in bombing raids over Berlin and described one such raid in a letter to his parents which was printed in the Richmond Review. He described the 'fireworks' of anti-aircraft guns over Berlin, the dropping of the 8000 lb block buster bomb and the return flight to England when their plane was attacked by three German aircraft. The plane arrived safely at base in England after nearly 8 hours at high altitudes with the crew using oxygen. On April 23, 1944 the Lancaster Aircraft # ND 753, which was stationed at Witchford, England was shot down over the target during night operations against Dusseldorf, Germany. Robert Lewis Francis, one Royal Australian Airforce officer and five RAF officers were killed. Warrant Officer Robert Francis was buried in the Military Cemetery at Dusseldorf, exhumed and reburied in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Kleve, Germany.
History of the Road Name (Francis Road):
- Francis Road has been in existence since at least 1902
- Francis Station became a stop on the Lulu Line in the 1930s (Henry Ewert "The Story of the BC Electric Railway")
- Francis Road is named for the James Henry Francis family who lived and farmed in the area
- James Henry Francis, wife Ann Jean and son Robert are listed on the 1921 Richmond census
- James Henry Francis, farmer, listed in the Steveston Directory of 1924, with an address of RR1. Later, in the 1938-39 directory, their address was 560 No. 1 Road. In that same year, Robert L. Francis (son) is listed at the same address. He was born January 19, 1920 and died in WWII in 1945.