SBD Dauntless dive bomber
SBD Dauntless
Snowy Egret
Snowy Egret
SB2C Helldiver
Black Skimmers
Black Skimmers
Dive Bombers and Other Birds

Four Years 
of an 
Ornithological Naval Dive Bomber Pilot 
During World War II

         Tudor Richards, USNR

TR in summer uniform

Tudor Richards was born in Groton, Massachusetts, in 1915. He graduated from Groton School, where his father was a teacher, in 1934. At Harvard College he was a member of the Class of 1938 and of the track team. He was a member of the Class of 1940 at the Yale School of Forestry, and was enrolled in a Masters program in forestry at the University of Michigan when the oncoming world war prompted a change of plans.

This website presents the letters TR wrote (mostly to his parents) during his World War II service, and the memoir he wrote shortly after the war. Each of the documents is presented in two forms:

  • a PDF scan, which is a photograph of the pages in TR’s handwriting.
  • a transcription*, which is a conversion of TR’s handwriting into ordinary text. The transcription process is not yet finished.
TR in dark uniform

The Memoir

TR’s postwar acount of his wartime years, from enlistment and basic training through his combat missions, is here. This website’s title—“Dive Bombers and other Birds”—is actually the title TR chose for his memoir.

The Letters

1941–42  TR enlists in US Navy. Ground school at Atlanta and Jacksonville, flight training (including dive bombing) at Jacksonville and Miami. Social life, exploration of local countryside.

1943  Flight training continues, includes carrier landings and instrument flying. Bicycle trips, observations of local flora and fauna (especially avifauna).

1944  Flight training continues. TR transfers from Florida to California, and then to Hawaii.

1945  TR joins USS Hornet (CV–12). Combat missions, including attack on Japanese battleship Yamato.

Other documents

Various papers in addition to the memoir and letters are here.

After the War

In 1945 TR resumed his career as a naturalist. His contributions and achievements are described in the citation for the Lifetime Achievement Environmental Merit Award bestowed on him in 2007 by the US Environmental Protection Agency:

Tudor Richards’s career as an ardent advocate on behalf of New Hampshire’s environment stretches back to his arrival in the state in 1946, and includes an impressive array of accomplishments throughout the subsequent sixty years. In 1948, he began a long association with New Hampshire Audubon that remains strong to this day. As a newcomer, his leadership skills were not overlooked, and he was elected Vice President for five years before assuming the position of President, which he would keep for another fifteen years. Under his leadership the organization would come to purchase the 6,000 acres of land, which is now known as the Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge of the Silvio Conte National Wildlife Refuge. He played a key role in pushing many legislative actions through, such as the New Hampshire Birds of Prey law, the creation of the Loon Preservation Committee, and the passage of the endangered species program, to name a few. Tudor’s love for birds has also shown throughout some of his work. He has updated and helped publish several seminal and historically important ornithological works including Charles F. Goodhue’s manuscript, Fifty Years among the Birds of New Hampshire. To this day, Tudor has maintained his love and interest for the environment around him, and kept up his keen interest in birds of the White Mountains. He has been instrumental in recording some of the first breeding records of several species in northern New Hampshire. Amid his many accomplishments, Tudor has been an inspiration to countless birders and naturalists in New Hampshire, across New England and throughout the United States.

After TR died in 2009 at the age of 94, his life was celebrated in a number of remembrances:

Concord Monitor obituary.

Caledonian Record obituary.

New Hampshire Bird Records article.

USS Hornet Association condolence card.

His younger brother’s tribute.