Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1942, Squadron Leader Richard Frederick Cyprian Markham, 36 Squadron, Royal Air Force, was killed when his aircraft was shot down by Japanese fighter pilots.
The eldest son of the Rector of Etchingham in East Sussex, he was educated at Lancing College where he had joined the Officers’ Training Corps. After completing his studies at Oriel College, Oxford, he took up the appointment of preparatory school master at Hassocks in Sussex. In 1924 he moved to Malaya to work for the Educational Service of the Malay government as Assistant Inspector of Schools before moving to Singapore and working for the Straits Settlement Times.
Squadron Leader Markham joined the Straits Settlements Volunteer Force and learned to fly, achieving the rank of Pilot Officer in March of 1937. At the outbreak of the war in Europe, that force was disbanded and personnel were taken into the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. In December of 1941 Squadron Leader Markham took command of 36 Squadron as they defended Singapore and Malaya against the Japanese who were invading from the north.
On the day of his death, Squadron Leader Markham led bombers from three different squadrons to attack Japanese transports and landing crafts at Endau on the east coast of Malaya. Due to an error in communication, they reached the target without their fighter escort. He attempted to attack the Japanese transport, but was attacked by Japanese fighters and crashed into the sea.
Squadron Leader Markham is remembered on the Singapore Memorial in the Kranji War Cemetery. Major General Arthur Percival wrote: “Throughout the later stages of the Malayan campaign, they went unflinchingly to almost certain death in obsolete aircraft which should have been replaced many years before"
Richard, from Horncastle in Lincolnshire, was 40 years old and married.