Richard Stoodley

Richard Stoodley



Total raised so far£0.00

Total plus Gift Aid: £0.00


Raised offline: £0.00

My story

[p][b][u]IMPORTANT UPDATE: [/u][/b][/p][p][br][/p][p][b]DUE TO COVID RESTRICTIONS ON TRAVEL IN FRANCE AND STRICTER RULES AND 14 DAY SELF ISOLATION IN GERMANY AND CANCELLATION OF THE FERRY CROSSING ... I HAVE HAD NO OPTION BUT TO [u]POSTPONE MY TRIP UNTIL A LATER DATE. [/u][/b][/p][p]FULL DETAILS WILL BE POSTED HERE, BUT THE PAGE WILL REMAIN OPEN. [/p][p]I'M PERSONALLY GUTTED THAT I WILL NOT BE ABLE TO TRAVEL ON THE SAME DATE MY DAD DID, BUT IT IS THE RIGHT COURSE OF ACTION. [/p][p][br][/p][p]THE TRIP WILL STILL GO AHEAD. THANK YOU[/p][p][br][/p][p][br][/p][p][b]NORMANDY TO STALAG IVB – HISTORIC CYCLING RIDE[/b][/p][p][b] [/b][/p][p][b] [/b][/p][p][b]23:10 on 5th June 1944. [/b][/p][p]77 years ago, four Albemarle Aircraft took off from RAF Harwell near Didcot bound for Normandy.[/p][p][br][/p][p]Each of these planes carried ten Pathfinders of the 22nd Independent Parachute Company, not to the beaches of Normandy, but inland, behind enemy lines. [/p][p]Their mission was to secure the Drop Zones and deploy Eureka Radio Beacon and Landing Lights to guide in the main Paratrooper battalions from the 6th Airborne division – 8th Para – whose crucial job was to destroy bridges on the River Dives, east of Caen to protect the main D-Day invasion from the Eastern flank. [/p][p][br][/p][p]Jumping out with the other brave men at 00:20 on D-Day 6th June 1944, from just 500 ft was [b]my Dad[/b].[/p][p][b]Lance Corporal Robert ‘Bob’ Stoodley[/b].He was just 20 years old. [/p][p][br][/p][p]After successfully deploying his Eureka Beacon and after guiding in the Paratroopers who then moved on to their missions, an enemy armoured unit moved into the Drop Zone area.[/p][p][br][/p][p]It was crucial that the Eureka Beacon would not be captured and compromised by the enemy so, under orders, my Dad destroyed it, but in doing so gave up his own position where he was then mortared in a ditch, blown up and injured. [/p][p]He was captured and tied to the back of the armoured vehicle which was then fired at (and hit in the leg) by his own side not knowing my Dad was on it. The Tank driver turned the vehicle round to reverse out of the area under fire and my Dad believes this saved his life.[/p][p][br][/p][p]He was then interrogated by the Feldgendarmerie SS at a French Chateau and then sent to a POW Hospital in Rennes for treatment then transferred to the main Rennes POW camp still with injuries. [/p][p][br][/p][p]Shortly afterwards, along with about 650 other POWs, he was loaded on a Train, not knowing where he was going and transported in appalling, cramped and unsanitary conditions to Stalag IV-B – the biggest POW camp in Germany – just south of Berlin. We think this was one of two POW Trains from Rennes, this one on 5th July and the second left on Aug 3rd.[/p][p][br][/p][p]The trip took about 23 days and was perilous with the Train mainly moving at night and often being targeted and fired at (strafed) by allied forces thinking it was carrying supplies for the enemy, and many prisoners were unfortunately killed.[/p][p]These were not Train carriages as we know them, but wooden ‘Box Cars’ used to carry livestock with just straw on the floor and the only windows high up in the wall.[/p][p]In these filthy conditions with just a small amount of ‘black bread’ and dirty water to eat and drink and just one sanitary bucket between 40 men, the Train took whichever route was open and available (as many bridges and lines were being destroyed), to its final destination Stalag – IVB, Muhlberg.[/p][p]My Dad joined 30,000 other POWs at Stalag IVB for about 10 months.[/p][p]In May 1945 the Stalag was ‘liberated’ by the Russian Army, but POW’s remained incarcerated under a new but more relaxed control. My Dad with his friend, Paul Newton, who he had met (and who eventually became his best man), managed to 'escape' and eventually after stealing a motorcycle and trailer, and food from farmyards, finally made their way over the destroyed bridge over the River Elbe at Torgau into the security of the advancing allied forces. [/p][p][b] [/b][/p][p][b]FAST FORWARD TO 2021[/b][/p][p]77 years later, not on a train, [b]but on a Bike[/b], this summer, I am going to follow that route, as closely as possible and retrace my Dad’s POW journey in full.[/p][p][br][/p][p]Although my route will mainly be by road shadowing the Train lines, there are sections where the old railways are now just gravel paths and whenever I can I will aim to follow these tracks too. [/p][p]All in all the route will be about [b]1800 miles[/b] (2900 km) and I aim to carry this out over about 21 days averaging about [b]90 miles per day[/b].[/p][p] [/p][p][b]I am doing this Ride solo and unsupported.[/b][/p][p][br][/p][p]The 'exac't Train route is unknown as many detours would have been in place due to destroyed lines and bridges, but with my Dad's 97 year old memory, Google Satellite Maps and the help of an American historian Jo Shipley (whose Uncle, a captured B52 Gunne,r was on the 2nd Train out of Rennes) and her research, I have planned a route that will take in as much of the route as possible even though some can only be the best estimation. [/p][p][br][/p][p]I am doing this for myself and my Dad who is still with us and has just turned 97 in May and is the only remaining British Pathfinder.[/p][p][br][/p][p]This trip will get great exposure for our Veterans and education and reminders about the War, and I aim to promote it daily via Instagram and Facebook and also it will be covered by my Hill Climb sponsor TRUESAPIEN and apparel sponsor, PARIA [/p][p][br][/p][p]I hope that this trip will help educate and remind others of just what these brave men and women did for us all those years ago and maybe help make people appreciate and reflect on how lucky we all are today. [/p][p][br][/p][p]The trip is about retracing and remembering my Dad's story as well as a tribute to the man who gave the ultimate sacrifice who we must never forget. Serving Forces and civilians, and from both sides of this terrible conflict. [/p][p][br][/p][p]Even though the trip is about 'the Story', I have decided to use every pedal stroke over these 1800 miles to raise funds for [b]Support Our Paras[/b] because of my Dad's obvious link. [/p][p][br][/p][p]Although its not about a specific target, or a total, but if you like the time and effort I am putting in and you enjoy the story and the updates, and just wish to show your support, then I will be thrilled to accept a donation for this worthy and directly related cause, and you can read about the work of [b]Support Our Paras[/b] below. Thank you. [/p][p][br][/p][p]The Story and progress will unfold on Instagram @Rapid_Rich and also on Facebook and Twitter.[/p][p]Thank you for your time.[/p][p][br][/p][p]Richard Stoodley[/p][p][b]‘Rapid Rich’[/b][/p][p][br][/p][p][br][/p][p][b]SUPPORT OUR PARAS[/b][/p][p][br][/p][p][b]SUPPORT OUR PARAS[/b] is a charity which supports The Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces through the welfare of veterans, serving soldiers and their families and through the maintenance of its regimental efficiency, ethos, spirit and heritage.[/p][p]We provide welfare assistance to veterans, serving soldiers and families to complement or fill the gaps in State provision, as well as supporting vital aspects of the Regiment’s daily life and history. This support includes funding:[/p][p]Mobility equipment and adaptations[/p][p]Mental Health Support[/p][p]Employment and Training[/p][p]Hardship[/p][p]Funerals[/p][p]Household Goods[/p][p]Sporting equipment for wounded and Regimental teams[/p][p]Adventure Training for serving troops[/p][p]Assistance with travel and other costs on compassionate grounds[/p][p]Memorials to those who have served[/p][p][i]SUPPORT OUR PARAS is the trading name of The Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces Charity, registered as Charity No 1131977 and at Companies House No 07005997[/i][/p]
1800 mile BIKE RIDE -NORMANDY to STALAG IVB image 1
1800 mile BIKE RIDE -NORMANDY to STALAG IVB image 2
1800 mile BIKE RIDE -NORMANDY to STALAG IVB image 3
1800 mile BIKE RIDE -NORMANDY to STALAG IVB image 4
1800 mile BIKE RIDE -NORMANDY to STALAG IVB image 5
1800 mile BIKE RIDE -NORMANDY to STALAG IVB image 6

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Personal Challenge Date

05 Jun 2021


May 26, 2021



May 26, 2021

Mike R NCC


plus £2.50 Gift Aid

May 26, 2021

Rick M


plus £7.50 Gift Aid

May 26, 2021

J little

All the best


plus £2.50 Gift Aid

May 23, 2021

Arnie Coulthurst

My godfather (Arnie Hutchinson) served in the paras and was part of the D-Day invasion. He survived and came safe home. Sadly he did not survive Covid and died a few months ago.

May 14, 2021


please keep a full diary for prosperity


plus £25.00 Gift Aid

May 11, 2021

James Light

Good luck Richard, Utrinque Paratus!


plus £3.75 Gift Aid

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