Continued from previous post, RAF and USAAF, Allies in the World War II Air War, and previous post, The RAF Heavy Bomber Crew in World War II
Recap: During my father’s (George Edwin Farrar, waist gunner of the 384th Bomb Group during WWII) confinement as a prisoner of war in Stalag Luft IV, he had a British roommate in the POW camp named Lawrence Newbold. Dad and Lawrence were also companions on the 86-day, 500-mile march of POW’s across Germany from 6 February 1945 to their liberation on 2 May 1945.
Lawrence Newbold, an enlistee in the British Royal Air Force (RAF), served as a wireless operator on an Avro Lancaster heavy bomber with the 50 Squadron based at Skelllingthorpe, England in the East Midlands.
Because of this personal connection my father had to a member of the RAF, I will, in a series of posts, take a look at an overview of the RAF in World War II, the Avro Lancaster heavy bomber that Lawrence Newbold flew in, and the mission on which he became a prisoner of war.
While serving in the 50 Squadron, Lawrence Edgar Newbold participated in his sixth mission over Germany overnight on the night of 18/19 March 1944, with the RAF crew of,
- P/O. W.J.K. Miller, Pilot
- Sgt. C.W.T. Case, Flight Engineer
- F/S. H.J. Rouse, Navigator
- Sgt. J.R. Ellis, Bomb Aimer
- Sgt. L.E. Newbold, Wireless Operator
- Sgt. G.T. Howe, Air Gunner
- Sgt. E.C. Lehman, Air Gunner
According to “The U.K. National Archives Operations Record Book for the No. 50 Squadron for the month of March 1944,” (c) crown copyright, Catalogue Reference: AIR/27/488, Image Reference: 6, the entry for Place: Skellingthorpe, Date: 18.3.44 [March 18, 1944], notes this “Summary of Events: Bombing Attack on Frankfurt [Germany]”:
Eighteen aircraft were detailed to attack FRANKFURT. Unfortunately of this number, one (P/O. Miller) failed to return, and yet another (F/O. Botha) returned early, owing to the failure of starboard outer engine. The remainder proceeded to attack the target. 4/10th cloud at 6-8,000′ prevailed. Target identified by red T.I’s. Markers appeared scattered resulting in a lack of concentration in bombing. A large explosion was seen at 22.17 hours. The effort was considered poor. (18 x 4000 lb., 1614 x 30 lb inc., 22,950 x 4 lb inc., 1142 x 4 lb XIB inc).
The 50 Squadron participated in three previous bombing attacks that month,
- 1.3.44 [1 March 1944] to Stuttgart, Germany
- 9.3.44 [9 March 1944] to Marseilles/Marignane, France
- 15.3.44 [15 March 1944] on a return visit to Stuttgart, Germany
and five more that month following the mission on which the Miller crew was declared missing,
- 22.3.44 [22 March 1944] on a return visit to Frankfurt, Germany
- 24.3.44 [24 March 1944] to Berlin, Germany
- 25.3.44 [25 March 1944] to Aulnoye, France
- 26.3.44 [26 March 1944] to Essen, Germany
- 30.3.44 [30 March 1944] to Nurnberg, Germany
On the 19.3.44 [March 19, 1944] mission to Frankfurt, the W.J.K. Miller crew was noted as “to War Cas. [Casualty] Depot. (N.E. Missing).”
The Miller crew’s Bomb Aimer, Sgt. J.R. Ellis (A.B.), was John Robert Ellis. Ellis attended The King’s (The Cathedral) School in Peterborough, UK as a boy. In 1949, the school dedicated a memorial to all of the former students of the school who lost their lives during World War II and Ellis was memorialized on it.
Many years later, in November 2015, The King’s (The Cathedral) School in Peterborough, United Kingdom published a booklet called “The King’s (The Cathedral) School Peterborough War Memorials” © 2014 Jane King.
In the forward, Jane King writes,
The memorials that hang in the school’s library and within St Sprite’s Chapel at Peterborough Cathedral record the names of former pupils and staff of The King’s School, Peterborough known to have died in the service of their country in the course of the First and Second World Wars. This booklet has been written in honour of every Old Petriburgian, known or unknown, who made that ultimate sacrifice. The details have been compiled from a variety of sources, including records held by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the General Register Office and The National Archives. Some information has also been extracted from contemporary local newspapers held by the relevant Library and Archives Sections, and from other publications. Many details are from The King’s School’s own archives, including photographs and information kindly given to the school by relatives of those who died.
The school’s memorial booklet, which includes memorials and biographies from their losses in both WWI and WWII, includes the story of the 18/19 March 1944 mission on which Ellis lost his life and crewmate Lawrence Newbold became a prisoner of war.
The section of World War II memorials begins on page 39. It notes that the WWII memorial, a wooden plaque crafted from English oak, to “The King’s School old boys who died in World War 2 was unveiled in the school library in a ceremony which took place on the evening of Thursday 14th July 1949.”
The inscription of the memorial in the school library read “SCHOLA REGIA PETRIBURGENSIS To the Glory of God and in remembrance of the old boys of the King’s School Peterborough who gave their lives for their country in the Second World War,” and included the names of the school’s WWII twenty-nine dead, including J.R. ELLIS.
The King’s School memorial that hangs in Peterborough Cathedral was unveiled a year later, on 10th October 1950, includes one additional name, for a total of thirty boys from the same school lost in WWII.
The biography of former student John Robert Ellis of the Miller crew begins on page 50.
John Robert Ellis was born in Peterborough on 28/2/1922 [February 28, 1922], the eldest son of Frank Joe and Lillian Mantle Ellis. He graduated from The King’s School in 1939 and became a journalist, but later worked for the Income Tax Collection Department. He married Betty May Jellings in 1942, in the Battersea District and their son was born later that year.
On the same page, the document relates the events of the 18/19 March 1944 mission on which Ellis lost his life and crewmate Lawrence Newbold became a prisoner of war.
(On the evening of 18th March 1944, 846 aircraft from Bomber Command, comprising 620 Lancasters, 209 Halifaxes and 17 Mosquitoes, took off for their target of Frankfurt. Twenty two of those aircraft were lost during the operation. (The Bomber Command War Diaries, An Operational reference Book 1939-1945, by Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt, has more details). Avro Lancaster I serial number ED308 VN-J was one of the aircraft which took part in that operation).
Lancaster serial number ED308 VN-J took off from Skellingthorpe at 19:15 hours on 18/3/1944 [March 18, 1944]. The crew comprised Pilot Officer W.J.K Miller, Sergeant C.W.T. Case, Flight Sergeant H.J. Rouse, Sergeant J.R. Ellis, Sergeant L.E. Newbold, Sergeant G.T. Howe and Sergeant E.C. Lehman RCAF. According to the research of Hans L. Grimminger, it was shot down by a night-fighter and crashed at 22:20 hours (German time) at Gross Gerau, NW-Darmstadt, Hessen in Germany.
John Robert Ellis, George Tennant Howe and Edgar Clarence Lehman all died on 19/3/1944 [March 19, 1944]. They were originally buried at Gross Gerau. After the War they were reinterred in Durnbach War Cemetery in Germany, where they now rest in adjoining graves. The remaining members of the crew survived the crash and became Prisoners of War. Pilot Officer W.J.K. Miller (service number 54175), Flight Sergeant C.W.T Case (service number 1819583), and Flight Sergeant H.J. Rouse (service number 1317908) were all held at Stalag Luft 1 West in Barth Vogelsang in Germany. Flight Sergeant L.E. Newbold (service number 157628) was held at Stalag Luft 4 in Sagan and Polaria, Poland.
John is buried in grave 1.H.16 at the Durnbach War Cemetery. (Edgar Lehman is in grave I.H.14. George Howe is in grave I.H.15). On 7/4/1944 [April 7, 1944] the Peterborough Standard reported him as missing. He is named in the Book of Remembrance at Peterborough Cathedral and on the Wentworth Street Methodist Church War Memorial (which was removed to Westgate Chapel and rededicated in November 1984).
According to Lawrence Newbold’s story as passed down to family, when the Miller crew’s bomber was shot down, Lawrence bailed out. He landed in a tree, and once he had freed himself from his parachute and the tree, he walked a while to a farm and gave himself up to the Germans.
Recalling his time as a prisoner of war, Lawrence talked of being crammed into railway wagons. His story was once in a book (either he kept a diary during his POW time or wrote about it later), but unfortunately his book of wartime memories cannot be located.
I do hope to hear more of Lawrence Newbold’s stories of the war from Newbold family members and plan to write more about them and Lawrence’s pre- and post-war life in a future article.
Thank you to Lawrence Newbold’s son Stephen Newbold, Stephen’s wife Margaret, and Stephen’s son Paul for providing information regarding Lawrence Newbold’s service in WWII.
Previous post, Laurie Newbold
“The King’s (The Cathedral) School Peterborough War Memorials” © 2014 Jane King November 2015
The King’s (The Cathedral) School, Peterborough at Park Rd, Peterborough PE1 2UE, United Kingdom
Royal Air Force Acronyms/Abbreviations
“The Bomber Command War Diaries, An Operational reference Book 1939-1945” by Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt can be found on multiple used book sites
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2022