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 Roger Adcock (JRGS 1963-68) finds a link to Reginald Tomsett (JRCS 1932-36)...

The recent post from Duncan Smith (JRGS 1957-63) regarding his rich and varied career made interesting reading and forms an unexpected connection with a former pupil who, in 1942, bravely served in the most extraordinary raid on the German U-boat pens. Duncan calling Lord Newborough "an arrogant tosser" made me smile, so I thought I'd look up who he was, and discovered Michael Wynn, 7th Baron Newborough (1917-1988). On further investigation via Wikipedia, I learned that Wynn served as a Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve from 1941 to 1946 and played a decisive role during the St. Nazaire Raid in 1942 - aka Operation Chariot - while commanding a motor torpedo boat. Captured by the Germans after his boat had to be abandoned, Wynn was sent to Colditz following an escape attempt; he was eventually repatriated after feigning illness. He won a Distinguished Service Cross for his actions commanding MTB 74, which was towed behind HMS Campbeltown to St Nazaire and subsequently torpedoed the secondary target of dock gates.
   By coincidence, this event triggered a memory of some research I did several years ago about the close to 70 JRGS students who died in World War Two, and listed in "Pro Patria" from the 1947 School Magazine shown below left; click on thumbnail to view a larger version. I wrote a news item on the subject back in February 2003.

JRGS Pro Patria - 1947

JRGS War Memorial

   If you cast your eye down the ranks of RAF lads who served and died, you'll come to the entry for "R Tomsett 1932-36 Commando." Reginald Maurice Tomsett (JRCS 1932-36) was in No 2 Commando and was killed on Saturday, 23 March, 1942, aboard Motor Launch 192, having disembarked HMS Campbeltown as part of the dock assault force. I believe Reginald died aboard ML 192, since the crew and those aboard were all killed before reaching the target on the first-wave assault. A member of 11th (First Battalion Queen's Westminsters) Battalion Kings Royal Rifle Corps, he is buried in CWGC Escoublac-la-Baule, which is 13 km west of St Nazaire, and remembered on The Commando website and here.
   Croydon created a book entitled "Croydon and The Second World War" on ancestry.co.uk, which requires a sign-on. This site records Reginald as a corporal in No 2 Commando, and born in Finchley, North London, on 10th Sept, 1920. He lived at 68 Shirley Way in Shirley, Croydon and, as we know, attended John Ruskin School. He served in Norway with special service troops and on St Nazaire Raid.
   Shown above right is an image of the Memorial Plaque that used to hang on the school hall's west wall at the Upper Shirley Road school site, to the left of the school organ, and which currently can be seen on display in the foyer of the JR Sixth Form College. [More]
   Finally, here is the main page in the Croydon Roll of Honour that mentions Reginald, and a close-up that entry. Click on either thumbnail to view a larger version.

Croydon Roll of Honour - Reginald Thomsett

Croydon Roll of Honour - Reginald Thomsett

   I am scheduled for a St Nazaire visit next year - God willing! - and will visit Reginald Tomsett's grave. I have no connection other than the fact that he was in the school intake a year ahead of my father, Brian Adcock (JRCS 1932-37) who, like so many JRCS boys, went on to serve in the RAF during WW2. I am sure that my father would have known of Reginald.
   It is interesting how that story loops back to Duncan Smith working on a estate in Wales!

Roger Adcock, Oxted, Surrey, November 2018 Email.

Duncan Smith (JRGS 1957-63) adds: I did know about Lord Newborough being a hero; it was well-known locally. I was told that he had a steel plate in his head after being injured during the war. During peacetime, he nearly cut off us own leg whilst using a chainsaw on his estate, and then drove himself to a hospital to have it sewn back on again! A tough guy, alright.
   However, to his farm staff, he was absolutely awful. He farmed vast areas of North Wales and I was told afterwards that in just two years 120 of his staff left as they couldn't stand his arrogance and brutish manner. I lasted seven months! When he first picked me up from Wrexham railway station to drive the hour back to his estate, he told me that I had to call him "M'Lord and doff my cap every time he saw me!" I said "No" to that one and that this was the 20th Century and not the 14th. I don't think that went down well!
   I worked on one of Lord Newborough's highland farms near Corwen in North Wales. There was just me and the manager, a lovely gentle Scottish guy, very experienced in farming. We look after 1,200 sheep and 150 cattle on a 2,000 acre farm. Newborough would occasionally drive around in his Landrover, with his foreman, to check things out. Previous to one of his visits the manager and I had got stuck in mud whilst driving through a gateway from one field to another. We did eventually get out after a struggle.
   Lord Newborough turns up for his usual visit and we advised him that he shouldn't try to drive through this gateway as he would get stuck. "Nonsense" was his reply, "I've got a Landrover." And off he shot. Lunchtime came and we were home, having been up since 3 in the morning with lambing, and having our food when there was a knock on our door. Opening it was very flustered, sweaty, red-faced foreman saying "Come immediately and bring your tractor and rope as Lord Newborough has got stuck in the mud at that gateway! We said, "We'll be there after we've had our lunch". The foreman replied "But you have to come immediately." We said "No, sorry, we told Lord Newborough not to try and drive through there and it's his own fault. We'll be there when we've finished!"
   When we'd arrived he was very cross, but we stayed calm. He'd "bottomed" the Landrover and dug himself well in. Those two fields were on a very steep slope and Newborough told me to drive around the field to get to the other field and pull him UPHILL to get him out! I said it would be better to pull him DOWNHILL - it would be a lot safer and easier. (We didn't have a safety cab or roll bars on this tractor, and it would be dangerous to do what he suggested). He got cross and said that I should do as he told me. So, around I went, hitched up the rope and began to try and pull out his grounded Landrover. I gently took up the strain on the rope and immediately the front of this small tractor lifted up under the strain and threatened to come right over and flatten me.
   I stopped and jumped off. The foreman was told to do it instead as I was "incompetent," according to Newborough. So he jumped on but came off very quickly with an ashen face when the same thing happened to him. Too dangerous. Later, a huge tractor was brought up from the lowland farm and eventually the Landrover was extracted.
   There are other horror, inhumane stories about this man, but I'll save those until another time, perhaps.
   I just remembered that my uncle, Max Heinrich Eggert was a pupil at Ruskin in the Twenties. He was born in 1908, so would have been at Ruskin between 1920 and 1926, I would think. He was an engineer. His son, Max Augustine Eggert, went to John Newnham School but left to attend the sixth form at John Ruskin around 1963 to 1964, I believe. He then went on to study theology at King's College, London; psychology at Birkbeck College, London; his MA at the University of Westminster and finally, clinical hypnosis at Sheffield University. He was the author of over 20 books on management, served as a chief psychologist at Transcareer in Australia and was an Anglican priest. He lived at Bondi Beach in Sydney for many years and then retired to a small farm 80 miles from there. Sadly, he was killed in May 2016 when he was gored by a bull he'd raised from a calf.

Cliff Preddy (JRGS 1963-65), who also transferred from John Newnham School for A Levels, adds: Max Augustine shows up in the speech-day documents on The Mill web site as having done A-Levels in 1962, with passes in Geography and Geology. Since I did mine in 1965, he was several years ahead of me.


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