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
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
Croydon created a book entitled "Croydon and The Second World War"
on ancestry.co.uk, which requires a
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.
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.
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
It is interesting how that story loops back to Duncan Smith working
on a estate in Wales!
Roger Adcock, Oxted, Surrey, November 2018
(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
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
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.
(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.