The Battle of France or the Fall of France refers to the invasion of neutral Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg and the northern part of France. It led to the evacuation of the British troops from Dunkirk and an armistice between France and Germany. The Germans decided to attack France through the Ardennes, to avoid the formidable fortifications of the Maginot Line protecting France's frontier with Germany. The invasion began on 10th May 1940.
On 14th June 1940, Paris was occupied and France officially surrendered to Germany on 24th June 1940. From then on, the northern half of France controlled by the Germans and the southern part of France or ‘Zone libre’ was under the leadership of General Philippe Pétain and the Vichy government. German warships were based in French harbours along the Atlantic coast and they were targeted by British planes and ships. French troops had left to fight with the Allies in other theatres of the war.
After the Normandy landings on 6th June 1944, Caen was liberated on 9th July. On 15th August 1944, the Allies landed in Provence. Paris was liberated on 25th August 1944, Dijon on 12th September and Strasbourg on 24th November.
France would then join the Allies until the end of the war.
Alaric was the son of Ernest and Gertrude Appleby.
Alaric attended Oakham School between 1930 and 1932. He was in Greylands House. His school achievements are listed below:
After Oakham and the War
After school, Alaric married Eunice Grace of East Haddon, Northamptonshire. Alaric was a Sergeant (Wireless Operator) in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 217 Squadron.
On 25th July 1941, six Bristol Beauforts of 217 Squadron took off at 5:30am from RAF St Eval in Cornwall. Their target was the German battleship Scharnhorst which was in the Bay of Biscay escorted by six destroyers. The weather quickly worsened providing cover but the force became separated and only one Beaufort found the target, Beaufort I AW238. However, the cloud was so thick that the crew only saw the target when they were directly above it. They had no time to drop the mine and had to go round again. Whilst attempting a second run the lone Beaufort ran out of cloud cover and met a storm of flak. The aircraft was hit several times and crashed. The pilot, Squadron Leader Les Collings, was wounded and Pilot Officer Jim Hunter, navigator, and the Air Gunner Sergeant Ted Taylor suffered minor injuries and all three became prisoners of war. Sergeant ‘Pip’ Appleby, was killed. He was 25.
Roll of honour in the Oakhamian Magazine, Winter term 1941, Vol.56.
Alaric is remembered on panel 38 on the Runnymede memorial.
John was the son of Charles Evelyn and Doris Blake of 34, Magdala Road, Nottingham. He was born in Leicestershire. Charles Evelyn was the manager of Barclays Bank in Nottingham.
John attended Oakham School between 1929 and 1932. He was in Greylands and then moved to Junior House. His school achievements are listed below:
After school, John was also educated at Wellingborough and Cheltenham. He was a Cadet Corporal in Cheltenham College Contingent. He worked as articled to Messrs J. and A. Bright, solicitors. In 1938, he passed the intermediate examination in law. He was a member of Beeston Fields Golf Club and Nottinghamshire Amateur Cricket Club. John went to RAF Cranwell. He was commissioned Second Lieutenant on 27th May 1939. He served as Lieutenant with III Corps Signals, Royal Corps of Signals.
The III Corps Signals badge.
His regiment served in the Battle of France in 1940. John was reported missing and confirmed dead on 19th May 1940. He was 20.
He is buried in grave 4.A.27 at Pont-de-Metz Churchyard, Somme, France.
Lieutenant David Crichton (left).
David was the son of David S. Crichton and Edna Annie Crichton of York. His mother was the first woman to serve as Lord Mayor of York between 1941 and 1942.
He went to study at St John’s College, Oxford, Edinburgh University and Carnegie College of Physical Education, Leeds.
David was P.T. teacher at Oakham School from the Winter term 1936 to Summer term 1939. Incidentally, he was appointed as Physical Training teacher just as the new Gymnasium was completed. he joined the Scouts as Instructor in the Summer term 1937, then the O.T.C. contingent as their new N.C.O. in the Winter term 1937. On 8th March 1938, he attended a Tactical Exercise Without Troops for officers with the 5th Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment. At the 1938 O.T.C. Camp at Tidworth Pennings, he acted a Battalion Adjutant in the field.
Lieutenant David Crichton (second from right).
Alongside his teaching career, David played in the Anglo-Scots and Final Scottish trials at Hockey in 1937 and was playing for Lincolnshire. He was gazetted Second Lieutenant in the Gordon Highlanders in 1937. He regularly featured in the Masters' Cricket team against the School's 1st XI every summer and was a member of Oakham Cricket Club as well.
Summer term 1939: “We are sorry to hear that Mr Crichton is leaving us at the end of this term. He has been a great help with the O.T.C. and we shall miss the Gordon kilt on our parades.”
David was due to leave Oakham School for a new position at Manchester University at the end of the Summer term 1939 but the war broke out.
When the war broke out, David joined the 1st Battalion, Gordon Highlanders as Lieutenant and was sent to France with the B.E.F.
The Gordon Highlanders badge. © IWM INS 7227
His battalion fought at St Valery-En-Caux, Normandy in June 1940. Both the 1st and 2nd Battalions, Highlanders were captured.
Oakhamian Magazine, Winter term 1940, Vol.55, p.14.
David died of cancer in a military hospital in Friesburg, Germany as a Prisoner of war on 29th August 1941. He was 34.
Roll of honour in the Oakhamian Magazine, Winter term 1941, Vol.56, p.2.
He is buried at Durnbach War Cemetery, Bad Tolz, Bayern, Germany in grave 3.C.17.
Peter was the son of Harold and Doris Dodson.
Peter attended Oakham School between 1930 and 1935. He was in Misses Daniels’, Junior House and then moved to School House. His school achievements are listed below:
After Oakham and the War
After school, Peter married Eileen Gladwin of Chilwell, Nottinghamshire. He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 613 Squadron. He was promoted to Flight Officer on 24th October 1942. Peter flew his Mosquito MK.VI from Cambrai-Epinoy on a night patrol on 17th January 1945. He and Flight Sergeant Thomas Harold Summers died in the crash on take-off. Peter was 24.
Roll of honour in the Oakhamian Magazine, Summer term 1945, Vol.59.
He is buried in grave 2.B.7 at Cambrai Communal Cemetery, France.
Maurice was the son of Sidney John Ennion and Isabel Maud Catchpole of Newmarket, Suffolk.
Maurice attended Oakham School between 1934 and 1938. He was in School House. His school achievements are listed below:
After school, Maurice became a Sergeant in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 77 Squadron. The Squadron was loaned to the Coastal Command in May 1942 and based at RAF Chivenor, Devon. During an anti-submarine patrol over the Bay of Biscay, Maurice was flying in Armstrong Whitworth Whitley V, Z9477, as Observer. The aircraft was reported attacking a U boat and was never heard from again. All six of the crew were declared dead.
Roll of honour in the Oakhamian Magazine, Summer term 1943, Vol.58.
Maurice is remembered on panel 82 of Runnymede Memorial.
John was the son of Arthur Newbold and Catherine Fletcher of Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire.
John attended Oakham School between 1932 and 1935. He was in School House and he was a house prefect. His school achievements are listed below:
Oakham School Rugby 1st XV, 1935 - John is sat second from the right.
The Oakhamian Magazine commented upon his rugby prowess.
Winter 1934 Rugby review: ‘A wing forward with plenty of dash but not great anticipation; defence much improved.’
Winter 1935 Rugby review: ‘An excellent and hardworking wing forward with a good tackle; falls well but inclined to hold the ball too long; very quick up in defence; liable to get offside.’
After school, John enlisted in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in July 1939 as an Airman. He joined 3 Squadron in August 1940. He was commissioned Flight Lieutenant in January 1941 and had postings with 1 Squadron, 3 Squadron, 258 Squadron at Debden in October 1941 and 91 Squadron on November 1941. John was lost on a shipping reconnaissance off the French coast on 8th February 1942, flying a Spitfire Vb W3132. He body was washed ashore. He was 23.
Roll of honour in the Oakhamian Magazine, Summer term 1942, Vol.57.
He is buried in grave A.5 at Middelkerke Communal Cemetery, Belgium.
Michael was the son of George Arthur Newling and Dorothy Newling, née Cranston. He was born in Barnes, Surrey. He was the eldest of six children, and had one brother and four sisters.
Michael attended Oakham School between 1933 and 1937. He was in Wharflands. His school achievements are listed below:
Oakham School Rugby 1st XV, 1936 - Michael is standing third from left.
Oakham School Rugby 1st XV, 1937 - Michael is sat on the far left.
The Oakhamian Magazine comments upon his rugby prowess.
Winter 1936 Rugby review: ‘Hooked well for a back which was generally out weighted; must learn to hook with left foot; generally well up in the loose; defence poor.’
Winter 1937 Rugby review: ‘A first class all-round forward who set an example of intelligent covering and backing up; a useful hooker who gave confidence to the pack.’
After school, Michael went to live in New Zealand. He came back home nine months later, in Autumn 1938 due to prospect of war. He joined the Royal Air Force on a Short Service Commission and started his training in January 1939 at Hatfield. He then pursued his advanced flying training at Shawbury from April to October 1939. He was graded as Pilot Officer in probation with 145 Squadron, base at Tangmere, Sussex on 23rd October 1939. He was confirmed in his appointment as Pilot Officer on 23rd January 1940.
The Royal Air Force badge.
On 18th May 1940, 145 Squadron arrived at Merville, France. Their mission was to intercept a formation of Heinkel He111, flying west of Brussels. Michael was shot down east of Brussels but he baled out and landed by parachute on German lines. A boy led him safely to cross the River Dender where he could find British support. Michael rejoined his squadron two days later. He took part in the Battle of Britain and the fighting over Dunkirk and he destroyed a Me110 on 1st June 1940. On 19th July 1940, his Hurricane P2770 was hit and Michael had to land at Shoreham aerodrome. He suffered a concussion and was admitted to Shoreham Hospital. He was declared non-effective sick until the 20th August 1940.
He started flying again and took part in several successful missions. He was promoted to Flight Lieutenant on 23rd October 1940. On 11th November 1940, he was made OC ‘A’ Flight. On 6th July 1941, his Spitfire Va W3366 was shot down over Lille area and Michael was declared missing, believed killed. He was 21.
Roll of honour in the Oakhamian Magazine, Summer term 1943, Vol.58.
He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross: “this officer has been continuously engaged in active operations since May 1940 and has at all times marked courage and leadership. On one occasion during an attack against a large force of enemy bombers, he was shot down into enemy territory, but with great determination, succeeded in gaining his own lines. Flight Lieutenant Newling has destroyed at least three enemy aircraft and assisted in the destruction of several more”. (The London Gazette, 4th February 1941).
The Distinguished Flying Cross.
He is remembered on panel 29 of the Runnymede Memorial.