b. 03/08/1889 Simla, India. d. 18/12/1943 Hong Kong.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 10/07 - 18/12/1943 Hong Kong.
Lanceray Arthur Newnham (1889-1943) was born on 3rd August 1889 in India, the son of Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Tristram Herbert and Ekaterina Newman (nee Yonova). They had met when Arthur was the Military Attache to the Russian court of Tsar Nicholas and Lance was born while his parents were accompanying the Court on an extended visit to India. Lance was educated in England at Bedales School, a co-educational boarding school. He showed a great aptitude for sport, particularly hockey and tennis. In 1914, Lance would play on the Centre Court at Wimbledon. Lance had an elder brother named Eric who became a noted botanist and biologist.
On the outbreak of World War I, Newnham was first deployed to France to join the British Expeditionary Force as a Captain with the Middlesex Regiment (Duke of Cambridge's Own) in August 1915. On 5th February 1916 he was appointed as the Brigade Major, 169th (Infantry) Brigade, 56th (London) Division, Territorial Force, holding the post through the severe fighting of the Somme Offensive of 1916 and the Arras Offensive of 1917, until relinquishing it on 27th May 1917. He then served for five months as General Staff Officer 2nd Class at the New Zealand Divisional Headquarters. On 1st January 1917 Captain Newnham was awarded the Military Cross for service during the First World War. He ended the war with the rank of temporary Brigadier-General. On 7th January 1918 he married Phillys Edith Henderson at St. Mary's Church, Finchley, Middlesex, England. His new bride was originally from Cornwall and was a VAD. They had a son, Claude, born in 1919.
Following the end of Great War, Lance remained in the Middlesex Regiment, and was promoted to Brevet Major in November 1920. He was promoted further to Lieutenant Colonel in August 1938. In 1940, he appeared on the Army List as Acting Colonel and was serving with British troops in China. When the Japanese invaded Hong Kong in December 1941, he became a prisoner of war. While in captivity he managed with a numbers of others, including Captain Douglas Ford, to make contact with British agents. They were arranging a scheme for a mass break-out when on 10th July 1943 they were betrayed by Bashir Ahmed and arrested. Both men were interrogated, starved, tortured and finally sentenced to death in an endeavour to make them talk, but they refused to give up any information. They were both shot on 18th December 1943.
He was originally buried on Shekko Beach beside Douglas Ford and Hector Gray, before being moved to the Stanley Military Cemetery, Hong Kong. Lance was cited for the award of a posthumous George Cross alongside Douglas Ford and Mateen Ahmed Ansari on 18th April 1946. His widow Phyllis (who had been interred by the Japanese herself) and sson Claude were presented with his GC by King George VI at Buckingham Palace on 3rd December 1946. His medals including his GC, MC, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 with Mentioned in Despatches oakleaf, General Service Medal with clasp “Palestine”, 1939-45 Star, Pacific Star, Defence Medal 1939-45, War Medal 1939-45 with Mentioned in Despatches oakleaf and 1935 King George V Silver Jubilee Medal were stolen in 1974 from the Newnham family, and an official replacement group were donated to the Imperial War Museum, where they are displayed in the Ashcroft Gallery.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: STANLEY MILITARY CEMETERY, HONG KONG.
PLOT I, ROW A, GRAVE 58.
Newnham's medals on the Imperial War Museum website. They were not displayed in the Lord Ashcroft Gallery in December 2014.
Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst Chapel Memorial to Lanceray Newnham GC, MC (Thomas Stewart).
British War Graves