NEWLING, Michael Alan. Flight Lieutenant (41867) DFC
145 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Died 6 July 1941, aged 21
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission's database does not contain the usual brief family background for Michael - indeed, does not even have his age at death. However, thanks principally to a biography by his cousin, Adrian Williams (posted on http://users.telenet.be), many details can be filled in. Sadly, however, we have not yet established his link to Epsom & Ewell that, given his inclusion in the Borough's Book of Remembrance, there must have been.
Michael was born in Barnes, Surrey, on 28 February 1920, the first of six children born to George Arthur Newling and Dorothy Esmond (née Cranston). At the time of their Q1 1919 marriage in the Kensington District, George (who had a distinguished WW1 record with 2nd Royal Marine Battalion, being awarded the Military Cross) was aged 27 and Dorothy 21.
As a teenager, Michael attended Oakham School
, Rutland, from 1933. He left there in 1937, aged 17, when the family sailed to start a new life in New Zealand. However, only 9 months later (Autumn 1938) the prospect of war brought them back to the UK. Michael joined the RAF - one of 20 selected from over 300 applicants when he applied. By the time war was declared, he had been fully trained (at Uxbridge and Kenley) as a day/night fighter pilot, and was assigned to 145 Squadron, stationed at RAF Tangmere, near Chichester.
He was thus not at home when the September 1939 Register was taken. This records the parents - plus three currently closed records, doubtless of some of their children - living at 43 Kensington Hall Garden, Fulham. 48 year old George is listed as "Advertisements Director" (with the original Register annotated to show him as on the "Officers Emergency Reserve") and 41 year old Dorothy with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties".
145 Squadron's first action of WW2 was on 18 May 1940. From the French base at Merville, Michael's Hurricane Mk I (N2600, SO-G) was part of a flight that went on patrol over Brussels where they intercepted and attacked twelve German bombers. Combat damage to his aircraft forced Michael to leave his formation to try to fly back to base. However, the damage was too severe and, at 1625 hours, he had to abandon his aircraft. (Broad shouldered and 6' 2" tall, he ejected from his aircraft by turning it upside down - a technique taught to other pilots.) He landed safely by parachute near the village of Pamel-Roosdaal in the province of Flemish Brabant, behind enemy lines - through which he was led by a 13-year old boy - rejoining his Squadron two days later.
Over Dunkirk on 31 May 1940, he shared in the destruction of an Me109 and, on 1 June, destroyed a Me110. After covering the remainder of the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk, completed on 4 June 1940.
On 10 July 1940, the Luftwaffe launched what became known as the Battle of Britain. Michael and his Squadron were closely involved in this ferocious aerial combat. On 12 July, Michael shared in in damaging three Me110's and shared in the probable destruction of a Ju88. On 19 July, he shared in destroying a He111. In this action, his Hurricane P2770, was hit in the glycol tank and hydraulic system by return fire. He was slightly concussed in the forced landing at Shoreham aerodrome, and was admitted to Shoreham Hospital. He was non-effective sick for a month, rejoining 145 Squadron on 20 August.
On 12 October, Michael probably destroyed a Me109. On 18 October, he overshot the runway when landing at Tangmere and hit a stationary aircraft. He escaped unhurt but wrote off Hurricane V6856. As one of "the few", Michael helped defeat the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain which ended on 31 October, some weeks into the Luftwaffe's second-stage "Blitz" bombing offensive.
On 11 November 1940, at about the time the Squadron converted to Spitfires, Michael was made OC 'A' Flight. He was mentioned in despatches on 1 January 1941 and, a month later, awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. The citation for this in the London Gazette for 4 February 1941 reads:
"This officer has been continuously engaged in active operations since May 1940, and has at all times displayed 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."
He continued in front-line action, sharing in the destruction of a Ju88 on 1 March 1941.
On 6 July 1941 he was killed in action when, on one of his Squadron's many cross channel sweeps, his Spitfire Va (W3366) was attacked near Lille. It appears that, again, he sought to return to base but came down in the sea.
Michael's body was never recovered and he is commemorated on the Runneymede Memorial as one of the more than 20,000 RAF personnel lost in WW2 operations from bases in the United Kingdom and North and Western Europe, and who have no known grave. His war time exploits mean that he is one of 646 "Aces" credited with destroying at least 5 enemy aircraft.
Top: The RAF's Runneymede Memorial
Photograph with thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Bottom: Michael's entry on Panel 29
Photograph with thanks to the Battle of Britain London Monument
Brian Bouchard & Roger Morgan © 2018
With special thanks to Michael's cousin, Adrian Williams
Please contact the Webmaster if you have information - particularly about Michael's link with the Borough - or pictures that can extend this entry.