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14th September 2020

Oakham School and the Battle of Britain

On the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain in 1940, Oakham School archives remembers the four Old Oakhamians who were part of The Few.

Robert Hugh Barber (19/12/1915-30/03/1998)

A member of Wharflands House from 1929-34, Robert became a house and school prefect in his time at school. In sport, he excelled at Cricket, being made captain of the team, and at rugby and running. In the school’s OTC he became a sergeant.

In the war, Robert joined as pilot in Fighter Command, 46 Squadron. He was wounded in the Battle of Britain. In later life, he joined the Metropolitan Police and emigrated to New Zealand.

A photograph of the 1934 Cricket team with barber sat in the centre as captain.

John Denys Fletcher (02/08/1918 – 08/02/1942)

A School House Alumni between 1932 and 1935, Fletcher was a house prefect and received his sporting colours in running, boxing, and rugby. In the CCF, he rose to corporal. When conflict broke out, Fletcher joined the 91 Squadron and took part in the Battle of Britain. In 1942, Fletcher was killed whilst undertaking a reconnaissance patrol of the Belgian coast. He was 23 years old. He is buried at Middelkerke Community Cemetery in Belgium.

A photograph of the 1935 rugby 1st XV. Fletcher is seated on the centre row, second from the right. 

Michael Alan Newling, DFC (28/02/1920-06/07/1941)

Newling was a member of Wharflands House from 1933 – 1938. He was a house prefect, sergeant in the OTC and gained his rugby colours playing for the first XV. After school, he emigrated to New Zealand but returned to the UK and joined the RAFVR. He became a pilot in Fighter Command in the 145 squadron. During the Battle of Britain, he is known to have destroyed at least three enemy aircraft. On the 18th May 1940, he was shot down over enemy territory but managed to get back to allied lines. He was mentioned in despatches on the 1st January 1941 and awarded the DFC in May 1940. This award was given

“in recognition of gallantry displayed in flying operations against the enemy; this officer has been actively engaged in operation since last May (1940); on one occasion he was shot down in enemy territory but succeeded in gaining his own lines. He has destroyed at least three enemy aircraft and assisted in the destruction of several more”

Newling was killed in action in a Spitfire near Lille on the 6th July 1941, aged just 21. His name is memorialised on Panel 20 of the Runnymead Memorial.

A photograph of the 1938 rugby 1st XV. Newling is sat on the centre row, far left.

Michael Rook, DFC (12/10/1915-1947/48)

A member of Junior and Wharflands House between 1924 and 1929, Rook was a pilot in Fighter Command 504 squadron. He was wounded in the Battle of Britain but went on to fight in Russia in 1942. He was awarded the DFC when he led his squadron to capture an aerodrome during an assault on Algiers. He was killed in a flying accident in 1947/early 1948.

The Battle of Britain memorial plaque which is displayed in the school’s chapel.

If you are interested in finding out more about our Old Oakhamians who fought in World War Two, please visit our Libguides site to view our online exhibition here.

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