Lance Newnham

Colonel Lanceray Arthur Newnham GC MC (3 August 1889 – 18 December 1943), known as Lance or Lan Newnham,[1] was a British Army officer. He was posthumously awarded the George Cross for the gallantry he showed in resisting Japanese torture during the Second World War.

Lanceray Arthur Newnham
Born3 August 1889
British India
Died18 December 1943 (aged 54)
Sham Shui Prison Camp, Japanese-occupied Hong Kong
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service1910–1943
Service number6265
UnitMiddlesex Regiment
Battles/warsWorld War I

World War II

AwardsUK George Cross ribbon.svg George Cross
Military cross BAR.svg Military Cross

Early lifeEdit

Newnham was born on 3 August 1889 in India. He was the son of Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur Tristram H. Newnham and his wife, Ekaterina. He was educated in England, at Bedales School[2]

First World WarEdit

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.[3]

On 5 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 27 May 1917.[4] He then served for five months as General Staff Officer 2nd Class at the New Zealand Divisional Headquarters.[5] On 1 January 1917 Captain Newnham was awarded the Military Cross for service during the First World War.[6] He ended the war with the rank of temporary Brigadier-General.

On 7 January 1918 he married Phillys Edith Henderson at St. Mary's Church, Finchely, Middlesex, England. (Marriage Register, England & Wales).

Second World WarEdit

Newnham was serving with the British Army Aid Group in British Hong Kong at the start of the Second World War. He was taken prisoner when the Japanese invaded Hong Kong in December 1941 and, with Captain Douglas Ford and Flight Lieutenant Hector Bertram Gray worked to contact British agents and organise a mass escape. The Japanese discovered the plan and arrested the trio, torturing them in Stanley Prison in an effort to gain more information. They refused to divulge any further names despite being beaten, starved and threatened with death. They were killed by firing squad in Sham Shui Prison Camp on 18 December 1943.[7]

He is buried at the Stanley Military Cemetery in Hong Kong.[8]


  1. ^ Michael Ashcroft, George Cross Heroes, 2010
  2. ^ Bedales School Roll, eds Anne Archer, Dennis Archer, The Bedales Association, 1993
  3. ^ World War I Medal Index Cards Index, National Archive, Kew, England
  4. ^ C.H. Dudley-Ward, 56th Division (1921)
  5. ^ Lt Col John Studholme, Some Records of the NZ Expeditionary Force, 1928, p. 227
  6. ^ "No. 29886". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 January 1917. p. 39.
  7. ^ John Frayn Turner, Awards of the George Cross 1940-2009 (Casemate Publishers, 2010), 85.
  8. ^ Commonwealth War Graves Commission – Colonel Lanceray Arthur Newnham GC