Milton High School

Selborne Avenue, Bulawayo

Serving in His Majesty's Forces - David Greswolde Lewis , Known as "Tommy" Lewis,

The Red Baron's last Victim .... Prisoner of War at Graudenz

1918

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Extract from a display by the Rhodesian Services Assn in Tauranga, New Zealand with photo of David Greswolde Lewis:

Baron von Richtofen’s Combat Report from 20th April 1918 1843 hrs, north-east of Villers-Bretonneux.
Three minutes after I had brought down the first machine (Note – this was Raymond-Barker), I attacked a second Camel of the same enemy squadron. The adversary dived, caught his machine and repeated this manoeuvre several times. I approached him as near as possible when fighting and fired 50 bullets until the machine began to burn. The body of the machine was burned in the air, the remnants dashed to the ground, north-east of Villers-Bretonneux. (signed Baron von Richtofen). Lewis recorded that he was hit and went down. He’d seen the red Triplane come round behind his tail and Richtofen’s bullets set his seven gallon gravity tank afire.


Lewis, however, was more fortunate than his CO (Raymond-Barker) had been, and somehow survived the impact with the ground. He came down only some 50 yards from Raymond-Barker’s (Richtofen’s victory No. 79) machine the wreckage of which was burning furiously. As he stood between the two burning machines, Lewis saw a Triplane fly by at low level, the pilot waving.  Presumably this was Richtofen and he must have assumed the man, Lewis, to be a German soldier, for it seems certain he believed his two victories had resulted in two men dead.

He undoubtable wanted someone on the ground to recognise his red machine in order to gain confirmation of his two kills. Lieutenant Hans Weiss of Jasta 11 was credited with a Camel shot down, south-west of Bois de Hamel at 18:40, but this appears to be a 201 Squadron pilot, Second Lieutenant G R Riley RFC (GL) in D6475, returned wounded having been hit on the left shoulder by a machinegun bullet, his Camel damaged. There are no apparent personnel losses amongst JG1’s pilots. Von Richtofen gained his 80th victory and his second of the day, flying Fokker Dr 1 No.425/17. This machine is understood to have had red sides and top deck fuselage, red upper surfaces on all wings, struts, wheel covers and tail, but white rudder. The former Patee crosses had been overpainted with the new broad style Balken crosses. Wing and fuselage undersurfaces were turquoise. Its engine was 110 hp. Oberuresel type serial Nr. 2478. This Dr1’s Werke Nr. Was 2009, built in Frankfurt and first tested on 8th January 1918. It was the same Dr. that von Richtofen flew out to do battle with 209 Squadron the next day - and failed to return.

Extract from ‘Under The Guns of The Red Baron’ Pages 202 and 203

red_baron
The Red Baron.
The painting above, by Digby Sinclair depicts the dogfight between von Richtofen and David Lewis who was flying Sopwith Camel No. B7393 3
Squadron RAF Engine No. 101026 WD10398 Guns A6576 & B168 at 1843 hrs, north-east of Villers-Bretonneux.

The painting is on loan to the Rhodesian Military Display at the Hauraki Museum Hall in Tauranga. New Zealand.

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Permission to reproduce articles of David Greswolde Lewis, Known as "Tommy" Lewis - January 08, 2018.
I would be delighted if you would share this information.
David Greswolde (Tommy) Lewis was my uncle (my Dad's older brother) my Dad John Gordon Lewis also went to Milton and played Rugby - he was born in 1905- died 1989.
Very best wishes,
Diana Armstrong - Denver Colorado USA


"Tommy" Lewis with his plane "Rhodesia".
pilot_tommy_rfc_detail

David Greswolde Lewis was born in Bulawayo, Rhodesia on 15th October 1898 and died in Salisbury (Harare) in 1978.
Second Lieutenant in the Air Force (RAF/RFC), Royal Flying Corps.
Second Lieutenant in the Air Force (RAF/RFC), Royal Flying Corps, 78 Squadron.
Second Lieutenant in the Air Force (RAF/RFC), Royal Flying Corps, 3 Squadron.

When I was seven or eight years old I was sent to St. John's School in Bulawayo and was there until the Milton School was opened under the headmastership of E.B. de Beer who later became headmaster at St. George's Cape Town. My only brother (John Gordon) was born in Bulawayo. He eventually moved to Durban there he owned a heavy transport company. He married and had a son and a daughter. No great emphasis was placed on examinations, except terminal ones and so long as one played games, that satisfied the masters. In sport, especially, cricket, our main opponents we St. George's which had some very good players such as Aidan Campbell who subsequently became a prominent doctor.

Whilst at school the then Mr. Brady (subsequently Colonel KBBC) who was a left-arm bowler and played in the Irish Eleven, took An Eleven, including me, to play against a side at Livingstone where a match was played with a coir matting as the wicket. This was not strange for us as we had no turf wickets at that stage. Later I played rugger, cricket and tennis for both Matabeleland and Midlands. My position on the rugby field was .. for I had a fairly good kick with either foot.

I reported to the War Office armed with a recommendation from Mr. Justice Russell for consideration for a commission in my father's old regiment, The Royal Welch Fusiliers of which he had been a member before coming to South Africa. I was sent to the War Office in Berkhamsted where I enlisted in the Inns of Court OTC.

In Number 3 Squadron located at Warloy talk of Baron von Richthofen and his "Circus' which was having great success under his leadership and skill. In the particular engagement, which took place in German occupied France four miles north east of Villers-Bretoneaux, in which I took part, the first person to be hit by von Richthofen was my Commanding Officer, Major Raymond Barker, who with his machine on hire plunged earthwards.

A few minutes later I was hit and set alight by the same gentleman and could do nothing but make for the ground and since my petrol tank (now on fire) was behind, this act kept the flames billowing away from me, but since petrol caught alight which was on the floor of the machine it blew up in my face which was quite badly burnt. I managed to land with little fabric left on the ailerons and elevators and walker over to the German support trenches watched by the German infantry who could quite easily have shot me had they wished to. I was taken down into a dug-out and there given some schnapps by a German officer who had my burns tended and sent me in the charge of two Uhlans to Peronne Hospital.

After a long train journey across Germany I eventually after interrogation in Karlsruhe was detained in a prisoner-of-war camp in Graudenz 60 miles south of Danzig on the Vistula River which, of course, is the boundary between Russia and Germany. All the buildings here had double windows because of the bitterness of the winter so far east. The allied blockade of Germany had its effect on our food supply but the position was improved when the food parcels started arriving from the Red Cross. I was taken prisoner on the 20th April 1918 but my first parcel did not catch up with me until October 1918 when living was made much more pleasant. We received one loaf of white bread a week which came from Denmark but was much nicer than the German loaf. With food parcels arriving from England for each British prisoner there then was a surplus of food and since there was a ten foot barbed wire fence surrounding the building in which we lived, we used to throw food over the fence to the German children waiting outside. Treatment by the armed sentries varied with the character of the Commandant and I know of no complaints against our German officers although stories of the treatment meted out in Holtzminden shewed I was lucky to be where I was.
The huge exercise yard was well-lit and when these lights were turned on at night it was the signal for us to enter our rooms in the building (barrack). I think that in all camps of detention the treatment by the Germans varied with the behaviour of the prisoners and quite rightly so, for after all, it was wartime, and we were wont to say to the sentries "Deutschland kaput" and of course their retort was "nein nein England kaput". At the top floor of each of the two buildings housing prisoners there were a number of cells in which officers were sometimes sentenced to remain for various periods following misdemeanours. Sentries were posted in the corridors but readily gave permission to officers who wished to visit inmates.

On the 2nd December 1918, I was repatriated to England landing at Leith in Scotland from a Russian Hospital ship on which there were over 2,000 prisoners of all unites of the British Army. We were greeted on the docks by an officer of staff rank sent by the War Office who gave a speech of welcome. In the sheds on the quay we were handed soap, towels, cigarettes and food and then conveyed by train to Ripon and from there dispersed to our relatives. In May 1919 together with a number of other officers including Major Lewis, the father of the present Mr. Justice Lewis whom few people know was born in England, we embarked ship for South Africa.

Written in Gwanda, in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).