WAR SERVICE 1939-2000

Identified by the following designations – descendants of Bartholomew Barcham of Great Yarmouth (BwB); Juler branch of North Walsham (JnJ); William Barcham of Great Yarmouth and Mundesley (WmB); John Barcham of Edingthorpe (JnB); and Benjamin Barcham of Sherringham (BnB).


Second World War

(WmB) Cyril Barcham joined the Royal Australian Air Force War. He, along with many Commonwealth airmen, was sent to Canada for training at No. 6 Service Flight Training School at Dunnville, in southern Ontario, a few miles from Niagara Falls and only about 40 miles from Simcoe, where Chris Farrow lives now. Cyril received flight training in Mk. 2 Harvards, two of which are being flown by the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association from the airport at Tillsonberg, 30 miles west of Simcoe. The Association has six Harvards that take part in Remembrance Day fly-pasts. The following has been extracted from two books:

….. The war effort directly came to Haldimand County when Canada became the training ground for Commonwealth airmen. The training plan called for a number of aircrew schools, ….  and Haldimand, with an abundance of flat agricultural land situated between the lakes was ideal, and as a result several airfields were located in Haldimand County. At Dunnville, a single engine school for fighter pilots was built. The base was on 415 acres near the Grand River, just north of Port Maitland. Five large hangers, 50 ‘H-huts’ and three runways were built to accommodate Harvard and Yale aircraft. …..

….  In November 1940, No. 6 Service Flying Training School, under the Commonwealth Air Training Plan, was opened in Dunn Township …., and the first class of pilots were graduated in February 1941….. latterly the pilots here were trained to compare with the best. …. At one of the later pilot graduations, G.C. Patriache said that Dunnville had sent over more than enough pilots to conduct one of the famous Allied ‘thousand planes’ raids. Actually, during the time the base was in operation, 2447 pilots graduated from No. 6 SFTS, including 200 RAAF. 

                             [from History of Haldimand County and History of Dunn Township]

Cyril Barcham was on his way to England when the war in Europe ended, so he was sent back to Australia and posted to Fighter command in Papua New Guinea, followed by other postings until he was demobilized in 1946.


(BwB)  John (Jock) Steele  Lewes (1913–1941) DSO, a descendant of Margaret  and Bartholemew Barcham’s grandson John Last, enlisted with the Welsh Guards in 1940 and was sent to Egypt in 1941 where he became one of the founding members of the SAS. He led secret patrols behind enemy lines. Jock was killed in action on December 30, 1941. The following notes are

Jock Steele Lewes was born in Calcutta, grew up in Sydney, Australia, and educated at King’s School in Parramatta. After matriculating he went to Oxford, where he became president of the Rowing Club, which staged a comeback that year when its crew won the boat race against Cambridge. After graduating, Jock joined the British Council, and worked for several years in Berlin. In 1939, Jock joined the Tower Hamlets Rifles as a reservist, then when war broke out he enlisted with the Welsh Guards. In 1940 he was recruited into the new Commando force and sent to Egypt in 1941. In June realised that facilities in the Middle East for operating a large and clumsily organised commando unit were insufficient, so he applied for and got permission to detach a section to cover an operation which he had planned, becoming one of the founding members of the SAS under Lieutenant David Stirling. The first 66 volunteers were assembled and put through a desert training curriculum devised by Jock Lewes: The foundations that the volunteers had to possess were: to be a qualified parachutist; an expert with all kinds of arms; well practiced in close combat; tough enough to jump off a truck going at 30 m.p.h. and enduring enough to march 100 miles with a heavy pack; and able to face any contingency and make decisions alone. He was credited with inventing the Lewes Bomb, a type of IED (improvised explosive device); and was awarded the DSO.

The SAS’s first operations were in the desert, where, fed and equipped by the secret patrols of the Long Range Desert Group, they sometimes remained behind enemy lines for two months at a time, operating against airfields and lines of communication. On December 30, 1941, after destroying two aircraft on the ground at Nofilia aerodrome, Jock Lewes’ party was attacked by an ME110 fighter armed with four machine guns forward and two cannon. . The second burst of fire destroyed the SAS’s truck. Lewes was hit in the thigh and despite prompt medical attention the wound was fatal because the femoral artery had been severed.   He remained conscious and continued to give instructions to his men until he died fifteen minutes later. Jock was buried by his patrol about twenty miles south-east of Nofilia.

[from the Foreword and Appendix to Joy Street, A Wartime Romance in Letters, edited by Michael T. Wise, published in 1995 by Little, Brown and Co (ISBN 0 31694767 9 ); a review of A History of the SAS, printed in the Guardian and other sources]


(JnB)  Gerald Hugh Olley (1896–19??), son of Minnie Ann (Springall) Ralph Hales Olley, enlisted on July 10, 1915, and served in the Royal Army Medical Corps in  Salonika [Thesalonika] for nearly three years, until he was discharged on May 3, 1918 at Woking, for ‘no longer being physically fit for War Service’ because his ‘health has suffered from action service.’ Subsequently, after operation, the doctor said his recovery would be better in a warm climate. His uncle, Edward Springall, offered him a job  at Springall & Co’s, store in Mafeking; then became a salesman at the British Trading Association; finally he owned ‘Olley’s’, a grocery store in Fort Victoria, Rhodesia. During WWII, Gerald  was a lieutenant in the Rhodesian Internment Camp Corps, guarding Italians who had been captured in North Africa.


(JnB)  Two of Elizabeth (Barcham) and Harry Edrich’s sons fought in WWII, one in the RAF, the other joined the army:

F/O William (Bill) Edrich (1916–1986) DFC, was a bomber pilot in the RAF. On June 7, 1940, he was shot down near Dieppe while piloting Blenheim No R 3686), but was able to return to the UK. An article titled ‘Fields of Glory’, published in the Observer Sport Monthly states:

 ….. Bill Edrich never forgot the incongruity of those summer days in 1941 when he was a  bomber pilot stationed in Norfolk and  the squadron unwound between missions with games of cricket at Massingham Hall. Every now and then would come the old accustomed cry ‘Owzatt?’,  Edrich recalled. ‘And then one saw again his machine cartwheeling down, flaming from nose to tail.’

Like all bomber pilots, Edrich adopted an attitude of ‘devil-may-care’. It was the gods who decided who lived and who died. One Sunday morning in 1941, Edrich’s squadron bombed a fighter base on a small island off the German coast. The seven Blenheim bombers flew 800 miles to their target at a height of 50 ft to avoid the enemy radar, but when they arrived over the island the sea ‘was crowded  with ships  firing everything they had at us’. Three Blenheims were shot down, the remaining four dropped their bombs and turned tail. A few minutes later the survivors were attacked by four Messerschmidts.  Time and again the German fighters swooped down, with machine guns blazing. After 20 minutes the four Blenheims and three of the Messerschmidts had run out of ammunition. …. But one German had a few more cartridges left. He singled out the plane piloted by Edrich and moved in for the kill. ‘He closed to point blank range about 30 yard – and then nothing happened.’ As the German roared past cursing the jam in his guns, Edrich caught the pilot’s eye and saw a look of exasperation … [but] with a shrug of his shoulder he turned away.

Outwardly, it seemed that the war in which he won the Distinguished Flying Cross, hadn’t affected Edrich’s jaunty character, but the stress of operational flying had left its mark ….

                                    Sgt Geoffrey (Geoff) Arthur Edrich (1918–2004) joined the Army, and a PoW. His obituary, published in the Daily Telegraph on January 10, 2004, states that:

… in February 1942, as a sergeant, [he] was taken prisoner by the Japanese at the fall of Singapore. Somehow one of his fellow prisoners managed to bring a cricket bag, complete with stumps, bails, bats and a new ball, into the prison at Changi; and since the inmates were divided between British and Australians, it was decided to stage "Test" matches on the rest days that came round once every three weeks. Conditions were hot and humid, and the marl pitch unpredictable; yet, no doubt to the mystification of the Japanese, proceedings were conducted with extreme seriousness. There was a typed score sheet, listing not merely players, but 12th men, umpires and scorers; and three matches played were referred to as the "Sydney", "Brisbane" and "Melbourne Tests". More than 1,000 PoWs egged on their teams, and a Sikh guard who appropriated the ball on the boundary was promptly rendered unconscious.

‘Australia’ were captained by their Test wicketkeeper Ben Barnett, but it was ‘England’ who won the ‘series’, largely thanks to Geoff Edrich, who scored a century in each of the matches.

Subsequently, Edrich was one of the prisoners set to work on the infamous ‘Railroad of Death’ in Thailand. Thousands perished, and only six survived from Edrich's platoon. At the end of the war he weighed little more than six stone. …..


(BnB) Two grandsons of Rosina (Bell) and James Connor Barcham joined the armed services during WWII. They were sons of Sarah (Hamilton) and Frank Edward Barcham, whose daughter Doreen also contributed to the war effort:

Frank Charles Barcham (19131986) served in the army before and during WWII. He was a major when he was demobilised. At present, his service record and other details of his life are not known.

F/O Leonard John Barcham (1916–2001) DFC served in the RAF during WWII.   The citation reads:

BARCHAM F/O Leonard John (RAF 133658) Distinguished Flying Cross - No. 404 Squadron, awarded as per London Gazette dated 5 December 1944.Born 1915, at Bromley, London, home at Dagenham, Essex, enlisted as aircrew 1940, trained in Canada (see Cyril Barcham, above) but it is not known which CFTS base he was stationed, and commissioned in 1942, ref. Air Ministry Bulletin 16529/AC937. 

Flying Officer Barcham acted as a navigator on a large number of operational missions and successfully directed his pilot on a large number of anti-shipping operations. His ability, judgment and coolness have been a great value to his pilot, and he has on several occasions secured excellent photographs. He has displayed the greatest determination to engage the enemy at every opportunity.

[from website ‘Non-Canadian Personnel Decorated for Second World War Services - names A-F]

Another website has the history of 404 Squadron RCAF and mentions Len Barcham several times:

404  coastal Fighter Squadron, named ‘Buffalo’  from its squadron emblem, was formed on 15 April 1941 at RAF Thorney Island in south-east England, flying Bristol Blenheims, Beaufighters and later De Havilland Mosquitoes, until it was disbanded on May 1945, was comprised of British and Canadian flight crews. Battle honours gained in the Atlantic, English Channel and North Sea, 194145; Baltic, 194445; Bay of Biscay, 194345; and Norway, 1944. …... In September 1943 , when he was a training officer stationed at Tain; and on January 3, 1944, was put in charge of R.P. training that was being conducted there.

Doreen (Stella) Barcham, Frank and Leonard’s younger sister, server in the Women’s Land Army at Little Clacton, Essex, and was an Auxiliary  Nurse. After the war she, she married Henry Ransom, a Royal Navy petty officer, Hen.


(BnB) Leslie Benjamin Barcham (1911–1984), a great-grandson of Eliza (Storey) and Benjamin Barcham Barcham, enlisted as a driver in the Royal Army Service Corps. He survived the D-Day landings and spent time in Belgium and Holland.


(BnB) Leonard James Barcham, grandson of Edith and Edmund James Connor Barcham, emigrated to Australia in 1927. He enlisted in the Australian forces and was a field ambulance officer.


(BnB) Tony Barcham, Neal Leslie Barcham's younger brother, served also served in the Australian armed forces.


(JnB) Robert John Barcham grandson of Caroline (Quantrill) and John Robert Barcham, joined the Royal Navy in 1942, and rose through the ranks to become a lieutenant commander. During the war he served on a number of ships and was posted to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he met his future wife. After the war he continued to serve in the Navy as a lieutenant aboard two submarines – Tudor (in 1951) and Artful  (1951/2) , then and as lieutenant commander of the frigate HMS Loch Inch (1951–55), the destroyer HMS Daring (1959/60, Drake (1961–63). In 1964,  Robert was posted to the Royal Canadian Navy at HMCS Stadacona (1965)  the Canadian forces Naval Engineering School in Halifax (1965), then at  HMS Excellent (1966/7) a shore establishment on Whale Island in Portsmouth Harbour (ref Navy Lists). 


(WmB)  Lt-Col Peter Rivers Hicks jnr, OBE (1909–1994), was one of Edith (Barcham) and Rivers Hicks’ grandsons. Like his two first cousins once removed, Tom and Herbert Barcham, who fought in WWI, Peter gave up his civilian stockbroker’s job and enlisted in the army. In 1939, he went to the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, and in March 1940, he was commissioned into the Royal West Kent Regiment.  He served with the regiment in France, West Africa, North Africa and Italy and received the OBE in 1944. Peter’s distinguished record was reported in supplements to the London Gazette:

                                  September 16, 1943, page 4122:

The KING has been graciously pleased to approvee that the following be MENTIONED in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in North Africa …. Maj, (actg. Lt-Col) P.R. Hicks (126452).

                                             June 8, 1944, page 2575:

The King has been graciously pleased on the occasion of the celebration of His Majesty’s Birthday, to give orders for the following promotions in, and appointments to, the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire:

To be additional officers of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order …. Major (temporary Lieutenant-Colonel) Peter Rivers Hicks (126452), The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment.


Note: In Egypt, Peter Hicks and John Lewis might have fought alongside the famous 28th Maori Battalion , in which were Capt Frederick Tiwha Bennett and his half-brother  Lt-Col Charles Mohi Bennett. The latter was the uncle of Joan Mary Rangiore (Bennett) the wife of Stewart Charles Barcham, a descendant of Martha (Smith) and William Edwards Barcham, see Founding Families in New Zealand.


(BnB) Neal Barcham, son of Herbert Edmund Barcham, see above, Melbourne, joined the Australian Navy in 1941 at the age of seventeen. He served on HMAS Shepparton for a short time, then was transferred to HMS Nepal on which he served until he was discharged in 1946. While on the Nepal, he spent time in Africa, the Seychelles Islands and Mauritius, India, Ceylon and the Pacific Islands that were not in Japanese hands. After VJ Day, he also went to Japan.

HMAS Shepparton,  a Bathurst Class minesweeper/corvette was built by Williamstown Naval Dockyard, Victoria, commissioned 1 Feb. 1943 and scrapped in 1958: displacement 1025 tons, complement 80 men. HMAS Norseman, an N Class destroyer, commissioned 4 Dec. 1941, became HMS Nepal in 1942.


Post Second World War

(JJ) Michael John Allisstone CBE joined the RAF in September 1951. He did not complete pilot training because he stalled the Chipmunk trainer and went into an inverted spin – saved from a serious accident by the flying instructor – and was transferred to the Supply Branch cadetship. Shortly before retiring in 1988 as an Air Commodore, he was Acting Director General of the Supply Branch.


(BnB) Geoffrey Barcham, son of Neal Barcham, joined the Australian Navy in 1973, on his sixteenth birthday. As a junior recruit, he was sent to HMAS Leeuwen Naval Base in Western Australia where he spent twelve months. Then he joined the Communication Branch, and sailed on HMAS Parramatta all round the Far East, including Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. He also served time in Darwin, Canberra and Melbourne; and served for three years in the USA attached to the Australian embassy in Washington, D.C. When he returned to Australia from that posting, he had served with the navy for 25 years, so he requested to be discharged.


In the late 1980s two naval reviews were staged in Sydney Harbour. The first, in 1986, celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Royal Australian Navy. Parramatta, Derwent and Torrens took part in this review. The second review, in October 198? , was part of the Australian bicentennial celebrations. Parramatta, Stuart and Torrens represented the class in this event. .... During May 1990, sixty-four warships from eighteen countries attended the Malaysian Fleet Review: Parramatta and Derwent as well as the frigate Canberra represented Australia. .... In August 1986, Parramatta and Derwent were the last of the class to visit China.