Information where Born/Lived on Sergeant Ralph Lewis (DFM) RAF 540757

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by spidge, Oct 13, 2018.

  1. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    I have this lad as an Australian in the RAF however I have lost the link which gave me the initial information (10 years ago)

    He was with 158sq however they have him as English.

    Ralph Lewis was born 1919/1920
    Died 7/02/1943 aged 23.
    Maybe brother Jack and Sister Celia as per headstone however could be other relative!
    Buried Guidel Communal Cemetery, Morbihan France.
    Parents: Harry and Mary Lewis of Bondi, New South Wales (CWGC)

    Any help appreciated.


    Geoff Lewis R DFM (Flt Engr) 540757 RAF 7.2.1943.JPG
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2018
  2. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Distinguished Flying Cross Squadron Leader William FLETCHER, D F M (44063), No 158 Squadron.
    Distinguished Flying Medals to 540757 Sergeant Ralph LEWIS, and 1375551 Sergeant Harry KAY, No 158 Squadron
    In December, 1942, Squadron Leader Fletcher and Sergeants Lewis and Kay were captain, flight engineer and navigator of a heavy bomber detailed to attack Turin While over the target area one of the starboard engines failed Shortly after the bombs had been released all blind flying instruments failed and the aircraft stalled and fell into a spin Squadron Leader Fletcher skilfully regained control, but it was found impossible to climb over the Alps Despite bad weather and poor visibility Sergeant Kay navigated the aircraft on another course round the Alps. Sergeant Lewis's cool and skilful manipulation of ;the petrol
    consumption completed the team work which resulted in the safe return, of the aircraft, after flying some 900 miles with 1 of its engines disabled. These members of aircraft crew set a grand example of grim determination to triumph over tremendous
    Fletcher and Kay later died aboard Halifax Mk II DT694 NP@N on 14/15th February 1943

    Simply that fathers name is the same (but could be a different family) there is
    Name LEWIS, JOHN. Service Australian Army. Service Number VX83242 (V55536)
    Date of Birth 14 Feb 1920 Place of Birth MELBOURNE, VIC. Date of Enlistment 26 Jul 1942
    Locality on Enlistment NORTHCOTE, VIC Place of Enlistment IN THE FIELD, QLD
    Next of Kin LEWIS, HARRY. Date of Discharge 21 Sep 1945. Rank Private
    Posting at Discharge 4 FIELD REGIMENT
    (seems linked to Tumut, NSW)
    Name LEWIS, JOHN VERNON. Service Australian Army. Service Number NX34156
    Date of Birth 24 Oct 1911. Place of Birth HABERFIELD, NSW
    Date of Enlistment 17 Jun 1940. Locality on Enlistment MONA VALE, NSW
    Place of Enlistment PADDINGTON, NSW. Next of Kin LEWIS, HARRY
    Date of Discharge 14 Aug 1945 Rank Corporal
    Posting at Discharge 3 DOCKS CONTROL

    i note that his headstone bears the Star of David, so perhaps there is a Jewish community in Bondi that could help - and perhaps the true surname has been anglicised?
    Tricky Dicky and timuk like this.
  3. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member


    I have looked but cant find anything concrete about him being born in the UK. Have checked shipping departures between 1920 and 1940 for him sailing to Aus - assuming he was born in the UK, but nothing and at that time there wouldnt have been another way really.

    If you find any further details about his parents - her maiden name for instance let us know

    My gut would go for an Australian birth

  4. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    There is a Master R Lewis aged 2 listed on the Passenger List for the 'Orvieto' leaving London 26/5/22 for Sydney. He is not travelling with his parents but with a Mrs Davies. There is a line through both the entries. Whether this means he was a 'no show' or what I don't know. UK address is given as 93, Llandaff Road, Cardiff.

    spidge and Tricky Dicky like this.
  5. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Did see that but couldnt tie anything up with a Harry & Mary, plus dont know if there was and Wales connection. As you say though his name is struck through so not sure what that means. They were the Shimwell family a that address and without any idea again of connection between Shimwell, Lewis and Davies (the other struck through name next to Lewis) its all a bit of conjecture.

    Never been down this route but what about the Jewish church records - would they not keep records?? in Australia or UK

    spidge and timuk like this.
  6. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    TD - I know. And Kevin may have it right when he says the name may have been anglicised.

    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  7. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    On a whim I checked the 1939 Register. At 83, Llandaff Rd, Cardiff are David and Charlotte Lewis. 83 would seem to be next door to 93, at least 93 follows 83 in the Register. Mind you all this shows is a connection to Master R on the passenger list. There is nothing, as yet, to connect Master R to Ralph except his age and nothing to connect his parents Harry and Mary to David and Charlotte.

    Edit: I think my eyes are going. It's Daniel not David Lewis at 83.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2018
  8. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    Thank you all for the sleuthing!

    Has anyone been able to see a connection to the other names on the headstone CELIA and JACK?

  9. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    There were some in the First Fleet of 1788 and Bondi has a very large Jewish community. So I am onto it with an email to the Admin at the Synagogue in Bondi.


  10. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    IF (and it's only an "if") the Lewis family did have a link to Landaff Road, Cardiff, could not only the Lewis but Daniel, Charlotte, Jack and Ralph (if they are related) have a "better" Jewish first name? Is there a special meaning to the Hebrew text/figures in the centre of the Star, or is it a "standard CWGC design? An obvious Jewish name would be Levy, (the Levi's?) but perhaps other variants could better be transcribed as Lewis? Ludwig seems too obvious a first name, not a surname...
    It's likely that 93 only followed 83 if the 4 intervening houses were empty......
    Harry and Mary aren't easily identifiable as Jewish.

    I think perhaps a check around Bondi may give more answers than we can give from the UK.

    The headstone would probably date to 1955 when the CWGC visited the cemetery, so the headstone inscription would be between 1943 and 1955 at a guess. They may have received a Final Verification Form in the UK but only returned it after reaching Oz. That gives ample time for the Lewis family to have emigrated and thus give a Bondi address to the CWGC.....

    Many Jews deliberated served under "English" names for obvious reasons, but the family all seem to have used English name forms
    spidge and timuk like this.

Share This Page