Search

Hornchurch grandfather, firefighter and soldier, 98, gets fitting send off

16:49 06 June 2014

Photo of Ronald Alfred Newbold taken on a visit to Normandy with his son David in 2009

Photo of Ronald Alfred Newbold taken on a visit to Normandy with his son David in 2009

Archant

The long life of Hornchurch war veteran and firefighter Ronald Alfred Newbold was one of duty and service.

The funeral procession of 98-year-old Ronald Alfred Newbold passes Hornchurch fire stationThe funeral procession of 98-year-old Ronald Alfred Newbold passes Hornchurch fire station

His funeral this week, which began with the procession of his coffin on the back of a fire engine, served as an eminently fitting tribute – although one that may have angered him.

“My dad was a northerner – he’d have been very, very cross at spending money!” said daughter Chris Hunt of her Leicester-born father.

Ronald – Ron to his friends – died aged 98 on May 21.

Whether it was joining the Army’s Coldstream Guards – which saw him taking part in the Normandy landings of D-Day –- or his full 25 years as a firefighter, his was a life characterised by service.

Picture of firefighter Ronald Alfred Newbold, taken at the opening of Wennington Fire Station on September 15 1962Picture of firefighter Ronald Alfred Newbold, taken at the opening of Wennington Fire Station on September 15 1962

Ron, who lived in Coniston Way, Hornchurch, from 1948 until his death, joined the Army in 1937. He intended to become a police officer but a former guardsman advised to sign up first for experience, his daughter recalls.

Though he kept many of the more harrowing details to himself, he had a tale or two to tell about his wartime experiences.

“In the liberation of Eindhoven [in the Netherlands],” says 59-year-old Chris, “they were welcomed by the people and they had false ceilings in their homes to hide from the Nazis. And they took the false ceilings down and handed out all of these spirits and champagne.”

After the war, Ron joined the fire brigade, working first at Hornchurch fire station and then at Wennington when it opened in 1962. Nine years later he retired, spending ten years at the water board before drawing his pension.

His career in the fire service became another episode marred by the sad loss of friends – stories of which he very much kept to himself.

But in retirement, he dedicated his life to remembering the fallen as chairman of the Romford branch of the Normany and Dunkirk Veterans’ Association, organising yearly journeys back to France. To have missed this week’s 70th anniversary commemorations by just a few days would no doubt have disappointed him.

A man active to the end, twice-widowered Ron only last year showed signs of deteriorating health. He was diagnosed with dementia and two weeks ago succumbed to a bout of pneumonia. He is survived by his three children and 11 grandchildren.

Latest News Stories

Cllr Benham

Up to 2,000 people could be out of pocket due to a Havering Council blunder caused by “teething problems” in a new system.

A broken down lorry has caused long delays on the A12 with London bound traffic worst affected.

Yesterday, 12:33
A portrait of Hayley Anderson (photo: Arnaud Stephenson)

Hayley Anderson gives her view on happenings in the jungle

Yesterday, 09:00
Troy Townsend and June Kelly posing with England manager Roy Hodgson (right) during the FA 150th Anniversary Gala Dinner at the Grand Connaught Rooms in London.

Claims teenage footballers were subjected to “monkey actions and noises” during a match are being investigated by FA chiefs.

Most read news

WW100

Click on the banner above for full coverage of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of the First World War.

News from your area

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Romford Recorder e-edition today E-edition

The new legislation is being backed up by an anti-terrorism awareness drive by police forces nationwide.

More than 170,000 tweets have been posted in the last three days using the hashtag #CameronMustGo.

Computer firm Symantec discover malware so sophisticated, they say it suggests government involvement.

The tragic police shooting of a boy in Cleveland prompts state legislators in Ohio to consider new laws for replica guns.