On Friday 11th November we are marking Remembrance Day in school with a special assembly. 283 Old Novos lost their lives over the course of the First and Second World Wars, and their names are carved into the boards of our Memorial Organ.
Once of the names on the Roll of Honour for the Second World War is James Reed Guthrie. His story was kindly shared with us by Nigel Markham, a recent visitor to the RGS Archives.
James Guthrie was born in Herefordshire in 1918, to parents William and Mary (née Sharpe). Subsequently the family moved up to Newcastle upon Tyne; by 1926 James had started his schooling at RGS. He seemed to have had a passion for drama at school; The Novocastrian magazine reports on numerous plays he took part in during the early 1930’s. He left in 1935.
James then followed schoolfriend Philip de Lacey Markham (ON 26-37) down to Airspeed Ltd, an aeronautical engineering firm in Portsmouth. Both joined the RAF once war broke out in 1939.
James became a Flying Officer in No. 61 Squadron. During his period of service the No. 61 Squadron were based at RAF Hemswell in Lincolnshire and flew Handley Page Hampden aircrafts. This Squadron undertook the first recorded bombing raid of a German land target in March 1940.
On the 9th June 1940, James and the rest of his crew departed Hemswell on a Communications Mission to Germany. Tragically, their plane crashed at Krefeld-Verdingen and all four crew members were recorded as killed in action on 10th June 1940. James would have been just 22 years old when he died.
James Guthrie is buried alongside his crew at Reichswald Forest War Cemetery in Germany. He was survived by his mother; his father had died in 1936, and James had no siblings or children himself. We will remember him.
Nigel Markham is the son of Old Novo Philip de Lacey Markham, and mother Josephine Townsley. Both parents were very close friends with James Guthrie, who was known to them as “Jimmy”. They never forgot him and named their oldest son after him. We are incredibly grateful to Nigel for sharing Jimmy’s story with us – thank you.