Every Name A Story Content

Ewbank, D., Miss, V.A.D., 1941

With Thanks to Backworth School

Photo: Brian Chandler

Newcastle Journal Saturday 19/04/1941

Whitley Visitors' Gazette 07/06/1940

In Whitley Bay (Hartley South) Cemetery is a family headstone which reads:

In cherished and unfading memory of
dearly loved only child of
Verina, and the late Thomas Ewbank
who gave her life for her country
10th April 1941, in her 27th year.
To know her was to love her.
also Verina
who died
28th Oct. 1988, in her 102nd year.
Together again.

Doris Ewbank was born on the 23rd August 1913, at Auckland, Co Durham, and was the daughter of Verina Mary Ewbank, [born 17th June 1887, died 28th October 1988], and Thomas Ewbank.

Doris was educated at the Whitley and Monkseaton High School for Girls from 1925 to August 1931. She passed the Higher School Certificate from the Joint Matriculation Board of the Universities Manchester Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, and Birmingham examination in French with Distinction. in July. Leeds Mercury Saturday 22/08/1931.

In 1939, Mary A. Davison, born 22nd December 1862, Unpaid Domestic Duties Widowed; Christina Fish (Collsins), born 18th June 1904, a School Teacher, Single and Edith Manthorpe, born 30th July, 1893 a Headmistress, were all residing at the same address as Doris and her mother.

Miss Ewbank was a primary school teacher at Backworth School, she also volunteered for the W.R.V.S. Doris had been at the school since 1935.

During wartime she had volunteered for nursing duties with the V.A.D., and as was part of the First Aid Headquarters then based at 'Holmlands' which was then part of Preston Hospital. Doris was in No 2 first aid post.

The raid was carried out by Luftflotte 2 intending to attack the docks, dockyards and industrial installations on the River Tyne down stream from Tynemouth to South Shields. Between 23.20 and 04.26 116 aircraft reached the target area. They dropped 152 tonnes of High Explosive and 50,280 incendiary bombs. Good results were anticipated as there were many fires and explosions. KG53 participated in this attack. I/KG30 and IIKG76 were doing moonlight attacks against shipping on the East Coast. Mine laying was being done by I/KG4. Long range night fighters was being flown offensively by I/NJG2 on the lookout for RAF fighters.

Luftflotte 2 was formed on the 1st February 1939 from Luftwaffengruppenkommando 2 in Braunschweig. On the 15th November 1941 it was ordered to Italy. It was commanded by General Major Hans Seidemann from the 10th October 1940 - 31st July 1942. It was disbanded on the 27th September 1944.

Over 8000 rounds of shells were fired that night, 3,113 were fired by the Tyne Defences.

The following account is from the official War Diary kept by the War Office recording the events day by day of the bombing in the North East.

Among the buildings hit was the Lifeboat Station near the Fish Quay and Preston Institute where the X-ray Department was demolished, and two patients and three male attendants were killed. A police box was destroyed, a first aid and wardens' post damaged, two members of the police reserve, a female ambulance driver and a naval rating [James Phillip Sheridan], lost their lives. An ambulance received a direct hit proceeding from Whitley Bay and trains in sidings at Monkseaton were set on fire. The death roll, thirty-three, included five children of under sixteen years of age. Fifteen people suffered serious injuries and eighty-six were slightly injured.

Tynemouth County Borough reported the death of Doris Ewbank, a civilian ambulance driver for the W.V.S. who died on the 10th April 1941, age 28 [at about 02.57am], in the bombing of the North East.

Doris Ewbank was killed whilst driving an ambulance, by a bomb on the 10th April 1941, which dropped on 'Holmlands', [the First Aid Headquarters], Military Road, North Shields.

She was interned at Whitley Cemetery on Saturday 12th April 1941 at 2 pm.

Whitley Seaside Chronicle and Visitors' Gazette 18/04/1941:

'Late Miss Ewbank

"Pro Patria" send us an appreciation of the late Miss Ewbank, who lost her life recently while on ambulance duty in a North East Coast Town.

Miss Ewbank, he states, was in the teaching profession, and joined the Civil Defence Service in 1939, along with her teacher friend, Miss Fish. They were attached to a first aid post as ambulance drivers, and placed their car at the disposal of the authorities.

They gave at least from four to five nights per week, and were always in the post at every "alert" since the commencement of the war.

Miss Ewbank was not of the strongest type, but made up for this by her courage and desire to help others.

When the call came she did not hesitate but took her car and party to the scene of operations with other members of the Civil Defences.

It was here she was killed, truly in the front line, with a comrade, Edward [William] Sutton, awaiting orders to go to the assistance of unfortunate people.

The funeral was a tribute, from all the services, Army, Navy and Civil Defence.

'Not once or twice in our rough island story, The paths of duty lead but to glory'.

In the notices section in the same edition is this:

EWBANK - Mrs Ewbank to return thanks for (?) and letters of sympathy, received during her recent bereavement.'

Evening Chronicle - Friday 10/04/1942

'In Memoriam
Ewbank. In loving and treasured memory of my beloved daughter Doris, who gave her life for others, April 10, 1941. To know her was to love her.

Evening Chronicle - Wednesday 10/04/1946

Ewbank Treasured memories of my dearest only child, Doris, who gave her life April 10, 1941. To know her was to love her. Mother.

Northumberland Aviation Diary: Aviation Incidents from 1790-1999 ; Derek Walton; Norav Publications; 1999; ISBN 0 9536189 0 0 reports the direct hit and states that attendant Edward William Sutton died as well.

The W.V.S. Roll of Honour for 1939-45 includes the following:

"Doris Ewbank, Ambulance Driver who was killed on duty on 10th April 1941 while driving her ambulance."

The Whitley Seaside Chronicle & Visitors' Gazette 07/06/1940 carried a report of a Benefactress volunteering her car to be an ambulance. This is likely to have been Doris Ewbank.

Acknowledgments: Angela Conroy

Research : James Pasby

Doris Ewbank is remembered at Backworth on B1.04, in Monkseaton on M15.02, M15.07, and in Whitley Bay on W84.01, W84.05, W84.09 and W84.17 page 16.

The W.V.S. Roll of Honour
For a Full account of the Bombing raid
The CWGC entry for Miss Ewbank

If you know more about this person, please send the details to janet@newmp.org.uk