Noble Family of Claypole
Frank Noble was born 1886. He married Catherine Emma Dickinson, in Elsecar (near Barnsley) on 21 May 1913. They had 3 sons: William Gershom (born 17 Jul 1914), Jeffrey (born 2 Jan 1916) and Ralph (born 29 Nov 1917). They lived at 20 Doncaster Road, Darfield, near Barnsley, where Frank worked as a pipe fitter.
On 24 Feb 1916 Frank volunteered for the Royal Artillery (Royal Garrison Artillery) but he wasn’t called up immediately (transferred to reserve the next day).
He was called up on 16 Feb 18 and sent to the Signals Depot Winchester, where he qualified as a signaler. He was sent to France in August. In Jun 1919 he joined 32 Brigade but was then transferred to the Royal Engineers, where he joined the divisional signals company of the Midland Division in the Rhine Army. Sapper Noble was discharged in Oct 1919.
Ralph Nobel was born 29 Nov 1917 in Darfield, near Barnsley. He was the youngest son and only 3 months old when his father* was called up to fight in WW1.
In the late 1930s Ralph lived at Gordon Villa, Claypole and was employed by the Cooperative Society, first at Newark and then in Lincoln. He was a member of the Claypole church choir and the Newark Operatic Society. He enlisted in the Territorial Army during the 1938 Munich crisis.
He served in 60th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, probably in 237 Battery at the Old Barracks in Lincoln (now the Museum of Lincolnshire Life). The unit was mobilized on 1st September 1939, the day Hitler invaded Poland. The Regiment moved to Bordon, Hampshire then left for France on 1 Jan 1940, where they were initially based at Bois Grenier, near Armentieres. In May they moved into Belgium when the Germans invaded. 237 Battery went into action along the canal leading from Ypres to Comines. Along with most of the Regiment, Ralph was evacuated from Dunkirk. During the Battle of Britain they defended part of the South coast with rifles as their 18-pounder guns had been destroyed. Ralph was last home at Christmas 1940. The Regiment were re-equipped with 18/25 pounder guns and left for the Middle East in Jan 1941, arriving in Egypt in April after sailing around the Cape.
They went into action in Iraq almost immediately. A small force of less than 2000 men was assembled, supported by 300 Bedouin tribesmen of the Arab Legion and an assortment of obsolete RAF aircraft. Eight guns from 237 Battery took part in the capture of Fallujah. Eventually the Iraqi rebels asked for an armistice, the pro-German Prime Minister fled and the pro-British Regent was restored.
At the time Syria was under the control of the Vichy French and was supposed to be neutral, but German and Italian aircraft had been using airfields there to attack Iraq. So after the Iraq campaign, the British and Arab force turned to Syria. It was hoped that the French would only offer token resistance as the force advanced towards Palmyra, but attacks on an outlying fort gave them warning and the Vichy air force attacked on 21st June. The British had no air cover and the few Bofors guns they possessed had been left behind. 237 Battery was under constant air attack. Ralph was amongst those who died that day, he was 22.
His father had already died and his mother was now living in Mexborough.
See also Newsreel video of the end of the Syria campaign, late June/Jul 1941 (no sound): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPyCBVTPeEA
The William Noble on the Claypole war memorial may be Ralph’s elder brother, William Gershom Noble.
William was born in Darfield on 17 Jul 1914. He enlisted in the RAF in Jan 1931 to train as an instrument maker at RAF Cranwell. He wife Marjorie Joyce Noble lived at Maltby, so the only connection with Claypole may be his brother Ralph.
William was commissioned and trained as a bomber pilot. On the night of Monday 20th October 1941 he was flying an Avro Manchester Mk1 of 97 Sqn. They took off from RAF Coningsby at 18.30 to bomb the railway yards in Bremen. They reported bombing the target but on the way back (at 00.30 Tuesday morning) they called to say they had trouble with the wireless equipment. Nothing more was heard until the bodies of 2 of the crew were washed up on the Norfolk coast. William was 27; his body was not found and he is recorded on the Runnymede Memorial.
Note: The Avro Manchester was an unsuccessful aircraft, mostly because of its 2 unreliable and under-powered engines. When re-designed with 4 Merlin engines it was re-named the Lancaster.