Orton, Newell (Fanny)

Age: 26
Date of birth: 25th August 1915

Parents: Gordon and Eleanor Mary Orton nee Chick
Wife: Helen Jean Orton of Echt, Aberdeenshire
Address: 56 Bridge End, Warwick

Occupation: Newell was enlisted in the Royal Air Force from 1935 as Aircraftman 2nd Class.

Newell was the only son of Gordon (1886-1945) and Eleanor Orton (nee Chick 1881-1946). The couple had married in 1910 in Marylebone, London. At the time, Gordon was a Butler and Eleanor was a “ladies maid to Russian princess.” Newell’s father Gordon went on to serve the Royal Flying Corps in WWI.

Newell was born in 1915 and his sister Joan followed in 1919.

In Q3 1938 Newell married Helen Jean Eddie (1915-1980) at Sleaford in Lincolnshire. The couple had a son, David Newell Orton (1939-2012). At this time his parents were living at Bridge End in Warwick and Newell’s father had founded G Orton and Company of Emscote Road, Warwick.

The 1939 census shows Newell’s parents, still at Bridge End, residing with two lodgers who are described as “Civil Servants – Estate Surveyors.” Gordon is described as an Electrical Engineer.

Whilst at home, recovering from being shot down in a Hurricane and then being mistakenly shot at by French soldiers, Newell gave a talk to the Spitfire Fund Raising Committee, which was reported in the Warwick Advertiser

Newell is commemorated on the Runnymead Memorial

Newell’s father died in 1945 – at the time he was living in Lillington Road, Leamington Spa and his mother Eleanor died a year later in 1946. We know from her probate record that she left her estate to her daughter Joan, who by then was married to Harold Bertram Robinson. Joan died in Ufton near Leamington Spa in 1989.

Newell’s wife, Helen died in 1980 at the age of 65. She did not remarry. Their son, David, died in 2012, having followed his father into the RAF.



Military Service

Rank & Number: Squadron Leader, 39330
Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force
Brigade/Division: 54 Squadron
Date of death: 17th September 1941
Cause of death/Battle: Killed in action - he failed to return from a mission across the English Channel.
Commemorated/Buried: Commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, Surrey. Panel 28
Commemorated locally at:

With his Hurricane 1939

Newell was enlisted in the Royal Air Force from 1935 as Aircraftman 2nd Class. He gained his commission in 1936 and was promoted to Flying Officer in 1940.

During the early part of the war Newell was with 73rd Squadron of Hurricanes assigned to the airfield at Rouvres-en-Woëvre in Eastern France, close to the German border, as part of the Advanced Air Striking Force.

He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) in 1940 after shooting down two Messerschmitt 109’s while he was wounded and his plane had been hit four times. The citation speaks of his ‘skill and determination in a number of combats’.

By May 1940 he had shot down five aircraft, but on 15th he had to bale out of his blazing Hurricane. He landed in a tree and French soldiers, thinking he was a German pilot, shot at him and injured him further. On June 18th, in the face of the German ‘blitzkrieg’ advance into France, the squadron had to retreat back to Britain.

After recovering back home, he was given command of No. 54 Squadron flying Spitfires. On September 17th 1941, at the age of twenty-four, Squadron Leader Orton failed to return from a mission across the Channel. By then, ‘Fanny’ Orton was regarded as a ‘Flying Ace’, having been credited with 17 enemy aircraft destroyed, 8 ‘probables’ and 4 damaged.

You can read more of Newell’s story and see further photographs, as well as reading about our search for Newell’s relatives, on behalf of French historian Francoise Clauvelin, by following these links:




  • Unlocking Warwick Research Group
  • Warwick Advertiser excerpt courtesy of Warwickshire County Record Office
  • Photographs and additional information courtesy of Francois Clauvelin

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