commando veterans association commando dagger
[Recent Topics] Recent Topics   [Groups] Back to home page  [Register] Register /  [Login] Login 
Lcpl John Lang, 11 Commando  XML
Forum Index » Looking for Information Individuals
Author Message
Dave Waite
Forum Member

Joined: 20/08/2019 23:17:30
Messages: 4
Offline

Good morning. Does anyone have information about lcpl John Lang? He was a former student of Brigg Grammar school (now Sir John Nelthorpe school) in Brigg, Lincs.
While at school he lived with his grandparents, and regularly played table tennis in a room above the pub owned by a classmate. I have read Ian McHarg's 'Litani River' which refers to his death in 1941, and Ian was kind enough to share his source as being the book written by Geoffrey Keyes' sister.
The school would like to create a permanent display about John Lang and other WW2 casualties in time for the VE Day anniversary next year. If anyone can add to his story, especially if there is a picture, we would be extremely grateful.
Many thanks.
NIC
Forum Member
[Avatar]

Joined: 10/04/2007 22:56:27
Messages: 3239
Location: Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire
Offline


Hi Dave,

Welcome to the Website & Forums and thank you for contacting us.
We have very little on L/Cpl John Lang other than his full service number and parent regiment - which I suspect you already know if you've been in contact with Ian McHarg.
Unfortunately, we don't have any photos of John Lang that we know of - there are photos in the No.11 Cdo Album in the Gallery of commandos whom we haven't been able to name/identify...

The only thing I can offer is a link to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website and their record of John Lang - I do like the inscription on his gravestone...

https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2188461/lang,-john/

I applaud Sir John Nelthorpe School intentions of creating a permanent display to commemorate John Lang and all the other alumni who fell in WWII - thank you.

May I also ask, if you do manage to find a photo of L/Cpl John Lang, would we be able to have a copy so we upload it to our unique Gallery where he can be remembered among his colleagues, brothers-in arms and friends...

Nick

Nick Collins,

Commando Association Archivist & Photographer.

Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


[Email]
Dave Waite
Forum Member

Joined: 20/08/2019 23:17:30
Messages: 4
Offline

Many thanks for your swift response Nick. We will keep looking. We have school photos from the time, but unfortunately not named. He'll be in there somewhere, but one of nearly a hundred. Hopefully we can find relatives still living locally.
NIC
Forum Member
[Avatar]

Joined: 10/04/2007 22:56:27
Messages: 3239
Location: Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire
Offline


Hi Dave,
Do you have any information regarding John's parents, James and Mary Watt Stirling Lang?
Or his stepmother?
Or why he was living with his grandparents?

Nick

Nick Collins,

Commando Association Archivist & Photographer.

Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


[Email]
NIC
Forum Member
[Avatar]

Joined: 10/04/2007 22:56:27
Messages: 3239
Location: Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire
Offline


Hi Dave,

Working on the information on John Lang's CWGC record, I have made contact with a historical group in Mount Kembla, New South Wales to see if I could get any info on John's father & stepmother...

We've been able to find that James and Charlotte Lang were living in Kembla from 1939 as they appear in that year's electoral roll as living on 20 Cordeaux Road Mt Kembla, James is listed as a shiftman, They are absent on the 1936 electoral roll. In the 1944 Electoral roll they are living at 22 James Street Mt Kembla. James however dies at his home by July 1944 (parents listed as John and Jean Lang in NSW Births Deaths and Marriages index), leaving his second wife Charlotte and a daughter behind. The newspaper lists him as a deputy at Mt Kembla Mine.
Charlotte Douglas Lang died 1969, in Parramatta, her parents listed as John and Mary. I had no luck finding a birth record for Charlotte or marriage record for Charlotte and John on NSW BDM index.



Nick
[Thumb - James Lang.jpg]
 Filename James Lang.jpg [Disk] Download
 Description Notice from South Coast Times 27th July 1944
 Filesize 59 Kbytes
 Downloaded:  141 time(s)


Nick Collins,

Commando Association Archivist & Photographer.

Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


[Email]
GUY
Forum Member

Joined: 26/05/2012 17:50:52
Messages: 289
Offline

Nick

James LANG born 1881 Kilmaronock, Dumbarton. Parents John and Jean Martin LANG (nee. Whyte)
Employed as a colliery oversman

Marrried :

Mary Watt Stirling FORREST Age 33 (Born 1884 Drymen, Stirling)
1st January 1918 Elmwood, Drymen, Stirling.

John LANG born 1921 Lochgelly, Fife

Mary Watt Stirling LANG died in Lochgelly, Fife in 1922 Age 38

Guy

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 24/08/2019 13:05:31

NIC
Forum Member
[Avatar]

Joined: 10/04/2007 22:56:27
Messages: 3239
Location: Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire
Offline



Dave,

Things have progressed - the members of the Mount Kembla group have been very helpful and I have found out that John Lang has a nephew living in Australia.
I am in the process of trying to contact him - but I doubt if he has anything to add...
However, I was clutching at straws when I contacted the Mt Kemble group and they gave me enough to build a family tree and a timeline - hope it is of use to you...

Nick
 Filename John LANG_Timeline.pdf [Disk] Download
 Description
 Filesize 80 Kbytes
 Downloaded:  157 time(s)

 Filename John Lang family tree..pdf [Disk] Download
 Description
 Filesize 40 Kbytes
 Downloaded:  144 time(s)


Nick Collins,

Commando Association Archivist & Photographer.

Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


[Email]
NIC
Forum Member
[Avatar]

Joined: 10/04/2007 22:56:27
Messages: 3239
Location: Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire
Offline

Hi Guy,

Thanks for that information which ties in with what I've been given.

Many thanks,

Nick

Nick Collins,

Commando Association Archivist & Photographer.

Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


[Email]
NIC
Forum Member
[Avatar]

Joined: 10/04/2007 22:56:27
Messages: 3239
Location: Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire
Offline

Hi Dave,

A newspaper clipping for you

Nick
[Thumb - John Lang.Obit notice.jpg]
 Filename John Lang.Obit notice.jpg [Disk] Download
 Description
 Filesize 101 Kbytes
 Downloaded:  145 time(s)

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 24/08/2019 00:50:48


Nick Collins,

Commando Association Archivist & Photographer.

Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


[Email]
Dave Waite
Forum Member

Joined: 20/08/2019 23:17:30
Messages: 4
Offline

Wow! Thanks Nic and Guy for all your work, which helps to explain John's circumstances as a child. If there is a relative in Australia that would be fantastic, since there doesn't seem to be any family in this area. It's such a shame that I missed the chance to contact his sister. The Scottish connection clears up my confusion over why he ended up in 11 Commando.

I have spent some time reading through the school magazines for John's time at Brigg Grammar. There is quite a lot of information, but since you have added so much to his family background it seems only right to add it here to help build the picture.

John started at Brigg Grammar in September 1929, making him aged 8. This was the same year that his sister and future stepmother emigrated to Australia. Tong is a reasonably common name in this area: I can't find any trace of Charlotte's birth, but there are a number of candidates for James' grandparents. Other boys who started at the same time included Thomas Kell, who drowned while serving with the RAF in Calcutta, and John Sykes, killed in action soon after D-Day serving with the East Yorks.

In November 1929 the school had a visit from Field Marshal Sir William Robertson, Chief of the Imperial General staff at the end of WW1 and the first soldier to rise from private to Field Marshal. The magazine describes his visit as the greatest day in the school's history.

On sports day 1931 John won the Div. E high jump, clearing 3' 7". The following year he came second in the Div D high jump.

By 1933 John had learnt to swim in the school pool (outdoors and unheated, so good preparation for his time with the Commandos!). He managed 3 lengths, which was noted as an achievement when 60% of the boys couldn't swim at all. Also on the list was John Tierney, who managed half a mile. After sharing the same pool, Lang and Tierney now share the same cemetery at Sidon. (Tierney was a gunner in the Essex Yeomanry, dying in July 1942). Lang also came second in the junior 'Neat Dive' and won the 'Long Plunge'.

By July 1935 John Lang had joined the school scout troop, 2nd Brigg. He was in Wolf patrol. The patrol leader was James Barber, who would be shot down and killed by Italian fighters during an air raid on Tobruk in June 1940. In the swimming competition that year Lang came 3rd in the senior Neat Dive, and was placed 3rd in the high jump at sports day.

In July 1936 there is a note that his house (Ancholme) struggled in the swimming relay because they were without Lang for three of the four races. Illness perhaps?

March 1937 saw Lang playing the character 'General Mustachio' in a school play. The review describes his character as 'inarticulate', possibly deliberately so. By the summer he is described as a strong swimmer, instructing the other boys. He also won the shot putt on sports day with a distance of 32' 3".

In the summer of 1938 John was swimming and athletics captain for Ancholme House. He won the shot putt again, with a new record of 35' 8" and came 2nd in the 3 lengths swimming race. He is listed in December of 1938 as having passed the Cambridge School Certificate. Confusingly this is also recorded for December 1939, where it also adds that he received the School Certificate of Special Merit.

In the April 1939 magazine there is a report from the 2nd Brigg scout troop noting the loss of Patrol Leaders G Longbottom and J Lang and Second P King, who left at the end of last term. All three would be dead within four years; Lang at the Litani River in June 1941, George Longbottom shot down in January 1943 flying a Spitfire in Tunisia and Peter King shot down in a Lancaster raid over Berlin in November the same year.

The magazine for July 1940 lists a large number of former pupils serving in the military. John Lang is recorded as being in the Notts SRY (Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry). This was a cavalry unit, still equipped with horses, and was a popular choice for the Briggensians. The information must have been out of date though, because the SRY were not present at Dunkirk. Perhaps he signed on with the yeomanry and was then transferred to Royal Armoured Corps when it became clear that tanks were of more use than horses when facing the Germans.

The final reference to John before his death comes in December 1940 where he is again listed among former pupils serving in the armed forces, but unusually there is no regiment alongside the name. It says that he visited the school in the autumn term, which must have been in a period of leave from the training camp on Arran.

John's death is recorded very briefly in 1941, with the simple comment that he had been killed in Crete. I assume that it took some time for the true details to emerge. He was the ninth former pupil to die (some in action, some by accident) and the magazine commented that the war had been going on for two years now, with no end in sight. There is a sense that they were trying to carry on as normal, because it was too painful to dwell on those who had fallen. In the following years another 41 names would be added to the memorial.





NIC
Forum Member
[Avatar]

Joined: 10/04/2007 22:56:27
Messages: 3239
Location: Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire
Offline

Hi Dave,

Thank you for sharing your information with us...

I do have some good news - I have made contact with John Lang's nephew - Gordon, the son of Elizabeth (Ella) Leven...
He tells me that he has a fair bit of information regarding his late uncle and seems happy to share it with us.

May I share what you have told us with him?
Do you want me to pass your email address to him?

Nick

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 26/08/2019 21:32:23


Nick Collins,

Commando Association Archivist & Photographer.

Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


[Email]
Dave Waite
Forum Member

Joined: 20/08/2019 23:17:30
Messages: 4
Offline

That's fantastic news Nic, thanks for all your work. By all means share what I have posted about John's time at school, and my email address. Hopefully we will be able to add to your archive.
NIC
Forum Member
[Avatar]

Joined: 10/04/2007 22:56:27
Messages: 3239
Location: Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire
Offline


Hi Dave,

I have more news - Gordon actually has an older brother, John Leven, who has all the information on John Lang...
I sent Gordon all the info you sent and he is delighted and has passed it on to his brother...

Getting exciting now...

Nick

Nick Collins,

Commando Association Archivist & Photographer.

Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


[Email]
NIC
Forum Member
[Avatar]

Joined: 10/04/2007 22:56:27
Messages: 3239
Location: Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire
Offline


This has been a fascinating thread not least because, having tracked down Gordon Leven - the nephew of John Lang - he revealed he has an older brother, who has photos and documents of John Lang...
The older brother, John Leven, then got in touch and told us there was a younger sister too...

Dave Waite's initial query on the forum and my searches and findings have reignited an interest in John Lang for his nephews and niece.

We now have photos of John - one when he was at school and another of him, in civvies walking with his aunt in Bridlington, when he was probably on leave from the Army...

In turn, I have hunted down a photo of John Lang's grave in Sidon War Cemetery in The Lebanese Republic .

Dave Waite now has information and images which should him to identify John Lang on some of the many team photos the school has, and for the School to add John Lang to the exhibition to commemorate its alumni who fell during the War

Thanks to everyone involved in this one...

Nick
[Thumb - john lang.Swimming trunks.jpg]
 Filename john lang.Swimming trunks.jpg [Disk] Download
 Description
 Filesize 123 Kbytes
 Downloaded:  130 time(s)

[Thumb - John Lang.cdo.jpg]
 Filename John Lang.cdo.jpg [Disk] Download
 Description
 Filesize 111 Kbytes
 Downloaded:  151 time(s)


Nick Collins,

Commando Association Archivist & Photographer.

Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


[Email]
Belly
Forum Member
[Avatar]

Joined: 27/12/2010 20:58:21
Messages: 222
Location: Cheshire
Offline

What a great thread this turned out to be, a real credit to all the contributors. Some of you may recall I've been researching Sergeant Kenneth Harwood Burton, 404001, of the Royal Armoured Corps (RAC) and 11 Cdo, who was also sadly killed in action during Operation Exporter. See the thread here:
http://forum.commandoveterans.org/cdoForum/posts/list/5355.page

It is likely that Burton and Lang fought alongside each other, as it says in Ian McHarg's excellent Litani River:

"As they approached they informed him that Sgt Burton, LCpl Lang and Cohen were all dead on the river bank to the left, and that several of the Troop were wounded. According to Trooper Norman Wilkinson, who was severely wounded, Ike Cohen the Section first aid man saw that Burton was hit and went to try and help him. Wilkinson later reported that: Burton told him to, ?Stay where he was,? but not Ike, he crawled over and both were killed together."

I was particularly moved to see that you'd managed to source a photograph of Lang's and Cohen' graves at the Sidon War Cemetery, and as a result I've now also managed to source Burton's too. Steve Rogers of The War Graves Photographic Project https://www.twgpp.org/ has kindly given permission for it to be uploaded here for posterity. I'd also managed to find a wider shot of the original plot in the Bergouliye War Cemetery which I've also shared below.

Nick, I'd really appreciate it if you could possible ask John's nephew Gordon to enquire if they have any further information/photos, a long shot I know, but I'd love to finally put a face to Burton's name once and for all.

Regards
Paul

[Thumb - BurtonSmall.jpg]
 Filename BurtonSmall.jpg [Disk] Download
 Description
 Filesize 209 Kbytes
 Downloaded:  140 time(s)

[Thumb - LITANI GRAVEYARD.jpg]
 Filename LITANI GRAVEYARD.jpg [Disk] Download
 Description
 Filesize 99 Kbytes
 Downloaded:  136 time(s)

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 05/09/2019 19:41:20


Army Commando: Setting Europe ablaze since 1940

Collector of Army Commando Insignia & Memorabilia - desperately looking for printed shoulder titles
[WWW]
 
Forum Index » Looking for Information Individuals
Go to:   
©Commando Veterans Archive 2006 - 2016. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, all content on this site is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Powered by JForum 2.1.8 © JForum Team
commando dagger