> For our French Speaking Friends >
David was born in Richmond,
Surrey in 1916. His mother died when he
was 3 years old and his grandmother subsequently brought him up. David was
educated at the Academy of
Scotland in Edinburgh and later at Marlborough
David at Radio Normandy
His first job was with a shipping company but he was
attracted by a newspaper advertisement for presenters on Radio Normandy. He was
accepted and started in Fecamp in December
in the company of David Davies, J.
Fellows, H. Gee and J. Sullivan.
As there was a David Newman already employed with the IBC
(International Broadcasting Company) who held the franchise for English
Broadcasts, he became Ian Newman. In 1938 the studios were moved to their
new location in Caudebec, but this was
short-lived as the War spelled the end for Radio Normandy together
with the many stations operated by the IBC.
David met his wife Genevieve while in France
where they were married in January 1939. Unfortunately due to problems in
obtaining a visa he had to leave her with her sister in Normandy when he returned to the UK; they were eventually reunited in
time for David to be called up.
He joined the Royal Navy and in due course was put in charge of
a flotilla of MTBs (Motor Torpedo Boats). He was
torpedoed twice, once in the cruiser Bon Adventure in the
Mediterranean. David served seven years
in the Service.
After leaving the Navy David joined the Foreign Office in the
Diplomatic Service. He first posting was in Iceland, where he was unable to take
Genevieve, but thence to Lyons,
Poland, South America, Thailand, Tunisia and Spain.
David’s capacity for learning languages was amazing; in each country he
served, he learned the language within 3 months of arrival.
His French was impeccable being once asked by a Frenchman how
he managed to speak English so well, assuming he was French.
Upon his retirement he was employed by the Ministry of Defence
to act as interpreter for ministers and attended many NATO
David was awarded the OBE by the Queen and attended a following
lunch in honour of a South American President, where he acted as
interpreter for the Her Majesty. The Queen said to David afterwards
“haven’t I seen you somewhere before?”
David eventually retired at 80. He remained active taking up
the computer and enjoyed keeping in touch with his old friends in
He was invited to take part in a BBC Radio Four programme in
the Archive Hour series called God, Pirates and the Ovaltineys in which he added his memories of Radio
Normandy. I must also add my gratitude
to him for his help in helping to promote my book on the history of
He died following a short illness in April of this year at the
age of 93. He is survived by his wife Genevieve.
Photo – Keith Wallis - May 8th, 2009
Keith Wallis –Author of ‘And the World
Listened’ – Kelly Books
(With thanks to John Stafford)