Chief Inspector Ernest Walter Newark




A biographical sketch by Michael J. Newark



Lance-corporal Ernest Newark

Seaforth Highlanders, World War I


Inspector Ernest Newark, Metropolitan London Police.In 1941 at the time of his decoration for leadership and gallantry


Ernest with his wife Alice (née Lionel) in the

backyard of their home at Leigh on Sea, Essex in 1959.  Photograph by his sister Grace Lottie (Newark) Heath



Ernest began his career as a policeman


Ernest Walter was the son of Charles and Amy Newark, window blind makers, and fifth of a family of nine children.  Ernest served as a lance-corporal with the Seaforth Highlanders in Mesopotamia from 1914 to 1918 fighting against the Turks.  When he was demobilized in 1919, he found that his old prewar job as a ledger clerk was gone, so he applied to join the London Metropolitan Police force. At New Scotland Yard, Sir Charles Ballance, the chief medical officer, turned Ernest's application down.  Reason: Underweight.   He obtained a temporary clerical job and after nine months of civilian life, and the chance to put on some weight after the rigours of his war years, he was finally accepted by the same man.  Five years later he was promoted to Sergeant, and in 1936 he became an Inspector at the City-Road Police Station.  In his early years, particularly during the time he was studying for promotion, he suffered acutely with gastric ulcers and was finally hospitalized for treatment.  His health improved when he was promoted Inspector, and he remained well until his retirement in 1953.



Awarded the British Empire Medal


In 1941 he was awarded the BEM (British Empire Medal) by King George VI for leadership and gallantry after a bomb had fallen on a shelter in September of 1940, when London was experiencing heavy nightly raids by German bombers. The official citation in the London Gazette reads as follows;

"A bomb was dropped near some shelters. With a police rescue party under his command, Inspector Newark quickly restored a situation fraught with grave danger. He organized the work of stretcher parties and, with his men, worked for nearly three hours during a heavy raid.  It was largely due to the Inspector's leadership and organizing ability that one hundred persons trapped in the shelters were rescued."


The Tottenbam and Edmonton Weekly Herald of June 13, 1941 contains this account of his actions;

"Inspector Newark was in charge of the police rescue party when a trench shelter at Downhills Park received a direct hit. He and his men, with the cooperation of civil defence workers rescued a number of injured and distracted people from what was described as worse than the black Hole of Calcutta."

(To see more about this incident go to Summerhill Road –Tottenham and click on the menu item “Downhills Shelter Tragedy- Sep 1940”)


In reference to a separate incident, the report continued,

"On the occasion when a delayed action bomb fell in front of the Jewish Hospital for Incurables, Inspector Newark's promptitude and forethought saved the lives of nearly 100 patients, who were refugees from other parts of London. Realizing the danger that might arise from the bomb. Inspector Newark evacuated the patients and all had been safely removed before the bomb exploded, wrecking a part of the building. These operations were carried out while the raids were at their height."




Interested in Traffic Safety


The Herald article also recalled that following an aircraft crash on a housing estate in Edmonton in September 1938, Inspector Ernest Walter Newark, in charge of the police inquiries, was brought into touch with Mrs. Letch, a widow, whose two sons were among the thirteen victims. Because of his kindness and sympathy, she obtained the permission of the Commissioner of Police for him to accompany her to Buckingham Palace when she received the O.B.E. (Order of the British Empire) awarded posthumously to her sons for their courage in trying to rescue the pilot of the blazing plane. It was as a direct result of Ernest Newark's enquiries and evidence that their heroism could be established beyond doubt.  The same article also contains the following account of his police work;

“ ...Another interesting feature of his duties since he came to Tottenham some four years ago was the part he took in making the children's model traffic centre at Lordship recreation ground more useful.  This centre, equipped with all the road signs and with little vehicles in which children can propel themselves along, created so much national interest that Inspector Newark was called upon to broadcast a description of it.  He was also co-opted member of Tottenham's Safety First Committee."

(To see more about the model traffic center (including pictures) go to Summerhill Road –Tottenham and click on the menu item “Lordship Recreation Ground – Model Traffic Centre”). The British Pathe newsreel archives also contain images of people and activity at the Model Traffic Centre in 1938.  Two of the images (frame numbers 00000060 and 00000100) show Inspector Newark.  To see them enter “Model Traffic Area” in the search box to preview the newsreel entitled “Model Traffic Area No 1” of August 29, 1938.

At Wood Green, he continued his interest in road safety and reducing juvenile delinquency and served as a member of several loca1 road safety committees and of the Wood Green Council of Social Services.



A dedicated policeman promoted to Chief Inspector


Ernest's son Patrick Paul recalls that his father was immensely dedicated to the police and to the principles of integrity which in a perfect world would be held by every police officer.  For example, writes Patrick, “Ernest would never accept even a Christmas gift as it might compromise his position. He also never joined the Freemasons as a number of his colleagues did, and he had not the slightest doubt that but for this he would have achieved earlier promotion and higher rank.  He often helped and advised his men with private problems, and encouraged former wrongdoers who were trying to get their lives straight.”  On October 23, 1943 he was made Chief Inspector in charge of the Wood Green subdivision of "Y" Division.  At the time of his retirement, the Wood Green Observer of April 17, 1953 quotes Ernest as follows; "police work can be done in a correct manner without the use of violence", and he prided himself that never once during his career of over thirty years did he ever have to use his truncheon.  After forty five years of marriage to his wife Alice (née Lionel) which produced two children, Patrick Paul and Sheila Olive, Ernest succumbed to cancer at the age of sixty seven.


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