Winser, David Michael De Rueda
He was the eldest son of Commander Alfred Michael Winser RN and Elizabeth Marjorie Winser (née Routh), of Hampstead, London. After his mother died in childbirth, his father re-married, his step-mother being Mrs F.A. Winser of 32 Brookvale Road, Southampton.
Winser was born at Plymouth. He came to Morshead’s as an Exhibitioner from the Old Hall School, Wellington. After one term he succeeded to a vacancy in College, where he distinguished himself by the immense variety of his activities and interests. He won the King’s Gold Medal for English Verse, as well as the Leslie Hunter Prize, and rowed in the school IV for two years (1932-1933), but it was at shooting that he most excelled. He shot in the Bisley VIII for two years (1932-1933; he captained the team and was in the winning Cadet Pair in 1930-1931.
After his last Cloister Time he went to Canada with a team of cadets and created a record at the Dominion Rifle Association Annual Meeting by scoring a ‘possible’ at all ranges in the qualifying round, and defeating the best marksmen of Canada.
He went up to Oxford in October 1933 as a Scholar of Corpus Christi, and scored similar successes there, shooting for the Oxford VIII in 1934, and rowing for Oxford in 1935, 1936 and in the winning boat in 1937 when Oxford beat Cambridge by three lengths. He won the Newdigate Prize for English Verse with a piece called Rain in 1936. He also wrote a novel, “A Gay Goodnight”, published by Longmans. After a Second in “Greats”, and an adventurous journey down the Danube alone in a canoe, he went to Yale as a Commonwealth Fund Fellow. There he began to read Physiology, and becoming interested in child welfare, decided to take a full medical course as a necessary preliminary to any serious work in this subject.
The war found him a medical student at Charing Cross Hospital and after a fruitless attempt to join the RAF, he had to remain there to finish his course before he could take an active part in the war. To escape the worst of the London Blitz, some of the patients and students at the hospital were evacuated to Hertfordshire but Winser stayed in a ward in the hospital so that he and a few other students could help rescue people from their bombed homes. He was also a Lieutenant in the Home Guard.
He helped to maintain himself by writing books under the pseudonym of “John Stuart Arey”: “Night Work”, about hospital work and a bomb which fell on the Café de Paris in particular, and “There Was No Yesterday”, about family life in Wales. He was also commissioned by Faber to write a novel, called “Students at Queen’s”, to encourage school leavers to take up medicine. He edited the Charing Cross Gazette, and contributed to The Lancet. In Moberly Library there is a copy of “Night Work” which Winser gave to his old OTC commander, Jack W. Parr. In the book there is a hand-written note from Winser, probably written in 1942: “I came to bring you this moderate book, which I wrote. I failed my midwifery of all things. Now I am no doctor till March, and feeling more useless than usual. You were quite right: I should have joined the army. If you are ever in London, we live at 75 Beaufort Mansions, Beaufort Street, SW3. TLA 7052.”
Soon after passing his medical finals, Winser at last did what Parr had advised, and was gazetted to the RAMC. To make up for lost time in getting into the thick of things he volunteered for service with the Commandos, and was attached to 48 Royal Marine Commando. 48 Commando were in camp on Southampton Common, not far from the house which his family were renting at the time, and he managed to call briefly on them.
He went out to Normandy on D-Day and was awarded the MC for gallant work in the early days of the landing. 48 Commando were to land from six landing craft east of St. Aubin-sur Mer, on Nan Red sector of Juno Beach. Dawn on D-Day broke over a grey sky and a rough sea. Enemy fire swept Nan Red, mostly from a German strongpoint on the western edge of St. Aubin. There was chaos on the beach, and the CO of 48 Commando, Colonel Moulton, tried to bring his marines away from the shore-line into the safer assembly area. The day was a disaster for 48 Commando. Casualties were high with the loss of all its troop commanders, over forty men killed, and there were just 223 men available of the five hundred who had left Southampton the day before. None of the Commando’s main objectives had been reached.
The next day the Commando spent the whole day attacking a strong-point at Langgrune. On June 9th, they received their first batch of reinforcements, and joined 46 Royal Marine Commando to attack the German radar station at Douvres.
After a few days at Douvres, they were ordered east across the river Orne to join the British 6th Airborne Division and spent two months in the line north of Sallenelles.
On 26th September they were given the news that they were to be withdrawn to take part in another amphibious landing against the island of Walcheren, which commanded the approaches to the vital harbour of Antwerp.
It was here that Winser was killed, aged twenty-nine on 1st November 1944. He rests in grave 6.B.3 of the Bergen-op-Zoom War Cemetery. He is also commemorated on the 48 Commando memorial at the Royal Marines Museum, Eastney, Portsmouth.
(With grateful thanks to Lieutenant Winser’s sister, Bridget Thompson, for additional information).
- Surname: Winser
- Forenames or initials: David Michael de Rueda
- House: College
- Years in School: 1929-1933
- Rank: Lieutenant
- Regiment: RAMC, attached to 48 Royal Marine Commando
- Date of Birth: 12th March 1915
- Date of Death: 1st November 1944
- How Died: Killed in Action
- Location in War Cloister: Inner F2
- Decoration: MC
- Burial Site: Bergen-op-Zoom War Cemetery: Grave 6.B.3