Don Theobald
The story of a Suffolk boxer, who died in the Second World War, has been highlighted in a new magazine, The Old Timer.
Don Theobald from Sudbury was killed in summer, 1940, in an explosion in the Bay of Biscay, which claimed the lives of more than 4,000 servicemen.
Don, who was born in Sudbury, in July, 1913, and lived all his life in the town, was the only son of Herbert and Lydia Theobald, who also had four daughters.

Miles Templeton, who edits The Old Timer, came across Don’s name while researching boxing in East Anglia during the 1930s.
In his article he writes: “One of the names that continually caught my eye was Don Theobald of Sudbury. I noticed his last contest took place just before the Second World War. I telephoned all the Theobalds living in Sudbury and on the sixth call I found myself talking to Jim Theobald, Don’s cousin. Thanks to him and other members of the family, I can now tell Don’s tale.”
Boxing boomed in the 1930s, with important contests in Suffolk staged at the baths hall in Ipswich, but promotions also took place in small towns and villages.

Don’s father encouraged him in his career and in 1937 Herbert took out a British Boxing Board of Control licence. Records are far from perfect and the first contest of Don’s that could be traced was in 1932. There was a gap until 1935 when his career really got going.
He won contests in Chelmsford, Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich and Colchester. Two opponents with whom he had frequent clashes were Buster Wilsher (Chelmsford) and Herbie Beckett (Ipswich).

One contest took place in King’s Lynn. As The Old Timer records, Don and Herbert travelled up by horse and cart, sleeping rough in fields along the route.

Don’s last fight took place a month before war was declared, when he beat Soldier Jim Green in the ninth round at Bury Corn Exchange.
He died, aged 26, less than a year later. A military policeman, serving with the British Expeditionary Force, he was being evacuated from St. Nazaire on the Lancastria when it was hit by bombs from a Junkers 88. His name is on the Dunkirk and Great Cornard war memorials.

With acknowledgements to Miles Templeton at
Pride as Sudbury Lancastria hero is honoured after 68 years
Published Date: 21 August 2008