History | Issue | Premium | May 22 2019

Yesterday’s Heroes – the life of the courageous Don Theobald

Miles Templeton uncovers the story of forgotten hero Don Theobald
Don Theobald
Don Theobald Sudbury

SOME years ago, when I was researching 1930s boxing in East Anglia, I came across a boxer by the name of Don Theobald of Sudbury. His last contest took place just before the outbreak of the Second World War and I wondered if the reason that he did not fight again after that was because he did not survive to do so. I searched the Commonwealth War Grave Commission website and, sadly, found his name listed among the dead. I telephoned all of the present-day Theobalds living in Sudbury and on the sixth call I found myself talking to Jim Theobald, Don’s nephew, and thanks to him and other members of the family I can tell Don’s tale. I knew he was a pretty decent boxer, but it was pleasing to find that whilst he died in a shocking tragedy that occurred in the Bay of Biscay in a huge explosion that claimed the lives of over 3,000 servicemen, he died a hero.

One of his sisters, Connie, provided me with some photos of Don, which she sent from her home in the States. In the mid-1930s, Don had started to make a name for himself in the rings around the various market towns in Suffolk and Essex, where he won contests in such places as Chelmsford, Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich and Colchester.

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