Rifleman, Rifle Brigade, 2nd Bn.
Service no. S/15670
Missing in action on 23 October 1916, aged about 26
Remembered at Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France
Chris Burge writes:
Arthur John Newman’s origins were in north London. He was born in Highgate, the third child of Alfred and Mary Elizabeth Newman (nee ????), and baptised at St John Holloway in Islington, on 20 April 1890; his older brother Alfred Edward was baptised on 6 January 1884 at the Archway Road Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, and his sister Edith Charlotte was baptised 16 October 1887 at St John Holloway, Islington. The family were living in Kentish Town at the time of the 1891 census and had moved to Pimlico by the time of the 1901 census. Arthur’s brother Alfred Edward was married in 1905 and set up home in Kent.
By the time of the 1911 census, Arthur, Edith and their parents had moved to south London and were living at 19A Goldborough Road, off Wandsworth Road. Arthur‘s father was now 51 and his mother 50 and had been married 28 years. Arthur was working as a clerk, and both his parents and Edith were employed as office cleaners. The Newmans lived in four rooms of a sub-divided property that housed another family of six living in three other rooms.
Fragments of Arthur’s service papers have survived and show that he volunteered under Lord Derby’s Group Scheme on 4 December 1915, attesting at the Lambeth recruitment centre. He was not called up until 15 February 1916 and was processed at Whitehall, when he was posted to the 6th Battalion of the Rifle Brigade, a reserve battalion who were based at Eastchurch on the Isle of Sheppey, off the northern coast of Kent. On 14 June 1916, after four months of basic training, Private S/15670 Newman was sent to France in a draft of men destined for the 2nd Battalion. He reached the front on 9 July 1916. The keeper of the battalion’s war diary noted on 11 July that a draft of one officer and 50 other ranks reported for duty and were posted to C and D companies.
Arthur Newman joined the battalion when it was in billets after moving north from the Somme to the Loos sector. Several periods of trench duty in the Hohenzollern sector followed during the rest of July, August and September. By mid-October the battalion had returned to the Somme and took part, in deteriorating weather and ground conditions, in a divisional attack during the final stages of the offensive. Their assault on enemy position near Le Transloy on 23 October resulted in a loss of eight officers either killed or wounded and 230 other ranks killed, wounded or missing. Arthur was reported missing and his next of kin informed within a few weeks. In August 1917, ten months later, Arthur’s family were informed that he was officially presumed to have died on, or since, 23 October 1916.
After the end of the war it was Arthur’s father Alfred who completed Army Form W5080 which listed the relatives of a deceased soldier in order that he could receive his son’s medals, plaque and scroll. Alfred took it to All Saints Church, XXXXXXXXX, to be witnessed and countersigned on 30 May 1919.
Arthur’s parents were still living at 19A Goldsborough Road when the Stockwell War Memorial was unveiled in 1922.