Private Thomas Newton, 22598 / 5487, 1/5th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales Own)
Thomas Newton was born in Leeds in the December quarter of 1878, the son of Darlington born tanner Christopher Newton and Sarah Ann (nee Powlett) who had married in Darlington on the 22nd December 1867. The Newtons had a large family of eleven children and Thomas was the sixth child to be born.
Christopher Newton and his family moved around the UK and the children were born in different locations as follows: Edward b. 1868 Darlington; William b. 1870 Doncaster; George b. 1872 Newcastle; Arthur b. 1874 Darlington; Annie b.1876 Leeds; Thomas b. 1878 Leeds; John Robert b. 1881 Cardiff; twins Jane and Joseph, b. 1883 Cardiff Edith b. 1886 Bradford and Anice b. 1888 in Bradford.
Sarah Ann Newton and six of her children, including Thomas were living in Canton Workhouse, Cardiff circa 1883/84, but Christopher Newton was not in the workhouse with them, suggesting he was working elsewhere and the family had fallen on hard times.
Christopher Newton died at the early age of 42 in Bradford, leaving a wife and ten living children. The Newton family moved to Ossett at this time and by 1891 were living on Dewsbury Road, Ossett and William Newton was married with a young daughter. It is likely that William Newton, a coal miner, moved to Ossett first and after the death of his father, the rest of the Newton family moved and stayed in Ossett.
On the 14th August 1897, 18 year-old coal miner Thomas Newton married 17 year-old South Ossett girl Christiana Howden at Holy Trinity Church, Ossett.
By 1901 Thomas and his new wife Christiana were living at Barracks, Middlestown with two daughters Anice born in South Ossett on the 3rd November 1897, aged 3 years and Nellie, born in Ossett on the 4th August 1899 aged 1 year. Living with them is Thomas's 48 year-old widowed mother Sarah Ann Newton. Thomas and Christiana went on to have another five children: Lily b. 1901; Violet b. 1907; Kathleen b. 1910; Louisa b. 1913 and Colin b. 1914.
By 1911, Thomas Newton and his family had moved to live at 18, Alma Street, Wombwell, Barnsley where Thomas is working as a coal miner. There are five living children and two have died. Living with them is Thomas's widowed brother-in-law Wilson Moody, who had married Thomas's sister Annie Newton in Earlsheaton back in 1896. Sadly, Annie died in 1902. We will come across Wilson Moody again later in this biography.
Above: Thomas Newtons's marriage certificate
Thomas Newton's WW1 service record has not survived, but he enlisted in Dewsbury in December 1914 and was given the service number of 20582, K.O.Y.L.I. He was transferred to the 1st Garrison Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment on or around the 6th August 1915 (upon its formation) and was allotted his new service number 22598. The 1st Garrison Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment was stationed in Malta throughout the war. These types of battalions were manned by men evidently fit enough for rather sedate empire garrison duties, but not for active front-line service.
Thomas Newton must have gained sufficient fitness/capability and based on his service number of 5487, he was posted to France and the 1/5th Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment in August 1916. The 1/5th Battalion, Prince of Wales's Own (West Yorkshire Regiment), was part of the 146th (1/1st West Riding) Brigade and 49th (West Riding) Division.
On the 3rd September 1916, the 146th Infantry Brigade was involved in heavy fighting in an attempt to take Thiepval from the Germans with men being sent to both sides of the river Ancre. The attempt to take Thiepval proved to be a disappointing failure with heavy casualties. Newton's 1/5th Battalion suffered casualties to six officers and 103 other ranks. In fact, 30 other ranks were killed and 73 were wounded. There were no casualties recorded, despite heavy enemy shelling in the afternoon, on the 5th September 1916 when the battalion was resting all day in Martinsart Woods after marching there the night before.
However, the "Dewsbury Reporter" for Saturday, 16th September 1916 had this obituary for Thomas Newton:
"THORNHILL EDGE SOLDIER FALLS - We regret to report the death from wounds of Private Thomas Newton of the West Yorks Regiment, whose home was 84, Ward's Yard, Thornhill Edge. The deceased was 38 years of age, and a Barnsley Man, coming into this district several years ago. He worked as a miner at Hartley Bank, Horbury. Having served one year and eight months in the Army, eleven months of which were spent in Malta and five in France, he had his leg shattered by a shell on September 5th. He was brought to a casualty clearing station, and the leg was amputated, but he died the same day. A widow and seven children are left."
Above: Men of the West Yorkshire Regiment during WW1.
Private Thomas Newton, aged 41 years, husband of C. Newton, of 84, Wards Yard, Thornhill Edge, near Dewsbury, Yorks died from wounds on the 5th September 1916, just a few weeks after his posting to France. He was buried at Doullens Communal Cemetery Extension No.1. Doullens is a town in the Department of the Somme, approximately 30 kilometres north of Amiens on the N25 road to Arras. The Communal Cemetery and Extensions lie on the eastern side of the town, about 270 metres south-east of the road to Arras.
He was awarded the British War and Victory Medals posthumously, but not the 1914/1915 Star, despite his wife applying for the latter medal. Although he likely served overseas before 1916, this would have been in Malta in the 1st Garrison Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment. Men who served overseas before 1916, but not in a theatre of war were not entitled to the 1914/1915 Star.
After Private Thomas Newton's death in September 1916, his widow Christiana married Thomas's widowed brother-in-law Wilson Moody on the 20th December 1916 in Dewsbury. The couple went on to have three more children: Thomas b. 22nd June 1917; Averil b. 23rd April 1919 and Mona b. 15th August 1924.
1. Great War Forum - October 2023
2. War Diary of the 1/5th Battalion, (Prince of Wales Own), West Yorkshire Regiment at the National Archives
3. Ancestry Family Trees for Thomas Newton.
4. "Dewsbury Reporter" 16th September 1916