Sidney George Newman was born and raised in Chelmsford. He served in the army and was killed in action in February 1917. His home was in Moulsham Street.
Sidney was born in Chelmsford on 3rd December 1889, the son of George Edwin Newman and Rose Newman. Sidney’s father had been born in Braughing, Hertfordshire in 1867; his mother in Chelmsford c1866. George’s father, then unmarried, had been living in Mildmay Road, Chelmsford in 1881.
Sidney’s six siblings, born in Chelmsford, included Alice Newman (1886-1895). Charles Edward Newman (1893-1899), Lillie Rose Newman (born in 1895), Edith Maud Newman (born in 1900) and Frederick Newman (born c1904). A sixth sibling also died by 1911.
The 1891 census found one year-old Sidney living with his parents and elder sister at 5 Marriage’s Square, Chelmsford. His father was an ostler groom.
A decade later the 1901 census recorded 11 year-old Sidney at 9 Victoria Square, Chelmsford with his family and a boarder. His father was still employed as an ostler groom.
In 1911 the census found Sidney’s mother and siblings Edith and Frederick living at Maypole House in Writtle.
His father died in July 1914, aged 46. He was buried at Chelmsford Borough Cemetery in Writtle Road on 18th July 1914, the burial register giving his ‘usual abode’ as the Chelmsford Union Workhouse (later the site of St. John’s Hospital). His profession was recorded as coachman.
Sidney lived and enlisted at Chelmsford. He served as Private G/19955 in the 7th (Service) Battalion of The Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment). The battalion, part of the New Armies, had been formed in Guildford, Surrey in September 1914, and was attached to 37th Brigade of the 12th (Eastern) Division
The battalion participated in the Battle of the Somme. On 22nd February 1917 it entered the trenches relieving the 8th Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment between Grandcourt and Petit-Miraumont and over the ext few days they advance eastwards towards Irles.
Sidney was killed in action on 27th February 1917. On that day the battalion’s B Company was ordered to attempt to push into the village of Irles from the direction of Petit-Miraumont, assisted in part by a platoon from D Company. The battalion diary for that day reported:
“At 7.15 a.m. a report was received from the officer in command of D Company: that the strong point at [map reference] G 31 b 28 had been taken and that another platoon was being sent up to support it and enable the party to push on. At 8.45 a.m. another report was received from officer in command of D Company: stating that the platoon sent in support had been unable to reach the trench at G 31 b 21 on account of machine gun fire from south-west. of IRLES. No report was received from officer in command of B Company during the day and touch was only gained with him at dusk. He then reported that he had only been able to get about 100 yards into IRLES before the leading line was met with machine gun fire from the W. of the village and east from
NEWMAN, SIDNEY GEORGE,
Private, 7th (Service) Battalion, The Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment)
GREVILLERS TRENCH. There was also rifle fire in the village. HIs second line reinforced his leading men and endeavoured to establish a position. Bomb, rifle and Lewis gun fighting ensued, This lasted for a bout an hour and a half. 2/Lieuts H. W. VAUGHAN and P. E. THORN, the two leading platoon commanders, were both wounded in the fighting. Captain J.M. DU BUISSON deciding that he could not establish a suitable or useful position in the village, then withdrew his Company to the line of the ditch south of IRLES. He made repeated efforts to get runners back with messages throughout the day but in every case the runner was shot in the first few yards of his journey. At dusk (about 6 p.m.) the officer in command of D Company pushed a patrol up to the trench at G 31.b. 21. to see if touch could be gained with his platoon which had occupied the strong point in the morning. This patrol reported that, on reaching a point about G 21.b 25 machine gun fire was opened on them from a strong point at G 31.b.28. No sign could be seen of anyone in the platoon. 2nd Lieutenant H. J. A’BEAR, commanding the right platoon of D Company: in the DITCH at about G 31 d 4555 reports that he saw about 20 Germans advance into the open at about G 31 b 44 at 8 a.m. and caught them with Lewis Gun and rifle fire, killing most of them and stopping their advance, They were seemingly making for the trench running North and South in which the strong point at G 31 b 28 is situated. The battalion was relieved in the positions which it originally occupied by dark by the 8th Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment. The relief was expeditiously carried out and was complete by 10.40.”
The battalion then moved into reserve in Zollern Trench. The battalion’s total casualties during the entire operation were two officers wounded and two missing; ten other ranks killed and 48 wounded; and eight wounded and missing and a further 41 missing.
Today Sidney lies at Adanac Military Cemetery, Miraumont, Somme in France (grave: III. G. 4), north-east of Albert. The cemetery, whose name is derived from reversing the word ‘Canada’, was created after the war by bringing in graves from the area surrounding Miraumont and Courcelette.
On 23rd March 1917 the Essex County Chronicle reported:
“Pt. S. G. Newman, Queen’s (R. West Surrey Regt.), of 59 Moulsham Street, Chelmsford, son of the late Mr. G. E. Newman, and of Mrs. R. Newman, was killed in action on Feb. 24.”
Sidney is commemorated on the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford, and the Moulsham Parish Memorial, St. John’s Church, Moulsham.
On 22nd February 1918 the Essex County Chronicle included the following in memoriam notice:
“Newman. - In ever loving memory of Sidney George Newman, killed in action Feb. 24, 1917. From his sorrowing Mother, Sisters, and Brothers, 59 Moulsham Street, Chelmsford.
A year has passed, our hearts still sore; As time goes on, we miss him more; No soldier more true and kind A more beautiful memory left behind.”
The 1918 register of electors listed Sidney’s mother at 59 Moulsham Street (now demolished).