yeovil at War

Arthur Henry Newman

Died of wounds while serving with the Balkan Expeditionary Force

 

Arthur Henry Newman was born in Yeovil during 1884. He was the son of leather dresser George Newman (1844-1914) and Jane née King (1844-1918). George and Jane had three children; George (b1869), Bessie (b1876) and Arthur and in the 1891 census the family were listed living in Newtown - which at this time meant today's Eastland Road.

The family were listed at 14 Kiddles Lane (another name for today's Eastland Road) in the following 1901 census. 19-year old Arthur gave his occupation as a printer's machinist.

In the 1911 census George and Jane, together with Bessie and Arthur were living at 27 Newtown. Arthur gave his occupation as a printer although it is known that he later worked in Yeovil as an insurance salesman.

In the summer of 1914 George Newman died and Arthur carried on living with his widowed mother and unmarried sister.

Arthur enlisted at Yeovil towards the end of 1915. He was a Gunner in the 134th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery. His Service Number was 64687.

Siege Batteries of the Royal Garrison Artillery were equipped with heavy howitzers, sending large calibre high explosive shells in high trajectory, plunging fire. A Siege Battery would include five officers and 177 other ranks, 17 riding horses, 6 draught horses and 80 heavy draught horses. The transport comprised three two-horse carts and ten four-horse wagons. The usual armaments were 6 inch, 8 inch and 9.2 inch howitzers, although some had huge railway- or road-mounted 12 inch howitzers. As British artillery tactics developed, the Siege Batteries were most often employed in destroying or neutralising the enemy artillery, as well as putting destructive fire down on strongpoints, dumps, store, roads and railways behind enemy lines. 

The 134th Siege Battery was first deployed overseas in August 1916, when it was sent to Salonika to join the Balkan Expeditionary Force, also known as the Salonika Force.

The Salonika Force had been dug-in until the summer of 1916, by which time the international force had been reinforced and joined by Serbian, Russian and Italian units. The Bulgarian attempt at invasion of Greece in July was repulsed near Lake Doiran. At the beginning of October 1916, the British in co-operation with her allies on other parts of the front, began operations on the River Struma towards Serres. The campaign was successful with the capture of the Rupell Pass and advances to within a few miles of Serres.

During 1917 there was comparatively little activity on the British part of the front in Macedonia, due in part to complex political changes in Greece throughout the year. The main fighting took place on the Doiran Front, around Lake Doiran, where the line was adjusted several times by each side early in the year. In April 1917, the British attacked, gained a considerable amount of ground and resisted strong counter-attacks.

Arthur was fatally wounded during this fighting and died of his wounds on 9 April 1917. He was 34 years old. In its edition of 20 April 1917, the Western Gazette reported "The sad news has been received by Mrs Newman, of Eastland Road, that her youngest son Gunner AH Newman, of the Royal Garrison Artillery, serving with the Balkan Expeditionary Force, has died of wounds on April 9th. The deceased soldier who was 34 years of age, enlisted about 18 months ago, and had been on active service in the Balkans, since August 1916. He was very much liked by all who knew him, he having been a member of the Congregational Church choir. Prior to enlisting he was an insurance agent. Much sympathy is felt for his relatives."

Arthur was buried in Sarigol Military Cemetery, Kriston, Greece, Grave B218, and his name is recorded on the War Memorial in the Borough.

 

gallery

 

A 9.2 inch howitzer Mk I as used by Siege Batteries of the Royal Garrison Artillery. The camouflaged box in front of the gun is known as a dirt box, which was filled with soil and attached to the gun to act as a counterweight to the force of the blast and keep the gun in position.

 

A Bulgarian telephone station with trench periscope observing the enemy's position at the Doiran Front, March 1917

 

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission certificate in memory of Arthur Newman.

 

Sarigal Military Cemetery, Kriston, Greece

From April to June 1917, the 35th Casualty Clearing Station was at Sarigol. It was replaced by the 21st Stationary Hospital, which remained until December 1918. From these two hospitals, 150 burials were made in the cemetery, many of them men who had been wounded in the Allied attack on the Grand-Couronne and Pip Ridge in April-May 1917, and September 1918. In February 1921, 560 graves were brought into Sarigol from Janes Military Cemetery, a few miles to the north, and serving the same front. The cemetery at Janes was on low ground, and, under the normal conditions of this region, it was found difficult to approach and almost impossible to maintain in good order. With a few exceptions, the burials were made from 31st Casualty Clearing Station between August 1916 and October 1918. Sarigol Military Cemetery now contains 682 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and 29 war graves of other nationalities.