Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

William Henry Newman

William Henry Newman : Photograph of Bill by kind permission of Mr Eric Stuffins

Photograph of Bill by kind permission of Mr Eric Stuffins

William Henry Newman : (L to R) British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal

(L to R) British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal

William was born on the 26th December 1889 in Prestwich, Manchester. His father was called Henry and his mother was Martha. He had an older sister called Ethel Maud and 5 younger siblings: Herbert, Amy, Charles Alfred, Henry and John. He was always known as Bill, so this is what we will call him.

Henry senior worked as a labourer for a road concreter. In 1891 the family lived at 6 Clara Street in Miles Platting, Manchester. Ten years later they had moved to 12 Lord Street in the Pendleton area of Salford. Henry died between April and June 1903 at the age of 37.

By 1911 Martha and her children, except Herbert, lived at 1 Earl Terrace, off Broad Street in Pendleton. All the children, except Henry and John who were still at school, had jobs. Bill was a general labourer in a cotton mill. Ethel and Amy also worked in a cotton mill, although we don't know whether it was the same one.

The First World War broke out in August 1914 and Bill joined the Army towards the end of April 1915. He enlisted in the 8th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. This was a unit of the Territorial Force based in Ardwick, Manchester.

The 8th Battalion had been sent overseas at the beginning of the war, so new recruits like Bill were used to form a second 8th Battalion (2/8th). This trained in the UK at Crowborough in Sussex and Colchester in Essex until they were sent overseas to France in February 1917.

The 1/8th Battalion had served in Gallipoli until the end of 1915 and in Egypt until February 1917. They took casualties during this time and from time to time members of the 2/8th would be sent out to them as reinforcements. They arrived in France during March 1917. Unfortunately we don't know which battalion Bill joined.

Also in around March 1917, soldiers serving in units of the Territorial Force were given new service numbers. The 8th Battalion was allocated the range 300001 to 350000. Bill's became 301731. We don't know his old number.

Whichever battalion he joined we don't believe Bill spent long in it once it had arrived in France. At some point during the spring or early summer of 1917 he was transferred to the Labour Corps and given the service number 471404.

We don't know exactly why Bill was transferred but the Labour Corps was made up of soldiers who were not fit or healthy enough to serve on the front line.

Soldiers in the Labour Corps did a wide variety of unglamorous but essential jobs, including constructing buildings and roads, moving supplies, digging trenches or latrines and guarding prisoners of war. Unfortunately we don't know exactly what Bill did or where he served.

The war ended on the 11th November 1918, and Bill will have been demobilised and returned home to 1 Earl Terrace shortly after this.

On New Year's Day 1921 Bill married Emily May Stuffins at St Hilda's Parish Church in Old Trafford, Manchester. They had 2 children; Emily Rose (known as Rose) on the 20th June 1922 and Lilian on the 9th June 1927.

Bill and Emily made their home at 3 Leak Street, off Cornbrook Road in Old Trafford, Manchester. Emily's family had been living in this house since at least 1901, so she had grown up there. The new couple shared the house with Emily's parents. Her mother, Rose Hannah, died in 1930 aged 65. Charles Henry, her father, worked as a railway signalman at the nearby Cornbrook Junction.

When Bill and Emily married he was working as a packer in a warehouse. He continued to work in this field for the rest of his life. In later life he worked as a foreman packer for Khovah Limited. This company was based on Hadfield Street, around 200 yards from Bill's home. The company packed foodstuffs and provisions. This meant that Bill always supplied his extended family with their Christmas puddings!

Emily's older brother Herbert (known as Bert) had joined the 16th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment in March or April 1915 and served with units of that Regiment throughout the First World War. Her younger brother John Henry fought in the Royal Engineers. We don't know whether either of them knew Bill in the Army. Both brothers kept in close touch with their sister and father over the years as their families grew up.

During the Second World War Manchester was bombed by the Germans. Several hundred civilians were killed and thousands injured. In 1940 a German parachute mine landed on 3 Leak Street, but didn't explode. The family had to be evacuated whilst it was removed and their home was repaired. They lived with John Henry and his family at 9 Raven Road in Timperley, Altrincham for around a month.

Bill was a very heavy smoker and died of stomach cancer at 3 Leak Street on the 2nd October 1949. He was 59 years old. Shortly afterwards the family moved to 57 Carlton Street in Old Trafford. The previous tenant here had been Emily's brother Bert.

Charles outlived his son-in-law, dying just over a year later aged 87. Emily lived until 1973, when she died at the age of 77 between July and September.

Neither Rose nor Lilian ever married. Before she retired Rose worked as an office manageress. Lilian was a wages clerk. The two sisters continued to live at 57 Carlton Street for the rest of their lives. Lilian died on the 10th February 1998 aged 76 and Rose died just over a year later on the 8th April 1999. She was 70.

All 4 Newmans are buried in Stretford Cemetery in Manchester. Bill and Emily share a grave, along with other members of the Stuffins family. Rose and Lilian are buried together nearby.

John Henry's son Eric remembers Bill as a 'solid, pleasant man, who got on with things'. His medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in February 2000.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
Heritage Wharf
Ashton-under-Lyne
OL7 0QA

Telephone: 0161 343 2878
Email: Portland.Basin@tameside.gov.uk
Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund logo
Tameside Metropolitan Borough logo
Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund logo
Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council