Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Samuel Newton

Samuel Newton : Photograph of Sam by kind permission of ashtonpals.webs.com

Photograph of Sam by kind permission of ashtonpals.webs.com

Samuel Newton : (L to R) British Empire Medal (Military Division); 1939-45 Star; Atlantic Star; Africa Star with clasp 'North Africa 1942-43'; Pacific Star; 1939-45 Defence Medal; 1939-45 War Medal; Efficiency Medal

(L to R) British Empire Medal (Military Division); 1939-45 Star; Atlantic Star; Africa Star with clasp 'North Africa 1942-43'; Pacific Star; 1939-45 Defence Medal; 1939-45 War Medal; Efficiency Medal

Samuel, or Sam as he was known, was born in on the 4th January 1896 in Queensbury, near Bradford in West Yorkshire. He was named after his father and his mother was called Jane. He was their youngest child and had 2 siblings, Benjamin, or Ben, and Ellen. Ben's medal is also in the Museum of the Manchester Regiment collection.

In 1891 Samuel senior worked as a coal dealer and the family lived at 45 Pottinger Street in Ashton. He also played the euphonium in a number of brass bands, including the Kingston Mills Band, based in nearby Hyde. During the time the family lived in Queensbury Samuel played in the Black Dyke Band.

By 1901 the family had returned to Ashton and lived at 24 Hamilton Street. They lived with Samuel's mother Ellen and sister Mary. Jane was not living with her husband and children; we don't know what had happened to her. Samuel described himself as 'married' not 'widowed' in that year's Census, which suggests she was still alive. He now worked as an engine fitter in an iron works.

By April 1911 Jane had died. In that year Samuel and his children lived at 'Herman Mount', 119 Birch Street in Ashton. They all worked, Samuel was an engine fitter for Scott & Hodgson Ltd, a steam engine manufacturer based in Guide Bridge near Ashton. Ben was a clerk for a brewer, Ellen was a housekeeper and Sam was an apprentice moulder.

Ben joined the 9th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment in January 1911. Sam enlisted a few years later, in 1913 or 1914. This was a unit of the Territorial Force based in Ashton. As a Territorial Sam kept his civilian home and job and trained as a soldier during evenings and weekends. The battalion would also go on an annual training camp, lasting around 2 weeks. We don't know Sam's service number.

Following in their father's footsteps, both brothers played the euphonium. We know Sam played in the Ryecroft Sunday School Band. They also both played in the 9th Battalion Band. Sam was a 'very popular young fellow, both in Ashton and among his Territorial comrades'.

The First World War broke out on the 4th August and the 9th Battalion was called into service. Sam left his job as an apprentice millwright at the National Gas Engine Works on Ashton Moss and reported for duty. The battalion left the UK on the 10th September and arrived in Alexandria, Egypt, on the 25th.

In Egypt the battalion's main roles were to guard the Suez Canal, and to train. In early May 1915 the battalion went to war. They landed in Gallipoli on the 9th and found themselves in the front line after a few days. Sam wrote a letter home on the 25th, telling his family that he had been wounded by shrapnel in the ankle and the right foot. His wound was not serious, and he was being treated aboard a hospital ship.

Before the end of 1915 Sam was invalided home. We don't know why this happened; it could have been because of his shrapnel wound, or for another reason. By January 1916 he was stationed at Heaton Park in Manchester.

On the 3rd December 1918 Sam married Rosina Elizabeth Smith in Bromley, Kent. We don't know whether he was still in the Army at this time. Their daughter Margaret Ellen was born there on the 25th March.

By March 1921 Sam had returned to Ashton and found work as a furnaceman. He rejoined the 9th Battalion on the 31st March and was given the service number 3516127. He also rejoined the Band. He served with the battalion until the 30th March 1924, when he was discharged. His address was 86 Lower King Street in Hurst, Ashton. We don't know what job he had when he wasn't training with the battalion.

Sam must have missed his comrades, because he reenlisted on the 20th February 1925. He was discharged on the 25th October 1930. He reenlisted again on the 28th February 1934.

The Second World War began in early September 1939. Sam was mobilised with the rest of the battalion. A second 9th Battalion (2/9th) had been formed during 1938; we don't know which Sam was assigned to. He was transferred to the 5th (Home Defence) Battalion of the South Wales Borderers on the 29th February 1940. This unit was used to protect areas of South Wales from attack.

Sam's service during the Second World War is a mystery. The 5th (HD) Battalion was disbanded in early 1943.

Sam was awarded the Efficiency Medal at some point before 1952. In this year King George VI died. This medal was awarded for 12 years service in the Territorial Army, although Sam could count service during the war twice. When it was awarded he was serving in a unit of the Royal Artillery and held the rank of Gunner, equivalent to Private.

The Second World War ended in 1945, and the 9th Battalion was disbanded. It was reformed in May 1947 and Sam immediately rejoined. Later he was given a new service number: 22271586. He was promoted to Lance Corporal in mid 1954.

In mid 1955 Sam was recommended for the British Empire Medal for his services to the 9th Battalion. The award was approved and published in the 1956 New Year Honours List. This is his citation:

Lance Corporal Newton joined this unit in 1913 and served throughout the 1914 and 1939-45 wars, he has given 42 years unbroken service. When the TA was reformed, he immediately re-joined.

For many years he has been an outstanding member of the Band and a most regular attender. He has given his time and services unstintingly, in assisting with the administration, the keeping of the music library and any work which required attention.

From 1939 to 1953 he was one of a small number of devoted and loyal bandsmen and was in a large measure responsible for holding together this small number.

He has spent much of his own time outside the unit in obtaining volunteers and has taken a keen interest in recruiting Boys into the Band. His devotion and loyalty, assistance and advice have done much to bring the unit Band to its present strength of 37 members.

He has shown initiative beyond his rank and his cheerful disposition and loyalty have been of the most vital service to this unit.

Sam's comrades were 'exceedingly proud of him'. He went to Buckingham Palace to receive the award, but unfortunately Queen Elizabeth the Second was not able to present it to him personally.

In mid 1958 Sam was medically discharged from the 9th Battalion. He would be 'sorely missed', but his comrades in the Band thanked him for his work.

The rest of Sam's life remains a mystery. We believe he died in Tameside, which includes Ashton, between January and March 1975, aged 79.

Ben also served in the 9th Battalion and in the Band. He saw service in Gallipoli and was discharged in January 1916.

Both brothers' medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in May 1976. We believe Sam was also awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal for his First World War service.

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
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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council