CWGC Living Memory Project

Private Joseph Newby of the 19th Battalion DLI died on the 29th July 10916 as a result of wounds received at the Battle of the Somme. He is buried in Mere Knolls Cemetery, Sunderland. He was born in February 1890 and lived with his family in Monkwearmouth. His father was John, a labourer, and his mother was Hannah.



The 1891 census shows the family living at 29 Hardwicke Street, Monkwearmouth Shore. They are sharing the house with three other families. Joseph is 3 years old and has 3 older siblings, John aged 13, Alice aged 10 and Margaret aged 5. The 1901 census shows they have moved to 40 Society Lane, Monkwearmouth and Joseph now has 2 younger siblings; James and Mark. Sometime in 1904 John Snr died. In 1911 they are still living at 40 Society Lane, Joseph is 23 years old and is a ship builder’s labourer.

After war was declared Joseph signed up, attesting on the 2nd March 1915. He was assigned to the 19th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry. Interestingly this was a Bantam Battalion; it had been created in March 1915 and they assembled in West Hartlepool before moving to Cocken Hall with more than 1,000 men in May. In June they moved again to Masham in North Yorkshire, as part of the 106th Brigade of the newly-formed 35th Division. Joseph qualified for the Bantam Battalion as he was only 5 foot 1 inch tall. While he was in training he seems to have got into some trouble as his record shows him being fined for not returning to barracks when he should several times. He’s even confined to barracks for 5 days on 26th January 1916 for defacing Government property! This must have been when they were on Salisbury Plain as that was their last training location. The 19 DLI sailed from Southampton on 31 January 1916.

On 1 July 1916, the 19th Battalion moved south by rail to join the Somme battle. They were located in trenches near Longueval however their main role was digging communication and reserve trenches. Despite this the heavy shelling in the area resulted in many casualties. On the 18th July 1916 Joesph was wounded. He spent some time in army stations and hospitals in France but on 23rd July 1916 he was sent back to England.

He arrived at Poor Law Hospital, Stepping Hill, Hazel Grove, near Stockport (an auxiliary military hospital) on 27th July 1916. His war records include the medical details from the hospital and they make for harrowing reading. I have included it in full as I was not comfortable putting it in my own words. The actual facts are all that is needed. I managed to decipher most of the handwriting, written by DR Collingwood-Fenwick the Resident Medical Officer, where I was unsure I have left a gap.

“The above was admitted on the 27th July to this hospital suffering from a shrapnel wound over …………… aspect of right shoulder blade, shrapnel wound of right wrist, which had caused a severe compound comminuted fracture of both radius and ulna just above the joint and a shrapnel wound of the right knee.

In addition there was a condition of septic cellulitis on the area of wound in the back which gradually extended downwards to mid-dorsal region.

x Immediately on admission owing to his great pain he received a hypodermic injection of sulphate of morphine 8 and an eighth and was seen in consultation by Doctor Howie Smith, the visiting medical officer, and Dr Collingwood-Fenwick the resident medical officer to this institution. Placed on the Danger List and friends informed he passed a restless night.

On 28.7 he was seen by Captain Raynes …………., Dr Howie Smith and Dr Collingwood-Fenwick – a free incision and further drainage of the area affected was decided upon and the operation was performed 12.30 by Dr Raynes …………………

The patient recovered from the effects of the anaesthetic but gradually sank, passing away at 10.30pm from septicaemia due to bullet wound received in France on active service. “

Rest in Peace Joseph Newby.


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