© Avening Parish Council 2023
“Preserve, Conserve, Enhance”
12 George Newman
Private: Royal Army Medical Corps
Attached to 108th Heavy Battery Unit, RGA
The National Archives Records show George named as Horace Jesse George Newman, indeed, he
was baptised as such in Holy Cross Church on Sunday the 29th of November 1892. The Parish
Register quotes his birth date as Thursday the 29th of September, some eight weeks earlier.
However, he always referred to himself as George and the Army recognised him as such.
He was the eldest son of eight children (he had five brothers and two sisters), born to George
William Newman (1865-1905) and Cecilia Ann née Fletcher (1872-1924). George's Newman
grandfather was born in Cherington in 1832, his father being Richard Newman, born Southrop
around 1793. George's mother Cecilia was of solid Avening stock. Her father John Fletcher (1835-
1909) married Ann Ind on the 27th of August 1857 at Holy Cross Church. Both maternal ancestors
can be traced back a further four generations in Avening. All of George's male ancestors appear to
have been agricultural labourers. In the 1901 census George, aged 8, is listed with his family living
on Old Hill.
Unfortunately, there are no records available on George's military service except that we must
assume that he was in the Royal Army Medical Corps prior to the outbreak of war as the Medal Rolls
tell us that he embarked for France on the 18th of August 1914, only 14 days after war was
As a member of the RAMC he could have been serving in a hospital at home or overseas, as a
stretcher-bearer anywhere on the front or, as is likely in his case, on attachment to a fighting unit to
supply immediate medical assistance when needed.
We know that in February 1916 he was attached to the 108th Heavy Battery Unit of the Royal
Garrison Artillery, serving in the Ypres area. The role of the 108th was shelling enemy positions,
particularly their artillery sites and heavy gun battles developed frequently. Although set back from
our own front line, this did not make them immune from attack.
We do not know exactly what happened on the fateful day of Sunday the 20th of February 1916 but
George was killed along with three others on the 108th Battery. All four men were buried side by
side in Railway Chateau Cemetery a few kilometres from Ypres town centre. The Commonwealth
War Graves Commission tend the cemetery and their website has a photograph on which can be
clearly seen the four graves.
George received, posthumously, the Victory Medal, the British Medal and the 1914 Star. He was 23
years old when he died and was unmarried. I thank his niece, Peggy Chappell of Woodstock for her
assistance and for the photograph of George in his army uniform.