Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

The New family was one of several for whom Rudmore and the area around it represented home for at least three generations. The 1841 Census records William and Ann New living at Rudmore Place with a large family which included Alfred, the grandfather of Thomas New. In 1881 Alfred and his wife Fanny were living outside Rudmore at Kettering Terrace with their three eldest boys but by 1891 had moved to 2 Stamshaw Road where three more sons, including Frederick, Thomas's father, and a daughter were born.
By 1901 Frederick and his wife Jane, whom he had married in 1898, had moved to 23 Cherry Garden Lane with 2 year old Thomas. Ten years later in 1911 they had moved back closer to the centre of the extended New family at 35 Tipner Street.
Thomas New enlisted at the outbreak of war in August 1914 despite being only 16 years of age. Unlike many of his contemporaries who volunteered in the first wave and were of a similar age, Thomas, after initial training, was sent to the Western Front in May 1916. He would have experienced his first taste of battle very soon after arriving but survived unscathed until July 1916 when he was wounded fighting on the Somme. On recovering he re-joined his unit which was sent to Italy. He stayed there about a year before returning to France where he was killed on September 4th 1918. He must have been buried in a temporary grave as at the time his final resting place, Wytschaete, was in the possession of the Germans. The allies retook it on 28th September and moved those in temporary burial sites to the cemetery.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists Lance Corporal Thomas New, (3/4117), died on 04/09/1918, aged 20 years, 15th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment. He is buried at Wytschaete Military Cemetery (Grave Ref:IV.B.10.). Son of Fred and Jane New, of 35, Tipnor St., Stamshaw, Portsmouth.
Thomas New is remembered on the St. John the Baptist Church WW1 memorial. The memorial was transferred to St. Agatha's Church, Market Way when St. John's* was declared redundant in 1980. Also remembered on the Cenotaph and in the National Roll, Vol. X, p165. Thomas's cousin William New is also listed amongst the dead of World War 1.
Tim Backhouse
January 2014

*St. John the Baptist's Church was on Simpson Road, just north of the junction between Twyford Avenue and the Rudmore roundabout. It was converted to private accommodation.