Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

In 1908 Benjamin James Newell left the family home at 24 River Street and enlisted in the 2nd Battalion of the Dorsetshire Regiment, leaving behind his parents Benjamin snr. and Jane and three siblings.
The year after he joined up Benjamin James's father died leaving his mother Jane to fend for herself and her children which she seems to have done by opening a general shop. She had been born in Manchester in 1863 and in 1886 had married Benjamin Newell who had been born in Portsmouth in 1856.
The whereabouts of Jane and Benjamin at the time of the 1891 census is unknown but by 1901 they were living at 38 Nile Street, Portsmouth. With them were their children, Benjamin James (b. 1889), Jane (b. 1894), Albert (b. 1897), Ernest (b. 1899) and Elsie (b. 1900). A further child, Arthur, was born 1904. Benjamin snr. was at the time employed as a general labourer.
At the outbreak of the Great War Benjamin James and the Dorsets were stationed at Wanowrie Lines, Poona in India under the command of Major-General Charles Townshend. On October 18th 1914 the regiment embarked from Bombay with instructions to sail for Bahrain and await Turkey's expected entry into the war. This duly occured on November 5th and the regiment sailed for Kharag Island to play their part in the Mesopotamian Campaign.
Hostilities against the Turks continued until the following November when the decision was made to capture Baghdad. The 2nd Dorsets were the only British contingent in what was mainly an Indian force that confronted the Turks at the Battle of Ctesiphon, south of Baghdad, which took place between 22nd and 24th of November and ended in disaster. One of those killed in the action was Benjamin James Newell.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) lists Private Benjamin James Newell (8223), 2nd Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment, died on 22/11/1915, aged 26 years. Remembered on the Basra Memorial (Panel 22 and 63). Son of Jane Newell, of 44, Amelia St., Landport, Portsmouth, and the late Benjamin Charles Newell.
Benjamin Newell is also remembered on the WW1 Memorial at St. John's RC Cathedral and on the Cenotaph. He is listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War', Section X, p165.
See for an account of the 2nd Dorsets during the Mesopotamian Campaign.
Tim Backhouse
April 2014