Gunner John Francis Newnham

Thank you to Lenka Cathersides for the following research.

John Francis Newnham Birth Registration Transcription © findmypast.co.uk
John Francis Newnham Birth Registration Transcription © findmypast.co.uk

John Francis Newnham was born either in the 3rd quarter of 1896 in the Registration District of Dorking or on the 10th June 1896 in Broadmoor, Wotton, Surrey, according to the England and Wales births 1837-2006 transcription or the WW1 Naval Casualties Transcription respectively. He was born to coachman and school attendance officer Jesse Newnham and his wife Elizabeth Newnham.

John Francis’s father Jesse Newnham was born on the 27th of April 1869 in Wivelsfield, Hardware Heath in Sussex to railway labourer Alfred Newnham, born about 1829 in Wivelsfield, Sussex, and Ann/Anne Newnham, born about 1834 in Seaford, Sussex. Jesse was baptised on the 27th of June 1869 in Wivelsfield, Sussex. At the time of the 1881 Census, he was working as an under gardener.

Jesse Newnham married, by mutual consent, Elizabeth either on the 30th or 31st of August 1889 in Galashiels, Scotland. Elizabeth was born about 1873 in Bengeo, Hertfordshire, England.

John Francis Newnham had 8 siblings: Alfred Edward Victor born in the 4th quarter of 1894 in Aldershot, Hampshire; Jesse born in the 1st quarter of 1899 in Wotton, Surrey; Noel Herbert born in the 1st quarter of 1901 in Wotton, Surrey; Harold Percy born on the 10th of February 1903 in Lindfield, Sussex; William Eward born on the 25th of February 1905 in Lindfield, Sussex; Mary born in the 3rd quarter of 1907 in Lindfield, Sussex; May born on the 9th of May 1910 in Linfield, Sussex and Harry born on the 15th of May 1912 in Linfield, Sussex.

Prior to the 1891 Census, Jesse was part of the Royal Sussex Regiment.

At the time of the 1891 Census, Jesse was a soldier of the Army Service Corps stationed at Aldershot, Surrey. His regimental number was 1937. He was discharged in 1899.

John Francis Newnham 1901 Census © ancestry.co.uk
John Francis Newnham 1901 Census © ancestry.co.uk

At the time of the 1901 Census, the family lived at Broadmoor, Wotton, Dorking, Surrey. Jesse was working as a coachman and Elizabeth was looking after their children: Albert Edward Victor, John Francis, Jesse and Noel Herbert.

John Francis Newnham 1911 Census © ancestry.co.uk
John Francis Newnham 1911 Census © ancestry.co.uk

At the time of the 1911 Census, the family lived at 1 Laburnum Villas, Compton Road, Lindfield, Sussex. Jesse was working as a school attendance officer and Elizabeth was looking after their children: gardeners Albert Edward Victor and John Francis and scholars Jesse, Noel Herbert, Harold Percy, William Eward, Mary and May. Elizabeth stated that she had given birth to eight children. The accommodation had five rooms.

John Francis’s brother Albert Edward Victor Newnham died of wounds on the 16th of October 1914 in France. He was a private of the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Sussex Regiment. His regimental number was: L/10100. He is buried at the City of Paris Cemetery Pantin.

46 years old Jesse Newnham re-enlisted on the 7th of August 1915 in Chichester, Sussex. He became part of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, the West Riding Divisional Hospital. His regimental number was SE/11666 and he was a [horse] keeper. Jesse stated that at the time of the re-enlistment he was working as a school attendance officer and lived at 1 Laburnum Villas, Compton Road, Lindfield, Haywards Heath, Sussex. Later, the family moved to Earlsmere, Compton Road, Lindfield, Haywards Heath, Sussex. Jesse was over 5feet tall and had blue eyes. He also had a slight varicocele defect. On the 9th of March 1916 he became a Paid Lance Sergeant. Jesse was discharged on the 15th of April 1918.

John Francis Newnham became part of the Royal Marine Artillery. He was a gunman with a regimental number RMA/13608. He served on the HMS Tiger.

John Francis Newnham Deaths At Sea © findmypast.co.uk
John Francis Newnham Deaths At Sea © findmypast.co.uk

John Francis Newnham died in an action on the 31st of May 1916 during the Battle of Jutland on HMS Tiger. The ship was badly damaged after being hit 10 times. He was killed when a shell hit the trunk of ‘B’ turret of the ship.

John Francis Newnham Roll of Honour © CWGC.org.uk
John Francis Newnham Roll of Honour © CWGC.org.uk
John Francis Newnham Portsmouth Memorial © CWGC.org.uk
John Francis Newnham Portsmouth Memorial © CWGC.org.uk

He was buried at sea and is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial in England on the panel reference 21.

John Francis Newnham Medal Roll © findmypast.co.uk
John Francis Newnham Medal Roll © findmypast.co.uk

John Francis Newnham was awarded the British War and Victory medals and the 1915 Star.

John Francis Newnham Death Notice © findmypast.co.uk
John Francis Newnham Death Notice © findmypast.co.uk

According to the Sussex Agricultural Express, John Francis had written home the day before being killed, saying that he should be home on June the 7th.

John Francis’s brother Noel Herbert Newnham died on the 9th of July 1917 on HMS Vanguard. He was part of the Royal Marine Artillery and had a rank of bugler. His regimental number was RMA/14935. He was killed by an internal explosion of the vessel at Scapa Flow. He was 16 years old.

HMS Vanguard was anchored in Scapa Flow. At 11.20PM the entire ship was destroyed in an instant by an internal explosion. Ships in the neighbourhood were showered with wreckage and human remains. Only 3 out of 845 men on board survived. The inquiry attributed the tragedy to the internal explosion of faulty cordite in an ammunition storage area.


Jesse Newnham of Earlsmere, Compton Road, Linfield, Sussex died on the 13th of May 1934. He left to his wife Elizabeth £603 in probate.

All three brothers are also commemorated on the Linfield Parish Memorial.

Born                            Broadmoor, Dorking

Son of                          Jesse and Elizabeth Newnham of Erlsmere, Compton Road, Lindfield, Haywards Heath, Sussex

Regiment                     Royal Marine Artillery. H.M.S. Tiger
Number                        RMA/13608

Date of Death              31st May 1916
Place of Death             At Sea
Cause of Death            Killed in Action

Age                              19

Memorial                      Portsmouth Naval Memorial