A hundred years ago today the 1st Battalion the Somerset Light Infantry fought at Le Cateau in one of the opening battles of the First World War. 7995 Private William John Newman of the 1st Battalion The Somerset Light Infantry was killed during the fighting.
This morning, Private Newman’s relatives gathered in the temporary exhibition gallery at The Museum of Somerset to donate his medals to the collection of the Somerset Military Museum.
William John Newman was born in Milton Clevedon. He later moved with his family to Batcombe where he worked as a farm labourer. At the outbreak of the First World War Private Newman was a regular army soldier in the 1st Battalion The Somerset Light Infantry. The battalion formed part of the British Expeditionary Force who deployed to France soon after war began.
The fighting at Le Cateau was intense. Over 60 members of the battalion were killed. Many more were wounded or taken prisoner as the battalion defended their positions against wave after wave of German attacks. Private Newman was killed in action during the fighting. He was 26 years old.
Private Newman is remembered on the Le Ferte-Sous-Jouarre Memorial. The La Ferté-sous-Jouarre Memorial commemorates 3,740 officers and men of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) who fell at the Battles of Mons, Le Cateau, the Marne and the Aisne between the end of August and early October 1914 and have no known graves.