Born: 29th March 1886, Ipswich.

Died: 1st January 1915; age 30; KiA with submarine in the English Channel.

E.A.D.T. – Monday, 11th January 1915 – Mrs. Newson, of 16, Bond Street, Ipswich, has had a note from the Admiralty to say that her son, William John Newson, who was an A.B. on H.M.S. Formidable, is reported missing. A covering note from the King expressing his and Her Majesty’s sympathy was enclosed. A memorial service was held in St. Michael’s Church (at which church William Newson was a regular communicant when at home) on Thursday evening at the same time as the official service was being held at Chatham.

Residence: 16, Bond Street, Ipswich.

Occupation: Painter.

Enlistment Location: Chatham. Signed up for 12 years – 29th March 1904. Height on joining 5ft 1 1/4ins, at 18 years 5ft 6ins, fresh complexion, blue eyes & brown hair. Tattoo – Skeleton and a heart pierced by an arrow on the left forearm.



Ganges – Boy 2nd Class – 3rd July 1901

Ganges – Boy 1st Class/Signaller – 17th April 1902 – 29th July 1902

Pembroke I – Boy 1st Class/Signaller – 30th July 1902

Pembroke I – Boy 1st Class – 14th November 1902 – 18th November 1902

Thrush – Boy 1st Class – 19th November 1902 – 3rd March 1903

Gibraltar – Boy 1st Class – 4th March 1903 – 1st June 1903

Partridge – Boy 1st Class – 2nd June 1903

Partridge – Ordinary Seaman – 29th March 1904 – 30th November 1904

Simoom – Ordinary Seaman – 1st December 1904 – 14th February 1905

Pembroke – Ordinary Seaman – 15th February 1905 – 14th June 1905

Aboukir – Ordinary Seaman – 15th June 1905 – 16th March 1906

Black Prince – Ordinary Seaman – 17th March 1906

Black Prince – Able Seaman – 13th September 1906 – 30th March 1908

Pembroke – Able Seaman – 31st March 1908 – 19th May 1908

Wildfire – Able Seaman – 20th May 1908 – 30th June 1908

Pembroke I – Able Seaman – 1st July 1908 – 22nd December 1908

Irresistible – Able Seaman – 23rd December – 1908 – 1st June 1910

Pembroke I – Able Seaman – 2nd June 1910 – 8th June 1910

Caesar – Able Seaman – 9th June 1910 – 31st March 1911

Formidable – Able Seaman – 1st April 1911 – 1st January 1915.


Rank: Able Seaman; Service Number: 215509

Regiment: Royal Navy, H.M.S. ‘Formidable’.


Memorial Reference:


Chatham Naval Memorial,



Relatives Notified & Address: Eldest son of Charles Munro Newson & Louisa Newson, of 16, Bond Street, Ipswich.




1891   27, East Street, Ipswich.


William was 7 years old and living with his parents & siblings.

Charles Munro Newson, 30, a Boot Assistant, born Ipswich.

Louisa Newson (nee Sheppard), 33, born Harwich, Essex.

Henry Charles Newson, 5, born Ipswich.

Maud Rebecca Newson, 3, born Ipswich.


1901   16, Bond Street, Ipswich.


William was 17, a Coach Painter. He was living with his parents & siblings.

Charles, 40, a Labourer.

Louisa, 43.

Maud, 13.

Joseph Edward Newson, 8, born Ipswich.

Daisy Florence Newson, 5, born Ipswich.


1911   Devonport.


William was 25 years old, an Able Seaman on board H.M.S. Caesar, a 1st Class Battleship – Home Fleet, 3rd Division.


William’s parents, Charles and Louisa Newson, adopted baby Frederick Charles Bardwell Mills, born 4th December 1903, Chapel Street, Woodbridge, Suffolk. Frederick was the illegitimate son of Edith Mills, the daughter of Charles’s sister, Melody Mills (nee Newson).


William is also remembered on the war memorial at St. Michael’s Church, Ipswich.


1st January 1915
H.M.S. ‘Formidable’. Pre-dreadnought class battleships. Launched in November 1998 and finished September 1901.
1914 Formidable served in the English Channel, based at Sheerness to guard against a possible German invasion, she covered the crossing of the British Expeditionary Force to France.
On the 31st December, the squadron was conducting training exercises off the Isle of Portland in the English Channel, when the German submarine U-24 torpedoed her at 02:20hrs, striking her on the starboard side abreast of the forward funnel. A second torpedo was fired at 03:05hrs hitting her in the starboard side close to her bow.
Heavy seas made it very difficult to rescue the crew. At 04:45hrs she began to capsize and sink.
It is estimated that 547 of the crew perished, 157 men were saved by military and civilian craft.
Three other Ipswich men were killed:

Petty Officer ALBERT EDWARD PIPE aged 31.
Registered 100, Dover Road, Ipswich.

Ship’s Corporal 1st Class THOMAS HENRY CROXSON aged 46.
Registered 29, Surrey Road, Ipswich.

Stoker First Class WILLIAM JOHN PORTER aged 21.
Registered 27, Sirdar Road, Bramford Road, Ipswich.

In 1915 The Suffolk Chronicle & Mercury newspaper reported Petty Officer Albert James Snell of Ipswich was saved.

H.M.S. ‘Formidable’


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