The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Stephen Guy Newton

NEWTON, Stephen Guy

Stephen Guy Newton was born on the 18th of March 1889 in Chesterfield, Derbyshire to John Vernon Newton and Maude Emma Askew. He was the third born of their four children but the only other son, Vernon Askew, died aged four months in 1884. There were also two daughters, Phyllis and Marjorie. John Newton was a Colliery Agent, later Sales Agent for the Clay Cross Co. Ltd. and was well known on the Sheffield Coal Exchange. The family lived in Sheffield Road, Chesterfield later moving to Queen Street after Maude Newton died in 1895 aged thirty-seven. Her unmarried sister Nellie, who had been living with the family, remained with them after Maude’s death. In September 1907 Stephen Guy was reported in the Derbyshire Courier as having passed his exams in the Principles of Mining and Steam at the Municipal Technical School in Chesterfield. He also attended Worcester College. In the 1911 census, aged twenty-two, he gave his occupation as Traveller and Agent.

He was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant in September 1914 and appointed to the Miners Pioneers Battalion, 12th Battalion of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. He was appointed Captain and Adjutant in May 1915 serving with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force in Egypt until March 1916. The Battalion was then moved to France where Stephen Guy Newton was appointed Major in May of that year. He took part in the First Battle of the Somme which began in July after which he was declared unfit, suffering from concussion and myalgia.

Stephen Guy NewtonIn 1917 he was in command of the Leeds Recruiting Area and in 1918 he was transferred to Lord John French’s staff in Ireland. French, appointed Lord Lieutenant that year, wished to impose conscription in Ireland and presumably Major Newton had shown expertise in that area.

He was put in charge of the Sligo area under the Irish Recruiting Council’s Voluntary Campaign. The plan was abandoned due to widespread and concerted opposition to conscription in the country. Under orders to report in England, Stephen Guy Newton travelled on RMS Leinster on the 10th of October.

He survived the sinking but suffered immersion, contused legs and severe shock and was admitted to Dublin Castle Hospital. He went before a medical board in the King George V Hospital in Dublin on the 26th when these injuries were confirmed.

Stephen Guy NewtonAt the beginning of December 1918, on the basis of these injuries, he made an application to be granted a Wound Stripe and inclusion on the War Office Wounded List. He also inquired if he was entitled to a gratuity for his injuries but his request was denied on all counts. However in June 1919 he was awarded an O.B.E. in the King’s Birthday Honours List for his actions at the Somme.

In July 1915 Stephen Guy Newton had married Maud Forsdike in Sheffield in what the Sheffield Independent described as a “War Wedding” – the bridegroom in khaki, no choral music and no invitations issued, though the ladies’ dresses were quite elaborate. Stephen and Maud had three children, Peter Stuart in 1916, Elizabeth in 1920 and Anthony John in 1923.

In 1929 he was described as a Steel Works Agent. In November 1928 his father John Vernon Newton, then aged seventy-one, was killed by an express train travelling at fifty miles an hour at Chesterfield Station when he crossed the tracks on foot.

When the Second World War began both of their sons enlisted. The younger, Anthony John known as Tim, joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and having learned to fly in Canada was assigned to the Fleet Air Arm. Stationed at H.M.S. Blackcap, a Royal Naval Air Station at Stretton in Cheshire, he was killed in an air crash on the 2nd of February 1943. The elder son Peter Stuart was named as an Adjutant in the Hallamshire Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment in the newspaper report. In 1945, then a Major, he was awarded the Military Cross following his Battalion’s actions in Normandy.

When Stephen Guy Newton died on the 22nd of December 1950 aged sixty-one he was joint managing director of Brown Bayley’s Steel Works in Sheffield, chairman of two other companies and an executive member of the British Iron and Steel Federation. His funeral service was held in Norton Church in Sheffield.



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