South Newington is a village and civil parish on the south bank of the River Swere in the Cotswold Hills in Oxfordshire, England, about 5 miles southwest of Banbury.
FIRST WORLD WAR
ALBERT AUSTIN was serving in the 10th (Service) Battalion, The Royal Warwickshire Regiment when he was killed in action on 12th April 1916. He was aged 28 and is buried in Rue du Bacquerot No 1 Military Cemetery, Laventie.
He was the son of Henry and Ellen Austin, having been born in Woodstock. In 1909 he married Harriet Nicholls in Bicester. He was working as a cowman in Berkswell near Coventry, whist his wife and their young daughter were living with her parents in Somerton. His parents and siblings had by then moved to South Newington.
He enlisted into 10th Battalion of the Warwicks in Coventry and arrived with them in France on 18th July 1915. As part of the 19th (Western) Division they were engaged in the Action at Pietre, a supporting/diversionary action during the Battle of Loos on 25th September 1915. On 11th April 1916 they came out of reserve to relieve front line trenches in the Tilloy area. The following day Private Austin was killed by a shell that hit his trench.
His younger brother James had served in France with the Royal Berkshire and West Riding Battalions between 19th August 1916 until 3rd September 1919. His widow re-marrried in 1918.
PRIVATE CHARLES THOMAS CALLOW was serving as a Pioneer with the 2nd Signal Company, The Royal Engineers when he was killed in action on 16th September 1914. He was aged 28 and is commemorated on La Ferté-sous-Jouarre Memorial to the Missing, having no known grave.
He was the son of Thomas and Ruth Callow and was born in Deddington and had worked as a groom before joining the Army as a professional soldier, joining the 2nd Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in early 1909. He transferred to the Royal Engineers and landed in France on 17th August 1914. The Royal Engineer were responsible for all the Army's communication in 1914 including carrier pigeons, visual signalling, telegraphy and wireless. The 2nd Signal Company were part of the 2nd Division, one of the first British formations to move to France. They saw action during the Battle of Mons on 23rd August 1914, the Battle of the Marne 9th to 12th September. He was killed in action during the First Battle of the Aisne.
His elder brother William had lived in South Newington and ran the bakery there with his wife Florence.
ALBERT EDWARD HARRIS was serving as a Private with the 2nd Battalion, The Grenadier Guards when he died from the effects of gas on 13th September 1917. He was aged 39 and is buried in Dozinghem Military Cemetery.
He was the son of Joseph and Catherine Harris, having been born in Quenington, Gloucestershire and had worked as a labourer He married Harriet Coleman in South Newington in June 1911 and moved to Sycamore Terrace, Bloxham.
He enlisted into the Grenadier Guards in February 1915 in Oxford and joined the 2nd Battalion in France on 16th December 1915. As part of the 1st Guards Division he was action in the 1916 Battles of Flers-Courcelette and Morval, part of the Somme Offensive. In 1917 they pursued the Germans in their retreat to the Hindenburg Line and took part in the Third Battle of Ypres, beginning with the Battle of Pilckem Ridge on 31st July. Between 10th and 13th September 1917 the Battalion was billeted at Rugby Camp near Ypres when they were subject to bombing, shelling and gassing. Private Harris succumbed to the effects of gas in hospital.
GEORGE THOMAS HARRIS was serving with the 1st Battalion, The Royal Berkshire Regiment when he died of his wounds on 28th September 1915. He was aged 18 and is buried in Fouquières Churchyard Extension near Béthune.
He was the son of Richard and Mary Ann Harris of South Newington but moved to Caversfield near Bicester with his family, working as a carter on a farm.
He was living in Banbury when he enlisted into the Berkshires in Oxford, joining the 1st Battalion 10th July 1915. He was wounded during the Battle of Loos and died in the 7th Field Ambulance.
PRIVATE WILLIAM THOMAS HARRIS was serving as a Private in the 2nd Battalion, the Coldstream Guards when he was killed in action on 30th March 1915. He was aged 28 and is buried in Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner, Cuinchy.
He was the son of George and Jane Harris of South Newington and had worked as an agriculural labourer.
He enlisted into the Coldstream Guards in Rugby in September 1914 joining the 2nd Battalion in France on 9th February 1915. The 2nd Coldstream Guards were holding the line either side of the La Bassee Canal at Givenchy-les-la-Bassee and Cuinchy whenP rivate Harris was killed in action.
JOHNATHAN HENRY PICKERING, known as John, was serving as a Corporal with the 4th Reinforcements Battalion, Canterbury Regiment, New Zealand Expeditionary Force when he died of consumption on 16th June 1916. He was aged 32 and is buried in Ashburton Cemetery, New Zealand.
He was the son of Henry and Mary Elizabeth Pickering of South Newington, having been born in Brailles. He had worked as an apprentice baker with his younger brother Harry in his uncle's business in Birkenhead. On 14th October 1901 he enlisted into the Grenadier Guards. six days later, on 20th October he went absent with out leave and on was court martialled and sentenced to 56 days hard labour for desertertion. Afterwards he seemed to settle down and was made a Lance Corporal in June 1907. He transferred into the reserves on 25th October 1909 and was discharged as time expired on 25th October 1913. He emigrated to New Zealand, settling in Ashburton, where he worked as a baker.
He enlisted into the Canterbury Regiment on 16th January 1915 and was promoted Corporal in February 1915. He left for Egypt on 7th April April 1915 but Corporal Pickering succumbed consumption and was invalided back to New Zealand in March 1915 and admitted to the County Hospital in Ashburton, where he died.
ALBERT EDWARD SPENCER was serving as a Private with the 2nd Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry when he was killed in action on 16th May 1915, during the Battle of Festubert. He was aged 32 and is commemorated on Le Touret Memorial having no known grave.
He was the son of William and Adelaide Spencer, having been born in Banbury. In 1898 whilst working as a labourer, he enlisted into the 4th Territorial Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry transferring to the Coldstream Guards as a full time soldier. He served in South Africa in the Boer War with them in 1902. On his return to England he was transferred, being time expired, into the reserves. In June 1903 he married Sarah Rose Carpenter in Great Tew. They lived at Vicarage Farm Cottage, Kirklington where he was a head carter on a farm and had one son.
He was living in Hempton when he enlisted into the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in Banbury at the outbreak of war. He joined the 2nd Battalion in France on 4th January 1915, who were under the orders of the 2nd Division. The Battle of Festubert was an action in the Artois region of France by the British First Army under General Sir Douglas Haig between 15th May and 25th May 1915. It was part of a larger French offensive to secure the town of Arras. The attack was made against a German salient between Neuve Chapelle and the village of Festubert. The battle was preceded by a 60 hour bombardment by 433 artillery pieces which fired over 100,000 shells. However the bombardment failed to significantly damage the German defences partly as there were no high explosives available and many shells were duds. At 23:30 on the night of the 15th May the front line platoons left their trenches and attacked German positions across no-mans land. The initial advance was completed to the rue du Bois with fairly light casualties and the troops occupied the German front line trenches and dug in. It was at this point the 2nd Battalion Ox and Bucks were sent in to support. After this German resistance stiffened with accurate machine gun and artillery fire. The village of Festubert was eventually captured on 25th May, only 1 kilometer of territory gained at cost of 16,000 casualties including Private Spencer.
He is not mentioned on South Newington War Memorial, although his two younger brothers (below) are. At the time of his death his parents were living between South Newington and Milcombe.
JABEZ ERNEST SPENCER was serving as a Private with the 6th (Service) Battalion, The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry when he died on 24th March 1915. He was aged 29 and is buried in Aldershot Military Cemetery.
He was the son of William and Adelaide Spencer, having been born in Banbury and at 14 was working as a a servant in a house in Oldbury, Worcestershire. He went on to become a Mate of a canal barge, working out of Hartshill Granite Quarry in Warwickshire. In 1914 he married Alice Hickman in Banbury and they moved to Brinklow, near Rugby and had two daughters and a son.
He enlisted into the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in Banbury and was based in Aldershot Barracks when he was taken ill and he died in Frensham Military Hospital.
His younger brother Reuben was to be killed in action in 1917.
PRIVATE REUBEN FREDERICK SPENCER was serving with the 2nd Battalion, The Wiltshire Regiment when he killed in action on 3rd June 1917. He was aged 28 and is buried in Hop Store Cemetery in Belgium.
He was the son of William and Adelaide Spencer, having been born in Banbury. He worked as a labourer and in November 1909 married Tryphena Edith Hawkins in Milcombe Parish Church. They moved to Milton Cheney where they had two daughters together. Tryphena sadly died in March 1912 and Reuben re-married Maude Faulkener from South Newington in 1915.
He enlisted in Banbury into the Royal Field Artillery and arrived in the Balkans theatre on 19th September 1915. He transferred to the Wiltshire Regiment and at some point and joined the 5th Battalion then the 2nd Battalion in France. He was killed in action during the Arras offensive of 1917.
His widow Maude re-married in February 1918
HENRY RICHARD HOWSE TREDWELL, known as Harry, was serving as a Bugler with the 1st/4th Battalion, The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry when he died of his wounds on 3rd August 1916. He was aged 20 and is buried in Agenville Cemetery in the Somme region.
He was the son of John and Mary Tredwell and had been born in Swinbrook and had worked as a roadman. His family then moved to South Newington. He had joined the 4th Territorial Battalion of the The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in 1913. Forming into the 1st/4th Battalion they arrived in France on 30th March 1915 under the command off the 48th (South Midland) Division. They saw action in the Battle of Albert from 1st July 1916, the opening phase of the Somme Offensive. From 23rd July they were engaged in the Battle of Pozieres and on 29th July moved from Arqueves to billets in Agenville. The Battalion war diary states that "1796 Bugler H Tredwell died from a self inflicted gun shot wound".
WILLIAM WISE was serving as a Lance Corporal with the 10th (Service) Battalion, The Lincolnshire Regiment when he was killed in action on 28th April 1917. He was aged 19 and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial, having no known grave.
He was the son of Allen and Emily Wise, of High Street, South Newington. He had enlisted into the 2nd/4th Battalion of The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and arrived in France with them on 24th May 1916. They saw action in the disastrous Battle of Fromelles in June 1916, a diversionary attack for the Xomme Offensive. Promoted to Lance Corporal William Wise was transferred to the 1oth Lincolnshires, the Grimsby Pals Battalion. He was in action in phases of the Battle of the Somme before taking part in the 1917 Arras offensive
SECOND WORLD WAR
DOUGLAS PLENDERLEATH LITHGOW MBE was serving a a Major with the 1st Royal Dragoons, Royal Armoured Corps when he died on active service on 21st March 1944. He was aged 47 and was cremated, his ashes being buried in South Newington (St Peter Ad Vincula) Churchyard.
He was the son of Samuel and Jessie Lithgow, having been born in Marylebone, London. He was commissioned into the Royal Dragoons as a 2nd Lieutenant on 12th May 1915 and joined the 1st in France on 2nd June 1916. They were not involved in any major engagemens in 1916. As part of the 3rd Cavalary Division they took part in the Arras offensive from 9th April 1917. He was promoted to Lieutenant on 5th August 1917 and to Captain on 31st August. In 1918 they faced the German Spring Offensive from 21st March 1918, the Division forming three Dismounted Brigades to halt the German advance towards Amiens. Taking part in the 100 days advance into Flanders the Division formed part of the Army of Occupation in Germany after the Armistice. He served as the ADC to the GOC the British Army of the Rhine between 30th May and 1st August 1919. He then became an Adjutant with the Territorial Army.
In March 1919 he had married Dorothy Hughes-Onslow in Marylebone and had two sons together. They went on to live at the Manor in South Newington. He was recalled to full time service in 1940, working in Edinburgh for the Scottish Command as an Assistant Adjutant General, being promoted Major in April 1941. He died suddenly at his house in Colinton, Edinburgh.
ROBERT GRANVILLE PARKS-SMITH MID was serving as a Lieutenant Colonel with the Royal Marines when he died of wounds received during the Dieppe Raid on 20th August 1942. He was aged 33 and is buried in South Newington (St Peter Ad Vincula) Churchyard.
He was the son of Ernest and Elizabeth Parks-Smith having been born in Williamscot, Warwickshire, where his parents had farmed. He was educated at Christ's Hospital in Horsham between 1920 and 1927 before being commissioned into the Royal Marines as a Second Lieutenant, pictured below.
He became a full Lieutenant in 1931 joining the battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth, serving on the Mediterranean station then in 1934 served aboard the minesweeper HMS Adventurer on the China Station, being promoted to Captain in 1936. In 1937 he married Aline Sykes Wright in the RM Depot church in Walmer, Kent. He became Adjutant of a Royal Marines Battalion based in Plymouth. At the outbreak of the war he volunteered for commando service and was one of the first to be trained as a military parachutist in 1940. He was posted to Combined Operations HQ in London and given the temporary ranks of major then lieutenant colonel. From October 1942 Combined Operations was led by Vice Admiral Louis Mountbatten. They planned numerous operations including "Operation Biting" when commandos captured a German Radar in February 1942. Planning for an offensive on a French Channel Port began. Objectives included seizing and holding a major port for a short period, both to prove that it was possible and to gather intelligence. Upon retreat, the Allies also wanted to destroy coastal defences, port structures and all strategic buildings. The raid had the added objectives of boosting morale and demonstrating the firm commitment to open a western front in Europe. Dieppe was the chosen target for "Operation "Jubilee" and after several delays it was launched on 19th August 1942. The main force consisted 0f two Brigades of the 3rd Canadian Division with 3 and 4 Commando of the British Army. There were also a number of specialist Royal Marine groups. One, a beach landing control party, was led by Robert Parks-Smith. They would be one of the first to land on White beach and take control of the landing of troops. Robert Parks-Smith was seriously wounded on landing but continued to carry out his duties. The raid was a costly failure both for the troops involved and the RAF attempting to control the skies above, but valuable lessons were learned that were put into practice with the Normandy landings. Robert Parks-Smith made it back to England but died of his wounds in hospital the following day. For his great bravery and devotion to duty he was awarded a posthumous "Mention in Despatches".
At the time of his death his parents were living and farming in South Newington whilst his wife and two children were living at Holcombe House in Deddington.
A full account of Lt- Colonel Parks-Smith can be foud here: http://www.deddingtonhistory.uk/worldwars/aparishatwar-postpublicationinformation/robertbobbieparks-smith
RICHARD ALNWICK SHACKLETON MC was serving as a Lieutenant in the 274th Field Company of the Royal Engineers when he was killed in action on 15th February 1945. He was aged 22 and is buried in Ottersum Roman Catholic Cemetery in Limburg, Netherlands.
He was the son of Colonel Cedric Overton Shackleton, O.B.E., R.A.M.C., and Vera Shackleton, of South Newington having been born in Kingston, Surrey. He was educated at Wellington College between 1936 and 1940 and was a Royal Engineer Cadet at Trinity College in April 1941. Posted to 274 Field Company, part of the 51st (Highland) Division the left England on 16th June 1942 arriving in Egypt on 12th August and serving in Libya and Tunisia, On 8th July 1943 they were sent to Sicily, landing there on 10th July and moving on to Italy. On 26th November they arrived back in England to prepare for the Normandy Landings, arriving on D-Day+1, 7th June 1944.
On 13th August 1944 at about 1200 Lt Shackleton was under the orders of the 5th Battalion, The Black Watch which were attacking the village of Le Bû-sur-Rouvres, south east of Caen. He and his party of sappers were tasked with clearing the road of mines and followed immediately behind the first line of advancing troops from the start line. They soon came under heavy mortar fire which caused casualties amongst the party. As this fire continued Lt Shackleton withdrew his men and evacuated the casualties. Knowing how inportant it was to get supporting arms up to the positions he road on the front of the leading carrier and inspected the road visually for mines. He detected a mine belt across the road and this barrier was lifted under heavy mortar fire. He then led the carriers and other support vehicles up to their positions. For his courage and leadership Lt Shackleton was awarded the Military Cross, gazetted on 21st December 1944.
On 15th February 1945 the Royal Engineers were engaged in building a bridge across the River Niers at Kessel when Lieutenant Richard Shackleton was killed by a lethal S-Mine. These mines when triggered sprang about 3 foot in the air. His sergeant, who had served with him throughout, wrote, "I never had a better officer or friend. He was one of the finest men it has ever been by privilege to know."
His father Cedric Overton Shackleton had served as a Lieutenant then Captain with the Royal Medical Corps as a surgeon in France from October 1914. He remained an army officer after the war, serving in India rising to Major then Colonel. He was serving in Singapore when the Japanese overran the island on 1942, and was a prisoner of war when he son was killed. After liberation he returned to live at East Bank South Newington and was awarded the OBE in 1946.
BURIED IN SOUTH NEWINGTON CHURCHYARD
HENRY JOHN PICKERING, known as Harry, was born in 1897, the son of Henry and Mary Elizabeth Pickering of South Newington. He had worked as an apprentice baker with his older brother John in his uncle's business in Birkenhead. He then emigrated to New Zealand with his brother, living in Ashburton, Canterbury and working as a labourer. His brother had joined the Canterbury Regiment of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force and seen service in Egypt. He had contracted consumption there and was evacuated back to New Zealand and died in hospital in Ashburton in 1916, see above. Harry had also enlisted into C Company of the Canterbury Regiment on 9th March 1916, whilst his brother was in hospital. On 20th June 1916 he embarked at Wellington and arrived in Devonport on 26th August 1916.
He joined the 2nd Battalion of the Canterbury Regiment in the field in France on 13th Octber 1916 and was pitched into the Battle of Le Transloy, a phase of the Somme Offensive, where the terrible weather in which the heavy, clinging, chalky Somme mud and the freezing, flooded battlefield became as formidable an enemy as the Germans. On 23rd March 1917 the Battalion was manning positions near the Belgium village of Ploegsteert when a shell exploded near the dugout in which Private Pickering was standing. Part of the dugout wall struck him in the lower back and when he came to he found his legs to be paralyzed. He was evacuated to No 1 Field Ambulance, then the N0 2 Australian Casualty Clearing Station before reaching No 13 General Hospital in Boulogne. He was evacuated to England on 27th March on the hospital ship St Denis and admitted to the No 1 New Zealand General Hospital in Brockenhurst where he was seriously ill with a fractured dislocated spinal cord. He remained there until he was well enough to be sent back to New Zealand and this happened on 14th July 1917 when he was taken aboard the Troopship Marama, (below), at Avonmouth, reaching New Zealand on 25th August.
On arrival he was admitted to Trentham Military Hospital and assessed by a medical board. As a result he was discharged from the army as being unfit for further service owing to wounds received while on active service. He remained in hospital into the 1920's and made some improvements and was and out-patient for years after, but was left permanently disabled.
At some point he returned to England and to South Newington where he lived at 91 Council Cottages, he was still wheelchair bound. He died on 2nd July 1941 and is buried in South Newington (St Peter Ad Vincula) Churchyard, with a New Zealand Commonwealth War Gravestone.