Newell, Charles (No. 18559)

Newell, Charles (Charlie)

Rifleman (Bandsman)

No. 18559, ‘B’ Company, 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles

Killed in action on Monday 7 February 1916 (aged 19)


Mesnil Ridge Cemetery, France (Grave G. 6)


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Newtownards and District War Memorial

Second Newtownards Presbyterian Church

Lord Londonderry’s Own CLB Flute Band Roll of Honour

True Blues LOL No. 1055 Roll of Sacrifice, Newtownards Orange Hall

Ballymoney Heroes 1914 – 1918 (by Robert Thompson)

Brother of Rifleman (Bandsman) Thomas Newell (No. 18/87)


Charles Newell was born on 11 April 1896 in Millisle and he was a son of Thomas and Eliza (Lizzie) Newell (nee Kerr) who were married on 7 January 1887 in Ballycopeland Presbyterian Church.  Thomas Newell from Ballymoney was a son of Thomas Newell, a labourer.  Eliza Kerr from Ballymoney was a daughter of Charles Kerr, a farmer.

The Newell family lived in the townland of Ballymacruise, Carrowdore.

Thomas Newell worked as a labourer and he and Eliza had at least nine children including:

Elizabeth (Lizzie born 10 June 1888 in Millisle)

Thomas (born 19 February 1890 in Millisle)

Mary (born 25 April 1892 in Ballycopeland)

Margaret Jane (Maggie, born 24 September 1893 in Ballycopeland)

Charles (Charlie, born 11 April 1896 in Millisle)

George (born 5 May 1898 in the townland of Ballymoney, Carrowdore)

Alexander (born 12 January 1900 in Carneyhill)

Andrew (born 29 May 1901 in Ballymacruise)

Four of the children, including Charles (but not Thomas), were baptised in Millisle Presbyterian Church.

Later the Newell family moved to 54 South Street, Newtownards.

Prior to the outbreak of the Great War Charlie Newell worked as a rougher in the Castle Gardens Mill in Newtownards.  He was a member of True Blues Loyal Orange Lodge (LOL) No. 1055 in Newtownards and also a member of the North Down Regiment of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).

Bandsman Charlie Newell was one of four Ardsmen who were killed in action together on 7 February 1916.  They were all members of the 13th (Service) Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles (1st Co Down Volunteers) serving with 108th Brigade in the 36th (Ulster) Division.    The others were Rifleman James Calvert from the townland of Tullycore, Killinchy, Rifleman David McConnell of 22 Wallace’s Street No. 2, Newtownards and Rifleman Jack Tate of Francis Street and North Street, Newtownards.

The officer in charge of the platoon was Lieutenant Elliott Johnston, a son of Samuel Johnston JP, Glen Printing and Finishing Works in Newtownards.  Lieutenant Johnston described the circumstances of their deaths.  During a heavy bombardment a shell from the German lines exploded in the midst of a party of men killing four and wounding three.  James Calvert and Charlie Newell were killed outright; David McConnell and Jack Tate died later from their injuries.  The four men were laid to rest together and the burial service was conducted by one of the brigade chaplains, the Rev Charles Campbell Manning, Rector of Comber.  On that occasion Lieutenant Johnston escaped injury but he was killed in action five months later, on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.  Charlie Newell’s brother Thomas was also killed in action on 1 July 1916.

Rifleman Charlie Newell (No. 18559) was buried in Mesnil Ridge Cemetery, Mesnil-Martinsart, France.

After the death of Rifleman Charlie Newell (No. 18559) there were two notices in the 19 February 1916 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle.  One was from his mother, sisters and brothers and one was from Lord Londonderry’s Own Church Lads’ Brigade (CLB) Flute Band of which Charlie had been a member.  The family notice contained the verse:

Sleep on, dear son, your battle is o’er,

Your duty on earth is done;

You fought for liberty and honour,

And the prize of life you won.

In February 1918 his family placed an Our Heroes – In Memoriam notice and it contained the verse:

Somewhere in France two brothers lie,

Rolled up in Union jacks;

Tears may flow, but well we know,

We can never bring them back.

Through the coming years we’ll miss them,

But whene’er our hearts doth ache,

Sweet will be the consolation

That they died for Britain’s sake.

In February 1919 his family placed an Our Heroes – In Memoriam notice and it contained the verse:

Dear is the spot where my sons are laid,

Sweet is the memory that never will fade;

But dear is the hope that again we shall meet,

Kneeling together at Jesus’ feet.

They died that we might live

Brothers Charlie and Thomas Newell were killed in action within five months of each other and both are commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial; in Second Newtownards Presbyterian Church; on Lord Londonderry’s Own CLB Flute Band Roll of Honour and on True Blues Loyal Orange Lodge No. 1055 Roll of Sacrifice.  Charles Newell is also commemorated in Ballymoney Heroes 1914 – 1918 (Page 75).

[There are eleven townlands named Ballymoney in what is now Northern Ireland; Charles Newell has a connection with the townland of Ballymoney, Carrowdore, Co Down.]