Private Andrew Newham

As tens of thousands of men and women fought, served and died in France during the Battle of Normandy in the summer of 1944, family life continued at home.

Private Andrew Newham of 6 Troop, No. 6 Commando, landed on Sword Beach on D-Day.

                                                                                                                                       Courtesy of the Council of the National Army Museum


He was married to Joan. They were from Southsea in Hampshire.

As No. 6 Commando fought on through Normandy, Andrew had more reason than others to think about his wife back home in Southsea; she was expecting a baby.

                                                                                                                                       Courtesy of the Council of the National Army Museum


At the beginning of July, a month after landing in Normandy, Private Newham received a telegram to tell him that he was now the proud Father of a little girl.

She would be called Valerie. But he would never hold her in his arms.

On the morning of 20th August, 1st Special Service Brigade – which No. 6 Commando was part of – were involved in the Battle of Angoville Heights.

According to an account on the Brigade charged two hills at dawn, taking the German units stationed on the strategic positions completely by surprise.

But the Brigade was now exposed and cut off from nearby British units. It wasn’t long before German units attacked to try to take the position back.

After a German patrol was all but wiped out by No. 6 Commando, their position was heavily shelled. A short time later, around 250 German soldiers attacked No. 6 Commando, but were repelled by small arms fire.

The hills were again mortared and also targeted by German artillery.

Private Newham was injured at around 10.30 in the morning.

Joan was later visited by some of his comrades when they were back in the UK on leave in October. They told her that he had been hit in the head and leg and explained how they’d managed to get him out of the trench which he was in, dressed his wounds as best they could, and gave him morphine.

He was taken to a casualty clearing station. Over the next few hours he was given two blood transfusions and penicillin. Joan was told that it wasn’t possible to move Andrew to safety or to try and reach an aerodrome in the area, which was being used to repatriate casualties, because the Brigade was surrounded.

At 4.30pm, the clearing station received a direct hit by German mortars. Private Newham was hit in the stomach and killed instantly. Here are the family’s photos of his grave.

Joan wrote a letter to her parents in October 1944 after the visit of Andrew’s comrades.

At this point she still hadn’t received official confirmation of his death. She told her Mum and Dad: ‘I feel I have lost a good Husband, but each time I look at baby I can see him in her eyes, she is doing lovely…even now I have not officially heard from the War Office that he is dead, so please write to no one outside the family until you hear from me again, which I hope will be in a few days.’

Private Andrew Newham was originally buried in Cricqueville en Auge but his remains were later moved to Ranville War Cemetery.

After the war, his was one of a number of graves ‘adopted’ by a French family in Ranville cemetery. They wrote to Joan saying; ‘If you, or one of your family, would like to visit his grave, you must write to us – we would meet you at Caen and should be very glad to put you up. We often visit the grave. At the moment it is decorated with forget-me-nots, in the form of a cross, which will bloom till the Spring….’

Private Andrew David Newham will be remembered on the British Normandy Memorial.

With thanks to Valerie Foster (Private Newham’s daughter).

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