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Newington tribute to Somme victims

Villagers will mark the centenary of the start of the Battle of the Somme on July 1 with a commemoration event around the Memorial Garden poppies at 2pm.

Newington lost 31 men in World War One and the tribute, organised by Newington History Group (NHG), will remember those villagers killed at the Somme during the first four months.

Pupils from Newington CofE primary school, who are taught about the lives of the local men who fought in the war, will join the community event – A Moment to Remember – under the village sign alongside the A2.

There will be the unveiling of a plaque to all the village’s war dead at a short ceremony, along with a two minutes silence. The plaque and Memorial Garden have been donated by NHG.

The five soldiers who died in the early months of the battle were: L/Cpl Henry Bishenden, 35, 1st Bn Queen's Own (Royal West Kent), died Sept 3; Rifleman Harold Brand, 23, 1st/5th Bn London, from Rainham who was the Newington parish church organist, died Sept 6; Pte Edgar Hales 27, 1st/9th Bn The Buffs (East Kent), died Oct 2; Pte James Mannering, 35, 6th Bn The Buffs (East Kent), died Oct 6 and 2nd Lieut Alexander John Hanmer MC, 20, 3rd Bn attd. 6th Bn The Buffs (East Kent), died Oct 7.

The Battle of the Somme began on July 1, 1916, was one of the bloodiest battles in history. Fought on both sides of the river Somme in France, it lasted until November 18.

The first day of fighting resulted in 57,470 British casualties, more than the combined British casualties of the Crimean, Boer and Korean wars.

 


History Group's partnership cleans Newington Memorial Cross

The Memorial Cross in Newington churchyard, near Sittingbourne, has been cleaned for the first time in many years thanks to Newington History Group  and Co-operative Funeralcare. 

Using the proceeds from its book, Newington Remembers, which details all the villagers who fell in World War One, the history group set up a fund to care for the Memorial Cross and the roll of honour in the church.

The first step was to clean it and Co-operative Funeralcare in Sittingbourne offered to carry out the work for nothing during October.

Their chief stonemason, Steve Setchfield, led the three-day operation to bring the 96-year-old memorial back to its former glory. The scaffolding was provided by Island Scaffolding.

Nuala O'Donoghue, the Community Relations Organiser for Co-operative Funeralcare, said: “We are delighted to support Newington History Group and the local community by cleaning the Memorial Cross.

“It has been manually cleaned, so the process involved using a lot of elbow grease. It should look as good as new for many years.”

Last July, Steve and his team cleaned the Sittingbourne War Memorial.

Dean Coles, chairman of Newington History Group, said: “We’re grateful to Co-operative Funeralcare for their generosity and we’re pleased the work has been done in time for this year’s Remembrance Sunday ceremony.

“We believe we have a duty to maintain and conserve the memorials out of respect to the brave men from the village who gave their lives for their country.”

 

28 September 2015

In a simple but moving ceremony Newington has commemorated the centenary of the death of a local soldier killed in one of the bloodiest battles of World War One. 

The village's primary school children and members of Newington History Group gathered at the school to remember Sgt Arthur Harrison, of the 2nd Bn the Buffs, 100 years to the day after his death at the age of 23. 

Sgt Harrison, from Newington, died at the battle of Loos, near Lens – the largest British battle on the Western Front in 1915. 

Ten thousand men fell in just four hours of slaughter. Of these 8,000 were from the East Kent, West Kent, Queen's West and East Surrey Regiments. The 8th Bn the Buffs was almost wiped out. 

The pupils entered the school hall to the quick march of the Royal East Kent Regiment (The Buffs) for a short service by Trudi Godfrey, the head of school. 

Oliver, a Year 5 pupil, presented Dean Coles, the history group chairman, with a small cross bearing Sgt Harrison's name. 

It was later taken to the village's Memorial Cross where Newington History Group members held a minute's silence in the soldier's memory before placing it at the roll of honour in the parish church. 

Mr Coles said: "The children have been learning about our villagers who fell in the war. Some of the pupils were marching into the hall and it was very moving to see them so engaged." 

Pupils have been using copies of Newington History Group's book, Newington Remembers, a social and military history of villagers who served in WWI, to study the men from the village who sacrificed their lives.