2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (British Army)
Date Of Birth:
21/10/1914 (Killed in Action)
Joseph Newell was a son of Rachel and William Newell. He was born on 7th July 1894 in Stewartstown. He was on of twelve children. The family lived at North Street, Stewartstown. His father was a general labourer. Joseph joined the army at young age. From 1912 he was an officer’s servant. His master, with whom he was very popular, was medically unfit for active service. Private Joseph Newell elected to go to the front. He was serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers when he was killed in action on Wednesday 21st October 1914.
Joseph Newell was a son of Rachel and William Newell. William Newell and Rachel Anderson were married on 19th September 1886 in the district of Cookstown.
Joseph Newell was born on 7th July 1894 in Stewartstown. He was one of twelve children, eight surviving.
The 1901 census lists Joseph as age 6, living with family at house 80 in North Street, Stewartstown. His father was a general labourer.
Family: William Newell, Rachel Newell, George Newell (born 30th May 1887), William Newell (born 1st January 1889), Samuel Newell (born 11th September 1890), James Newell (born 9th September 1892), Joseph Newell (born 7th July 1894), John Newell (born 11th June 1896), Ernest Newell (born 19th April 1898, died 19th April 1898), Mary Newell (born 22nd February 1899, died 6th April 1899), Anna Victoria Georgina Newell (born 27th February 1900), Mary Newell (born 13th January 1902), Henry Newell (born 10th August 1903), Jane Newell (born 9th January 1906. died 27th April 1907).
Joseph’s father, William Newell, died on 10th May 1910 in Stewartstown, aged 50.
The 1911 census does not list Joseph as living with the family at house 29 in North Street, Stewartstown. His mother was a widow.
Joseph joined the army at young age.
From 1912 he was an officer’s servant. His master, with whom he was very popular, was medically unfit for active service and it could have been arranged that young Newell could have remained with him at home.
Private Joseph Newell elected to go to the front.
Private Joseph Newell was serving with ‘A’ Company in the the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers when he was killed in action on Wednesday 21st October 1914.
On the 21st October 1914, the Inniskillings came under a ferocious attack and were driven back a few hundred yards. It was during this attack that Joseph lost his life. From about 5.15pm they held the enemy and re-took their former trench after midnight.
From the Tyrone Courier dated 29th October 1914: Three Sons on Active Service – Stewartstown men’s letters (after Joseph Newell's death but before news had come through)
Mrs Rachael Newell of North Street, Stewartstown, has sent us a number of interesting postcards and letters received from her three sons Tom (John?), Jim and Samuel, (and Joseph) all on active service. The communications are interesting as showing the methods of the Censors, who passed all the letters as written except one from which they tore probably the most interesting piece. One of the postcards, sent by Joe Newell to his mother at Church Street, Stewartstown, shows the French Artillery Barracks where he stopped for a time with the window in the building marked. This card bears the postmarks of the Advance Base Post Office dated 7th September and also the Army Base Post Office dated 3rd October showing the card was delayed by the authorities for close on a month and even then, lest the news of their whereabouts should leak out the printed address of the barracks, was clipped away with a pair of scissors. The letters show the soldiers to be in the best of spirits and very optimistic of the result of the war. They still take an interest in Irish politics and seem to be pretty well provided for, except in the matter of writing paper and matches. The writing paper can be easily forwarded by enclosing sheets of paper in the letters to the soldiers.
From the Tyrone Courier dated 5th November 1914: Stewartstown and Kitchener’s Army letters (after Joseph Newell's death but before news had come through)
Private Joseph Newell RIF writing to his mother (Mrs R Newell, North Street, Stewartstown) says “Just a few lines in answer to your kind and welcome letter, which I received safe and was glad to see by it all at home is well. Now you ask about Frank Richards. He was wounded in the leg, just above the knee, at the place where we had the first big fight. Well his wound was dressed and all, but he was lame and weak from loss of blood. I did all I could, as had all to retire and take up a position in a given line a little further back, and whether he was taken prisoner or killed afterwards I do not know, but I should like to hear about him if he is still alive. Jack Priestly and John Shields are still here in my company; also John Maguire and A. Bell are with us but they are in a another company. I see Stewartstown is doing very badly for Kitchener’s army. I thought it would have done better. What you say about it soon being over. Well it is hard to tell, as there are some left of their millions yet, and not until they are finished shall there be signs of peace. Here we are all sure of victory and are sticking it well. The weather is cold and wet, especially at night it is the coldest, but we will soon get ourselves warm again. So tell all I am asking for them, so now I shall say goodbye.” Lady Caulfield, sister to Viscount Charlemont, called with Mrs Newell a few days ago and complimented her very warmly on having four sons in the British Army (Samuel, Jim, Joseph and John) and said she should be a proud mother having so many sons defend them here at home. Mrs Newell has one son in India and three at the Front. In addition to one brother in the North Irish Horse at the Front, one in the Ulster Volunteers at training in camp, and four cousins all in the Army.
From the Tyrone Courier dated 26th November 1914: Private Joseph Newell
Private Joseph Newell (son of Mrs R Newell, Stewartstown), was killed in France at the battle of the Aisne. He was 20 years of age and joined the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers about 4 years ago,
When he was killed in action he had three other brothers serving. James was in the Army Veterinary Corps, Samuel in India, and John, who served beside him in the same company. Sadly, John was to survive his brother by just a little over two weeks.
In his will, Joseph Newell left all to his mother, who was living at North Street, Stewartstown.
Last Will and Testament of Private Joseph Newell:
In the event of my death, I give the whole of my property and effects to my mother Rachel Newell, Church Street, Stewartstown, Co Tyrone. 9988 Joseph Newell 2nd Battalion Inniskilling Fusiliers
On 16th January 1915 the Mid Ulster Mail reported that Mrs Newell had received a letter from the King informing her that he had heard with great interest that she had four sons in the Army and expressing his congratulations and assuring her that His Majesty appreciates the spirit and patriotism which prompted this example in one family of loyalty and devotion to Sovereign and Country. A fifth son had just joined the Army the previous week. In addition to this she also had two brothers and thirteen cousins in the British Army. On New Year’s Day she received a small present of rice from children in the United States and a number of cards from comrades of her two fallen sons.
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 13th January 1915: Tyrone Family’s Military Record
Mrs R Newell, North Street, Stewartstown had received a letter informing her that the King he had heard with much interest that she had four sons in the army, and assuring her that His Majesty appreciated the spirit and patriotism which prompted this example in one family of loyalty and devotion to Sovereign and country. Mrs Newell had two sons killed in November, Joseph aged 20 and John aged 18. Another son joined the army during the past week, making the total of sons given to the services five, all attached to the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. In addition she has two brothers and thirteen cousins serving in the British Army.
From the Tyrone Courier dated 6th May 1915: Stewartstown Man’s Letter – Wants Back to the Front (Private James Newell – brother of Joseph Newell)
Private James Newell, who left Kildare on 6th August last, and has been some seven or eight months at the front, writes to his sister, Miss Annie Newell, North Street, Stewartstown, from No 2 Veterinary Hospital, Army Veterinary Corps, British Expeditionary Force, to the effect that he is doing all right, but longing to be back again at the front, which he hopes will soon be. His letter for the most part consists of domestic affairs, offering advice and encouragement to his mother and other relatives, and looking forward to a brighter future at the end of the war, which he hopes will not be too long. It will be recollected that two of his brothers have been killed in action, while another has been wounded.
From the Tyrone Courier dated 8th July 1915: Stewartstown Soldiers’ Letter (James and Samuel Newell – brothers of Joseph Newell)
Mrs Newell, North Street, Stewartstown, has received a letter from her son Corporal James Newell, No 2 Veterinary Hospital, Army Veterinary Corps, British Expeditionary Force, in which he acknowledges the receipt of parcels of comforts, etc., and states that at present he is quite well. Mrs Newell has also received a letter from her son Samuel, of the 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers, dated at Rouen, France, to the same effect. Mrs Newell’s fifth son, William, is at present at Randalstown in training for the front.
From the Tyrone Courier dated 19th August 1915: (Sergeant James Newell – brother of Joseph Newell)
Mr J Newell, North Street, Stewartstown, has been promoted to the rank of Sergeant. He is attached to the 2nd Veterinary Hospital, Army Veterinary Corps, British Expeditionary Force.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 9th September 1916:
Private S Newell, Royal Irish Fusiliers, son of Mrs Newell, North Street, Stewartstown, writing to Mr Thomas Ferguson, Albany, thanking Stewartstown Shooting Club for cigarettes, says he is sure we are reaching the final stages of the campaign, and that everything is going on all right at the Front at present. He and his comrades very much appreciate the efforts of the club in sending comforts. Private Newell has two brothers serving, while two others have been killed in action.
From the Tyrone Courier dated 10 May 1917 : Private Samuel Newell
Private Samuel Newell, Irish Fusiliers, one of the five sons of Mrs Newell, North Street, Stewartstown, has been wounded. Private Newell has three years service in India and came home in 1914. He was wounded at Hill 60 (Ypres) losing a toe and seven months in hospital. Although only liable for home service only, he again volunteered and went to France. On 8th April 1917 he wrote a letter to his mother just as he was going to the trenches. The next she heard of him was a letter dated April 16, from Sergeant John Donnelly, who regretted to inform her that Samuel had been wounded and was missing, but two days later a further letter from Sergeant Donnelly was received, and one written on the same date by the chaplain of a casualty clearing station to the effect that Samuel had been wounded in the leg. A letter has since been received from himself stating that he was getting on well and hoped to be sent home soon.
Both Private Joseph Newell and Private John Newell have no known grave and they are commemorated sided by side on panel 5 of the Ploegsteert Memorial in Belgium.
Both Joseph and John Newell are also commemorated on Stewartstown Cenotaph and Donaghendry Church of Ireland Roll of Honour.
The CWGC record Private Joseph Newell as the son of Rachel Newell of North Street, Stewartstown, County Tyrone, and of the late William Newell.