No.483 Sergeant Roland Newton
Roland Newton was born in 1891 in the township of Trentham, some 90 kilometres north west of Melbourne. He was part of a large family. By the time he enlisted in the army in September 1914, his parents, Nicholas and Mary Newton, were living at Duncans Road, Werribee with Roland’s two sisters and four brothers. Roland Newton was an engine driver.
Roland's brother, Nicholas Campbell Newton is named on the RSL Honor Board.
Another brother, Edward Newton is also named on the RSL Honor Board.
He enlisted on 12 September 1914 at Broadmeadows aged almost 24 and was assigned to the 14th Battalion, AIF. The following month he was off to Seymour, Victoria for basic training and just prior to Christmas 1914, he boarded the Ulysses and sailed to Egypt. Clearly, he had demonstrated leadership qualities in the first few months of his military service and on 1 February 1915 he was promoted to Sergeant. By then, the 14th Battalion was training in Egypt, a part of the huge allied army that formed the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force soon to confront the Turks at Gallipoli.
The writer of the 14th Battalion war diary of 13 April 1915 notes: "HMT Seang Choon left port at 7.45am destiny unknown…" That 'destiny' was to include losing almost a third of its strength in just a few days of fighting once the battalion hit the beaches around 1.30pm on 26 April 1915. It had been an unsettling wait for the battalion. Moored offshore, the men had spent from 6.00pm on 25 April 1915 not only listening to the gunfire from the beaches, but had worked throughout the night helping to unload hundreds of casualties shipped in on lighters from the beaches. By 1.30pm on 26 April, the 14th Battalion had landed 25 officers and 810 other ranks to join an advance party of three officers and 90 other ranks who had landed at midnight. Just after 8.00am on 27 April, the 14th Battalion moved off the beaches and into the hell that became known as Quinn’s Post and Courtney’s Post.
By the time they were relieved on 29 April the battalion had suffered 31 per cent casualties. Even the respite was brief, the 14th was forced back in the line the following day to stem more Turkish attacks. One of those casualties on 28 April 1915 was 483 Sergeant Roland Newton, who was killed in action aged just 24.
News of Roland Newton's death was published in the Werribee Shire Banner, 3 June 1915, p.3.
The 14th Battalion was evacuated from Gallipoli in December 1914. It served in some of the bloodiest actions of World War I – Hill 971 and Hill 60 at Gallipoli, Pozieres during the Somme offensive in France in 1916, and Bullecourt in northern France in 1917.
After its service in Gallipoli, the battalion was immortalised as 'Jacka’s Mob' after Lance-Corporal Albert Jacka, VC. He became the first member of the AIF to be awarded the Victoria Cross for 'gallantry in the face of the enemy' during the major Turkish counterattacks of May 1915. During his service on the Western Front, he was to be awarded the Military Cross and Bar.
Sergeant Roland Newton is buried at Courtney’s and Steele’s Post Cemetery (Row E, Grave No. 6) barely 800 metres from Anzac Cove.
In an Obituary for his father, Nicholas Newton, it was noted that Roland was one of the first to enlist from Werribee and, sadly, was believed to be the first Werribee lad to receive fatal wounds.
Werribee Shire Banner, 16 May 1929, p.6.
Medals and Entitlements:
His parents were given the following:
- 1914-15 Star
- British War Medal
- Victory Medal
- Memorial Scroll and plaque
Lest we forget
Service record citation: NAA: B2455, NEWTON ROLAND
Battalion history and war diary entries - Australian War Memorial