Lieutenant-Colonel Augustus Charles NEWMAN (33927), The Essex Regiment
(attached Commandos) (Salford, Bucks.).
On the night
of 27th/28th March, 1942, Lieutenant-Colonel Newman was in command of
the military force detailed to land on enemy occupied territory and
destroy the dock installations of the German controlled naval base at
This important base was known to be heavily defended and
bomber support had to be abandoned owing to bad weather. The operation
was therefore bound to be exceedingly hazardous, but Lieutenant-Colonel
Newman, although empowered to call off the assault at any stage, was
determined to carry to a successful conclusion the important task which
had been assigned to him.
Coolly and calmly he stood on the bridge of the leading craft, as
the small force steamed up the estuary of the River Loire, although the
ships had been caught in the enemy searchlights and a murderous
crossfire opened from both banks, causing heavy casualties.
Although Lieutenant-Colonel Newman need not have landed himself, he
was one of the first ashore and, during the next five hours of bitter
fighting, he personally entered several houses and shot up the occupants
and supervised the operations in the town, utterly regardless of his own
safety, and he never wavered in his resolution to carry through the
operation upon which so much depended.
An enemy gun position on the roof of a U-boat pen had been
causing heavy casualties to the landing craft and Lieutenant-Colonel
Newman directed the fire of a mortar against this position to such
effect that the gun was silenced. Still fully exposed, he then
brought machine gun fire to bear on an armed trawler in the harbour,
compelling it to withdraw and thus preventing many casualties in the
main demolition area.
Under the brilliant leadership of this officer the troops fought
magnificently and held vastly superior enemy forces at bay, until the
demolition parties had successfully completed their work of destruction.
By this time, however, most of the landing craft had been sunk or
set on fire and evacuation by sea was no longer possible. Although the
main objective had been achieved, Lieutenant-Colonel Newman nevertheless
was now determined to try and fight his way out into open country and so
give all survivors a chance to escape.
The only way out of the harbour area lay across a narrow iron
bridge covered by enemy machine guns and although severely shaken by a
German hand grenade, which had burst at his feet, Lieutenant-Colonel
Newman personally led the charge which stormed the position and under
his inspiring leadership the small force fought its way through the
streets to a point near the open country, when, all ammunition expended,
he and his men were finally overpowered by the enemy.
The outstanding gallantry and devotion to duty of this
fearless officer, his brilliant leadership and initiative, were largely
responsible for the success of this perilous operation which resulted in
heavy damage to the important naval base at St. Nazaire.
London Gazette, 19th June, 1945