Lt Colonel Augustus Charles Newman VC

Lt Col Newman, usually called Gus or Charlie was born at Buckhurst Hill to  Augustus and Alice Newman.

He was a constructional engineer in civilian life who had operated with an independent company in Narvik achieving such success that played a part in the establishment of the Commandos.

Newman joined the 4th Battalion of Essex Regiment before being attached to the new Commando Units.

On 28 March 1942 in the attack on St Nazaire, France, Lieutenant Colonel Augustus Charles Newman, was in charge of the military forces charged with landing and destroying dock facilities at St Nazaire on the night of 27/8th March 1942.

The task was made more difficult by the weather which prevented the planned participation by RAF bombers.

Lt Col Newman stood coolly on the bridge of the leading craft while the small force steamed up the Loire estuary, although the ships had been caught in the German searchlights and murderous crossfire opened from both banks causing heavy casualties.

He was one of the first ashore, although he need not have gone ashore himself, and during the next five hours of bitter fighting he personally entered several houses, shot up the occupants and supervised the operations of the town.

An enemy gun position on the roof of the U Boat pen, which had been causing heavy casualties to the landing crafts was silenced by mortar fire. Then still fully exposed Newman bought machine gun fire to bear on an armed trawler compelling it to withdraw and thus minimising many casualties in the main demolition area.

 Under his inspiring leadership the troops fought magnificently and held vastly superior numbers of the enemy at bay until the demolition parties had done their work.

Most landing craft had by now been sunk or set on fire and evacuation by sea was no longer possible but Newman was still determined to try and fight his way out into open country to give all survivors a chance to escape.

He personally lead the charge through the only way out of the harbour area across a narrow iron bridge covered by enemy machine guns and the small force fought its way nearly to the open country until all ammunition expended he and his men were finally overpowered by the enemy.

The colonel then attempted to fight through into open country and not until all the ammunition was spent were he and his men overwhelmed and taken prisoner.

He was taken prisoner along with 123 of his men. When the Germans wanted to separate him from them he refused.

He died in 1972.

The VC is held at the Ashcroft Collection in the Imperial War Museum.