Oswald came from a successful middle class family. His parents, Leonard and Mary, had married in 1883 and he was their first child. Dorothy and Oliver would follow in the coming years. The family home was at “Longacre” on St Lesmo Road. Leonard practiced as a solicitor and was sufficiently successful for the family to be able to afford to employ two live-in servants – a cook and a housemaid (as recorded on the 1901 Census). He died in 1911.
Oswald worked for a local firm of electrical engineers – McClure & Whitefield, Range Road, Stockport - and enlisted on 10 November 1914. Perhaps surprisingly, the early development of the wartime use of armoured cars, fell to the Admiralty and, in particular, to the Royal Naval Air Service. Cars were first used in late September and early October as scout vehicles and armour was gradually added. By December, full conversions of Rolls Royce Silver Ghosts were being delivered. They were now fully armoured and equipped with a rotating gun turret fitted with a Maxim machine gun. New recruits were sought and were given rigorous technical and medical examinations. The men were all given the rank of Petty Officer (equivalent to an Army Sergeant).
No. 10 Squadron comprised 60 men and was commanded by an officer. They embarked for Gallipoli and landed towards the end of April – approximately a week after the initial invasion of the peninsula. They had a mix of transport, including motor cycles and armoured vans (converted form Ford cars). The motor cycles were equipped with the Maxim machine guns and were the mainstay of this particular Squadron’s fighting strength.
The expected break-through of the Turkish lines had not happened (and would never happen) and, as such, the terrain was unsuitable for the Squadron to deploy in its anticipated way. Instead, the motor cycles remained on the ship and the men disembarked with their machine guns and deployed as “ordinary” gunners supporting the Marines and other troops of the Royal Naval Division.
4 June saw the British attack which became officially known as the Third Battle of Krithia (after the town which was just behind the Turkish lines). Records no longer exist of the Squadron’s part in this Battle and it is, therefore, not possible to know the circumstances under which Oswald was killed. It is unlikely that he would have advanced with the infantry so it is most likely he killed by shellfire.
He was originally buried nearby at Gully Ravine, but over the course of the War after the evacuation, the actual identification of his grave was lost. After the Armistice, many of the bodies were moved from the Ravine to Twelve Trees Copse Cemetery and those who could not identified are now commemorated on a Memorial within the Cemetery.
The War would bring a double tragedy to the New family and, in the late spring of 1918, the letter dreaded by every family would again arise to tell them that Oliver had also been killed.