Photo:Ben pictured on his 96th birthday

Ben pictured on his 96th birthday

Joy Dean (nee Brooks)

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'DOWN'S HOSPITAL' page

Brighton & Hove Gazette

Photo:Ben on his 100th birthday with Dorine, sister Catherine Maxted and Phyl

Ben on his 100th birthday with Dorine, sister Catherine Maxted and Phyl

Joy Dean (nee Brooks)

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'DOWN'S HOSPITAL' page

"The Job" police newspaper

Benjamin Newton's 100th birthday at the Downs

By Joy Dean

My grandfather  -  Benjamin NEWTON 

Benjamin Newton, second to youngest of nine children of John and Mary Newton, was born in Boss Lane, Hughenden, near High Wycombe, in Buckinghamshire, on 22 May 1880. He was christened in Hughenden Parish Church of St Michael and all Angels, 9 October 1880. Ben left school at the age of eight and worked as a farm labourer before joining the army at 16. He enlisted in the Dorset Regiment in 1896, in London; he served in Malta and Calcutta, and at one time was stationed at Dorchester Barracks. He taught himself to read and write. On 6 April 1901 he was awarded the 'V.R. Second Class Certificate of Education' 'On the authority of the Director of Military Education in India'. He passed his Certificate of a Military Telegraphist (signed by the Superintendent of Telegraphs, Punjab Division, May 1902); he worked for the police, as a wireless telegraphist in Calcutta, and on the railway in India. 

His Certificate of Discharge from the 2nd Bn. of The Dorsetshire Regiment states that Private Benjamin Newton attested at London on 14 November 1896 for the Dorsetshire Regiment at the age of 18½ years; that his service was 12 years 8 days, of which his service abroad was 11 years 271 days; that he attained Second class Certificate of Education; that his trade was Labourer; that the place and date were Wellington, India, 30 October 1908, and the discharge was confirmed at Gosport 21 November 1908. 

On 11 January 1909, Ben joined the Metropolitan Police, as Constable. He married Gertrude Sadd, daughter of Luke and Harriet Sadd, in St Mary Magdalene Church, Wandsworth Common, London, on 20 September 1911. His residence at the time of his marriage was 79 Beechcroft Road, Wandsworth. They had two daughters, Dorine, born 1911, and Phyllis in 1916. From 1909 to 1934 he served in V then P Division in the Metropolitan Police Force; his police number was 123. He retired as a Sergeant on 14 January 1934, in 'P or Catford Division'. He was in Penge, and Beckenham. I remember being told that he used to hold the inspector's horse outside Beckenham station - think of the changes that have taken place! As I am sure you can imagine, he used to tell some fascinating stories! 

In 1953 they moved to Peacehaven, Sussex, for well-deserved retirement! 

Ben spent the last few months of his life in The Downs Hospital, Newhaven, Sussex. On 22 May 1980 he achieved his goal of receiving the telegram from the Queen., the wording of which was:

'The Queen is much interested to hear that you are celebrating your one hundredth birthday and sends you warm congratulations and good wishes.'

(My mother had previously received a letter from Buckingham Palace as follows: 'Dear Mrs Brooks, I am writing to acknowledge your letter and to say that by The Queen's command a message of congratulations is being sent as requested. The Certificate which you enclosed is returned herewith.') 

Ben received two other telegrams: 'Many congratulations and good wishes on your 100th birthday from the Commissioner and all ranks of the Metropolitan Police', and 'Warm congratulations on your one hundredth birthday' from 'Patrick Jenkin, Secretary of State for Social Services'. 

With him to celebrate his achievement were his 89-year-old wife Gertrude, daughters and sons-in-law, Dorine and Bill Brooks, Phyllis and Charlie Cartland, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, mayors of Peacehaven and Newhaven, and representatives from the Sussex and Metropolitan police forces. 

Ben died one week later, on 29 May 1980. Gertie died 23 October 1982, in Woodlands Nursing Home in Ferndown, Dorset, near to her elder daughter. Ben and Gertrude were buried in the same grave, no. LCF88, in Lawns Memorial Park, Woodingdean, Brighton. 

The presents that Ben had been very proud and pleased to receive for his 100th birthday, together with a framed photograph and other memorabilia, were accepted by the Dorset Regiment, to be kept in a suitable place in The Dorset Military Museum, The Keep, in Dorchester. 

'The Job' police newspaper reported (20 June 1980):

'Ex-Force Sergeant Benjamin Newton died just a week after achieving his one last goal in life - 100th birthday telegrams from both the Queen and the Commissioner.

It said that among well-wishers were 'Chief Superintendent Owen Kelly of Catford and Inspector George Webb of Penge who on the Force's behalf presented Mr Newton with a pewter figurine of a modern-day Bobby, a bottle of brandy and a framed photograph of Penge station where he spent most of his police career. Mr Newton also received countless cards - one with 143 signatures on it, from soldiers in the Dorset Regiment.

His 68-year-old daughter Mrs Dorine Brooks said the hope of receiving the congratulations was her father's only reason for living. "Dad was a very determined man and hung on only for that goal. After his birthday wishes came true he decided to give up life - and died peacefully in his sleep.". She said that he owed his long life to sheer determination. "He left school at eight to work as his family were so poor. But at the age of 17 Dad taught himself to read and write and made up for the schooling he'd missed. He made a career for himself in the Force, first in V Division, then on to Penge in 1918."

This page was added by John Hills on 12/03/2016.

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