WWII: Captain Ralph Newman CBE DSO* VRD RNZNVR

Captain Newman, World War Two Naval Reserve hero

Ralph Newman, who was born in London in 1898, pursued a career in the Merchant Navy. He was present at the Gallipoli landings in 1915 whilst serving in a ship that took part in the second group of landings on the peninsular.

When he left the Merchant Service Newman settled in Christchurch, and was one of the foundation members of the Canterbury Division of the Naval Reserve in 1928, where he was commissioned as Lieutenant. By 1937 he had been promoted Commander and had taken command of the division.

In May 1940 Newman commanded the first Naval draft to leave New Zealand in RMS AQUITANIA. Like many other officers in that draft, he became commanding officer of a Tree Class Minesweeper. As Commanding Officer of HMS ACACIA, he was also Senior Officer of the 24th Minesweeping Group in the English Channel. Later he was based on Tees-Hartlepool for service in the North Sea. Captain Newman was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC)  'For good service and leadership and gallantry under enemy attack.'

He was next posted to HMS ABERCARE and was Senior Officer of the 2nd Minesweeping Flotilla operating out of Alexandria in the Mediterranean. In June 1943 he was promoted Captain and was engaged in minesweeping operations off the coasts off Libya, Malta and Sicily.

At that time Captain Newman was the most senior Volunteer Reserve officer serving afloat in the entire Commonwealth. He was awarded a Bar to his DSC at this time.

At the end of the war he was made a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and returned to command the Canterbury division, HMNZS PEGASUS, from 1951 until 1953.

HMS ACACIA, one of Captain Newman's command postings

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