2/Lt. Oscar Stockton Needham

Oscar Stockton Needham was born in Didsbury in 1893. His father, Herbert Needham, was a buyer of cotton and woolen for a shipping merchant. Oscar was the youngest of 3 children and he lived with his family and a domestic servant in Withington, Manchester. By 1911 he was working as a clerk in the office of a shipping merchant while his brother, Herbert Sidney Needham, attended Manchester University.

In 1914 he joined the Officer Training Corps of Manchester University and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment (Territorial Force) on October 12, 1914. He joined the 2/9th Battalion in training at Southport and moved with them to Pease Pottage in June 1915. He was made temporary Lieutenant on August 9, 1915. On October 13, 1915 he embarked for Gallipoli with 10 other Officers, arriving at Mudros on October 24th and joined the Battalion on Cape Helles on October 26, 1915. Upon arrival it was found that two Officers already serving at Gallipoli were of a junior rank and so he relinquished his temporary appointment.

He came through Gallipoli unscathed and sailed with the Battalion to Egypt, arriving on January 18, 1916. On February 26, 1916 he was made temporary Lieutenant and was promoted to Lieutenant on June 1, 1916. On July 23, 1916 he was awarded 35 days home leave in the UK. Two months after rejoining the Battalion he attended a course of instruction at Zeitoun for just over 3 weeks. On January 31, 1917 he left the Battalion for Port Said as part of the Advance Party, under Major RB Nowell, tasked with making all necessary preparations for the Battalion’s imminent departure to France.

He disembarked in France on February 10, 1917 and rejoined the Battalion a month later on March 17th. He left the Battalion to attend the 42nd Division Bombing School on May 30, 1917 and rejoined them 18 days later after spending an extra week sick in hospital. He attended a course of instruction in August and on September 7, 1917 left for 11 days home leave in the UK. On February 16, 1918 he transferred to the 1/5th Manchesters and was struck off the strength of the Battalion.

After the war, in 1921, he sailed to South Africa and was at that time employed as a Manufacturer’s Representative. While in South Africa he met and married Mary Barkley Denne, the daughter of a Major in the Royal Artillery who had emigrated to South Africa putting his knowledge of explosives to use in the mining industry. Oscar Needham lived in South Africa, with his wife, working as a salesman in the mining industry until his death in Johannesburg on July 22, 1965. Lt. Oscar Stockton Needham was 72 years old.