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A.G. Newton was a writer (3rd class) and crew member of H.M.S. Theseus, an Edgar-class protected cruiser which was commissioned in 1896. He was a member of the punitive expedition agains King Ovonramwen, ruler of Benin. The Naval expedition was put together in February 1897 following the murder of members of a British diplomatic mission in the territory, including the British-consul General J.R. Phillips. The Naval Brigade was under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Bruce Hamilton. 551 members of H.M.S. Theseus's crew took part in this expedition and a considerable amount of fighting took place in jungle conditions.
As a writer A.G. Newton's role was to document the part played by the complement of H.M.S. Theseus, but he would have carried arms and been involved in the fighting. Action began on 6th February and following the capture of Gwato and Sapabo, Benin city was reached and taken on 17th February 1897. However, A.G. Newton and the Naval Brigade did not return to their ship until August 1897, when the territory had been pacified. Apparently, many members of the Naval Brigade suffered from malaria during and following the expedition.
The rank of writer 3rd class is scarce amongst members of the Benin expedition, as most would have been Ordinary Seamen and Marines. Altogether the number of ship personnel involved in the Benin Naval Brigade amounted to 1400.
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