Sidney George Smith

Sidney George Smith
Born at St Ives in 1892, Walter was one of nine children delivered to Walter and Amelia (née Pickering), two of whom died in infancy. Sidney's father died in 1900 aged 47yrs, when Sidney was aged 7yrs. In 1901 four of the children plus a granddaughter were living at Oaklands Terrace, St Ives. Walter's mother worked as a charwoman. By 1911 they had moved to Green Lane, St Ives, Sidney working as a general labourer.

Sidney was in the local court in 1913, one of five St Ives lads caught gambling on a Sunday, as reported by the Hunts Post on 9 May 1913. He was in court again two months later, part of a larger group of lads accused of damaging Mr Saint's grass, reported 18 July 1913.

At some point Sidney moved to Conisbrough, South Yorkshire, to work for the Grand Central Railway Company. He met Mary Clarkson from Denaby Main, Yorkshire and they married in January 1915.

Sidney returned to Huntingdon to enlist at the beginning of the War. He landed in France at Saint-Nazaire in October 1914. By November 1914 he was in the front trenches in the thick of battle. He wrote a diary of his harrowing experiences, seeing two of his St Ives friends killed. This was published by the Hunts Post on 12 March 1915

Wounded in mid November 1914, Sidney was moved back to England for treatment. Having recovered and taken a short break to get married, he was soon back in France with the 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment and fought through some of the fiercest battles of the War.

On 1 April 1918 Sidney's Battalion was in billets at Gentelles, France. That evening they moved into the front trenches. After a quiet few hours, apart from occasional shelling, things hotted up in the afternoon. They attacked the German defences, but had to withdraw owing to overwhelming superior fire from German artillery and machine guns. Casualties were three killed, fifty-two injured and four missing.

Shell exploding
The effect of German shelling
The Battalion were back in billets to rest for a few days from 3 April 1918. Still in range of German artillery and occasionally moved up to the front trenches in support without called into action, they nevertheless suffered further casualties of nine killed and twenty-three wounded.

News that Sidney was one of these casualties was published by the Hunts Post on 12 April 1918. His left arm had been blown off. Transferred back to England and in Maidenhead Hospital, Sidney's injures were so serious his parents were wired to come quickly. By the following morning his condition had improved, as reported on 19 April 1918.

Sidney contracted pneumonia and died on Saturday 20 April 1918, aged 25yrs, with his wife present. Sidney's death was reported on 26 April 1918. He is buried at All Saints Church, Denaby Main. He is also commemorated on Denaby Main War Memorial.

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Source materials
Click any of the links below to view original source materials.
1901 Census
1911 Census
War diary, 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment
Commonwealth War Graves Register
Commemorative Certificate

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