Sydney James Avory

Sydney James Avory

Born at St Ives in 1899, Sydney was the only son among four daughters delivered to James, a labourer at the local gas works, and Kate (née Watson). The family home was at Filberts Walk. Another branch of the family lived in Filberts Walk, their son James Avory also killed in the War.

Sydney worked as a butcher's apprentice. In November 1914 he enlisted with the Hunts Cyclists Home Service Battalion. He lied about his age, since he was still only aged 15yrs and the minimum age was 17yrs. He was engaged on patrolling in the local area. Clearly keen to go to war, at a recruitment meeting in St Ives in January 1915 he gave his name for enrolment, as reported in the Hunts Post on 8 January 1915.  He found himself with the Bedfordshire Yeomanry Reserve by November 1915, then transferred to the Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment). His final posting was with the 2nd/20th London Regiment.

It's uncertain when Sydney landed in France. It may have been as late as mid 1918. Certainly from that time onwards he was heavily engaged in battle as part of the Hundred Days Offensive, a series of rapid Allied victories from August to November 1918 which pushed the Germans out of France and ended the War.

For Sydney, the first few days of November 1918 were relatively quiet. On 2 November his battalion moved out of the front lines and into reserve. After a couple of days they advanced into a support position near the village of Houilly. The enemy periodically shelled them with gas overnight. On 5 November there was considerable German shelling throughout day and night, a combination of high explosives and gas. This continued the following day, causing four casualties.

German shell WW1
Impact of a German shell on British trenches
One of these casualties was Sydney. He must have been seriously injured, either poisoned by gas or hit by shrapnel. He died within a few hours, recorded as killed in action on Wednesday 6 November 1918, aged 19yrs. It was just five days before the end of the War. Sydney is buried at Obies Communal Cemetery, France and commemorated on Hemingford Grey War Memorial.

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Source materials
Click any of the links below to view original source materials.
1901 Census
1911 Census
1914 Attestation Form
1915 Attestation Form
War diary, 2nd/20th London Regiment
Medal Rolls Index Card
Commonwealth War Graves Register
Commemorative Certificate

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