Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Lance Corporal Alf Sydney (1891-1917)

Image © & courtesy of Peter Sloan

Afred Sydney was born in 1891 at Workington in West Cumberland, the seventh of ten children of a brickworks fireman Charles Sydney and his wife Mary Ann. He enlisted with the 11th (Lonsdale Pals) Service Battalion of the Border Regiment (Regimental Number 17399), probably in late 1914. The battalion spending some months training at Blackhall Camp (the former Carlisle Racecourse) before moving to Prees Heath Camp in Shropshire in May 1915, with huge crowds assembling for the send-off in the Carlisle streets. Christopher Szigeti's "Story of John Bardgett and the 11th (Service) Battalion Border Regiment The Lonsdales" provides some detail of history of the battalion, as well some interesting pictures of the training. In June, they moved again to Wensleydale in Yorkshire, and then to the Salisbury Plain, where they assembled with the 32nd Division in preparation for crossing to the continent in late November on board the Princess Victoria.

Alf was wounded on the first day of the Battle of the Somme and spent time recovering at a convalescent hospital in Alnwick, Northumberland. He was killed in action on 10th July at the Battle of Nieuport-Lombardzyde, during a surprise early morning attack by the Germans on British positions (Detailed account). His body was never recovered, and his name is commemmorated on the Nieuport Memorial, near the town of Nieuwpoort.

Image © & courtesy of The Lonsdale Pals Battalion Web Site
Alf Sydney's inscription on the Nieuport Memorial
Image © & courtesy of The Lonsdale Pals Battalion Web Site

This portrait was taken by Mower & Co. of 10a Westgate Street, Bath, the firm's name having been blind-stamped onto the card. It seems likely that it was taken after his being wounded on the Somme and subsequent convalescence in England, perhaps in late 1916 or early 1917. Many thanks to Peter Sloan for sending this image and providing the background information about his great-uncle Alf Sydney.

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