Unit: 4th Battalion
Service Number: 202413
Date of Death: 19 October 1918 – Died
Age: 24 years
Cemetery / Memorial: Lincoln (Newport) Cemetery
Grave / Panel Ref.: C. D1. Pink 36.
Sydney was born in the September quarter 1896, the son of Charles (Schoolmaster) and Louisa (née Barrell) (Schoolmistress) Beattie of School House, High Street, Ruskington, Lincolnshire (1901 Census RG 13/3048). He had an older brother, Cecil, born 25 September 1893. [See Footnote below]
In 1911 (Census RG 14/19618) the family were at the same Ruskington address, in the house alongside the School where Sydney’s parents were teachers.
[N.B. The postcard left dates from about 1920. The School House is on the left.]
In the September quarter 1917 Sydney married Helen Ada Harston, probably in St. Nicholas’ Church, Lincoln. However, she died a year later, on 15th October 1918, and was buried on 19th, the same day that Sydney died in the 4th Northern General Hospital in Lincoln. He was buried with her 4 days later.
Sydney’s Pension Record gives the cause of death as “Pneumonia“, possibly related to the influenza epidemic prevalent at the time. Maybe when visiting her husband in hospital Helen also contracted the disease.
Sydney’s total effects, returned to his father, amounted to just 2s. 0d. [10p]. His mother, Louisa, died at 20 Davenport Avenue, Bispham, Blackpool, on 17 October 1945, aged 76. Her widowed husband, Charles, died at 9 Monks Road, Lincoln, on 13 October 1949, aged 82. His estate was left to his surviving son, Cecil, by then an “Accountant“.
Louisa and Charles are buried together in Grave F.137, Lincoln (Newport) Cemetery (left).
Sydney enlisted in the 4th (Territorial Force) Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment on or about 25 July 1916 (according to his Service Number) at Newport, Monmouth. At the time he was resident in Ruskington, Lincolnshire.
The 3/4th Battalions was initially formed at home bases on 1 June 1915 and on 8 April 1916 it became the 4th Reserve Battalions. This was a training and recuperation unit, and never as a unit went overseas – so there is no diary and very little information. When a man was fully trained or fully fit, he was transferred to one of the four active territorial units.
On 15 August 1914 “The Sleaford Gazette” reported the mobilisation of the 4th Territorial Battalion under the title “THE TERRITORIALS – Leave Lincoln for Belper – STRIKING SCENES OF FAREWELL” as follows:
“The organisation of the Territorial forces being complete, the 4th Battalion Lincs. Regt. left Lincoln during Tuesday morning [i.e. 11 August] for Belper, near Derby, where they are to ln undergo further training before being finally disposed of. By request of the War Office and the Press Committee, we publish no details as to the ultimate destination and duties which the Battalion will be called upon to perform. The Battalion is now complete, and the men presented a very soldierly appearance, which attracted most favourable comment, as they passed through the Lincoln streets.”
His 1/4th Battalion had originally landed at Le Havre on 1 March 1915, and on 7 January 1916 moved with the Division from Marseilles to Egypt. On 4 February 1916 it embarked at Alexandria and returned to France. Sydney has no Medal Index Card, so did not see service overseas, nor have his Service Papers survived.
His Records show that on the 19 October 1918 Sydney ‘Died‘ in the Military Hospital, Lincoln, whilst based at the 4th Battalion ‘Depot’. The Battalion had their Headquarters at the Drill Hall, Lincoln. After the War Sydney’s mother, Louisa, received a small pension for the loss of her son. The Pension Records Card gives the cause of death as “pneumonia“, quite possibly as a result of the influenza epidemic rife at the time.
The 4th Northern General Hospital in Lincoln occupied the old buildings and fields of the former Lincoln School (now Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School).
It held 41 Officers and 1,126 Other Ranks beds with over 45,000 men being treated there during the war. Lincoln (Newport) Cemetery, near the hospital, contains 139 First World War burials.
Sydney was buried on the 23rd in what is now the CWGC Plot in Lincoln (Newport) Cemetery. The Cemetery also contains the grave of Cpl. Charles Richard Sharpe, 2nd Battn, Lincolnshire Regiment, who was awarded the Victoria Cross on 9 May 1915. He died of natural causes on 18 February 1963.
On 21 May 1918 Cecil married Ethel May Stone at St Bartholomew’s Church, Ducklington-with-Hardwick, Oxfordshire. Cecil died in the September quarter 1958 in Ealing, Middlesex, Ethel two years later in Avonbank, Perth County, Ontario, Canada.
- I am grateful to the British War Graves for the photo of Sydney’s grave
- BBC Lincolnshire for the photo of The Drill Hall.
- “The Sleaford Gazette“, 15 August 1914