Unit: 416th Field Company
Service Number: 10887
Date of Death: 30 August 1918 – Died of wounds
Age: 24 years
Cemetery / Memorial: Bac-Du-Sud British Cemetery, Bailleuval
Grave Reference: III. C. 23.
When Sidney enlisted in December 1915 he gave his age as “33 years 3 months“, indicating he was born about September 1882 (Another section of his Service Papers indicate he was born in South Rauceby, Lincolnshire, on or about 15 October 1882). His height was recorded as 5 ft. 3 ins. [1.60 m.] and he weighed 9 st. 4 lbs. [59 kgs.].
At the time of his enlistment Sidney he was living at 10 Morten Street, Grantham, the home of his sister, Mrs Ethel Heath. However, his next-of-kin was given as his father, William, of Ruskington. William had only recently moved to the village from South Rauceby (see below), probably not long before the death of his wife, Annie, in August 1915.
The 1891 Census (RG 12/2580) shows Sidney living with his parents, William (Draper) and Annie Dawson, at 19 Village Street, South Rauceby, along with older siblings, Edgar Hodson (born 1875), Mary Ada (1877) and Harold (1880). Other older siblings, William Arthur (born 1871) and Ethel Annie (1874) , had already left home. Another brother, Percy, died, aged 1, in January 1886.
Ten years later (1901 Census RG 13/3051) only Harold and Sidney were still at the family home, where Sidney was employed as an “Apprentice Joiner“. By 1911, however, he had moved to 33 Grantley Street, Grantham, the home of his sister, Ethel, her husband, Charles (Heath) and their family.
Sidney’s father, William, died in late November 1918 and is buried next to Annie in Grave B.22, Ruskington Cemetery. This must have been a traumatic time for Ethel, who also received Sidney’s Personal Effects, amounting to £5 10s 6d [£5.52] on 26 November. A further ‘War Gratuity’ of £11 followed in 1919.
Sidney enlisted in the Royal Engineers, at Grantham, Lincolnshire, on 10 December 1915 and posted to the Army Reserve two days later. He was mobilised on 10 August 1916, at Chatham, Kent, and his occupation of ” Carpenter and Joiner – Skilled ” was noted on his Service Record.
Sidney’s first posting was to ‘C’ Company, Reserve Battalion, on 26 August 1916, and then to the General Base Depot, No. 30, on 20 March 1917, in preparation for being posted to the B.E.F. in France. This took place on 15 June 1917 when Sidney was posted to the 416th Field Company.
The 416th, 1st (Edinburgh) Company, was originally a Fortress Company and had been posted to Egypt in December 1915 , and there attached as Army Troops. The Company moved to France and joined 56th (London) Division in May 1916 where Sidney would have joined it. At the time of Sidney’s death 56th (London) Division was engaged in The Battle of the Scarpe (26 – 30 August 1918) a phase of the Second Battle of Arras (26 August – 3rd September) and it was in this action that he probably suffered the wounds from which he died.
Sidney died in the 45th Casualty Clearing Station, at Bailleulval, on 30 August 1918 after receiving ” Gun Shot Wounds – Chest “. In total he had served 2 years 264 days with the Colours, the final 1 year 164 days in France.
He was buried in Grave III. C. 23., Bac-Du-Sud British Cemetery, Bailleuval, near to the CCS where he died. The Cemetery contains 688 Commonwealth burials of the First World War.
It is, of course, unlikely that he ever lived in Ruskington and his parents did only at the end of their lives, which would account for why his name does not appear on any of village War Memorials.
- I am grateful to The War Graves Photographic Project for the photo of Sidney’s grave in Bac-Du-Sud British Cemetery, plus the view of the Cemetery.
- I am also grateful to Charles Anderson for making me aware of this village related casualty and supplying the photo of his grave in Ruskington Cemetery.