(L to R) British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal
Sid, as he was known, was born in the autumn of 1898 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He was christened on the 8th October. His father was called William and his mother was Margaret. We don't know whether he had any brothers or sisters.
William worked as a 'fuze labourer' in 1901, and the family lived at 14 Elswick Street in Newcastle. Margaret died between October and December 1909, aged 36. In 1911 William still lived at 14 Elswick Street, and worked as a skilled labourer at a steel works. Sid was not with his father the night the Census was taken; we don't know where he lived.
The First World War broke out in August 1914 and Sid left his job as a hawker to join the Army on the 15th May 1916. We don't know whether he was conscripted or volunteered. He joined the Durham Light Infantry and was given the service number 32343.
We don't know anything about Sid's service during the First World War. He served in France during 1916, but we don't know how long for or why he returned to the UK.
On the 14th May 1917 Sid was transferred to the Labour Corps. They gave him the service number 112621. We don't know exactly why he was transferred but the Labour Corps was made up of soldiers who were not fit or healthy enough to serve on the front line.
Soldiers in the Labour Corps did a wide variety of jobs, including constructing buildings and roads, moving supplies, and digging trenches or latrines. Again, we don't know exactly what Sid did or where he served.
After just 4 months Sid was transferred again. He joined the Manchester Regiment on the 26th September and was given the service number 53266.
Sid stayed with this regiment past the end of the war in November 1918. In around 1920 he was given a new service number: 3512892.
In early 1923 Sid was stationed at the Manchester Regiment Depot at Ladysmith Barracks in Ashton-under-Lyne. He held the rank of Corporal. On the 5th June he was posted to the 1st Battalion, split between the Channel Islands of Guernsey and Alderney.
Sid returned to Ashton in February 1924. He married Emma Bates at the town's Parish Church on the 9th. Back with the battalion, he was promoted to Lance Sergeant on the 28th August. At this time he was a member of B Company, which tells us he was stationed in Guernsey.
That October Sid and the 1st Battalion moved to Cologne in Germany and formed part of the British Army of the Rhine. This was their home until January 1926 when they moved to Konigstein. By April of that year Sid had been promoted to Sergeant. On the 29th he obtained the 2nd Class Army Certificate of Education.
In late 1926 Sid and his comrade Sergeant 3513665 A. Jones travelled to the Small Arms School at Hythe in Kent. Here they qualified as Training Cadre Instructors in both the Rifle and Light Automatic Wings. This meant they were qualified to train soldiers in shooting.
The 1st Battalion returned to the UK during November 1927 and was stationed at Shorncliffe in Kent. That October Sid qualified on the Vickers Machine Gun. We don't know anything else about his career until mid 1929. In this year he was 'lent' to the 10th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment to assist this Territorial Army unit with its annual training. He then became a member of the battalion's Permanent Staff. These soldiers organised and led training for the Territorials, who had civilian jobs during the day.
Later in 1929 Sid attended 'Courses of Instruction at the Military College of Science, Woolwich', London. He was awarded certificates in the use of the Lee-Enfield Rifle, Lewis Gun and Vickers Machine Gun.
By January 1932 Sid had returned to the Regimental Depot. He would be based here for the rest of his time in the Army. We believe he spent much of this time as Sergeant-in-Charge of Musketry. This was an important job, as new recruits, who might never have fired a gun before, were trained at the Depot. Sid had to turn them into capable shots.
Sid finally retired from the Army on the 14th May 1937, after 21 years. His comrades found it 'a pleasure to know that he has secured an appointment in the Territorial Army'. They hoped he would 'carry away happy memories of the Depot'. We don't know anything about Sid's appointment.
Even before he left the Army Sid had joined the Manchester Regiment Old Comrade's Association (OCA). He attended a number of reunions and dinners before the Second World War, and continued to be a keen member once peace returned in 1945.
Sid was a member of the Ashton Branch of the OCA. Their first post-war reunion was held at the Clarence Hotel in Ashton on the 12th March 1948. This became the venue for the Branch's monthly meetings.
On one occasion, during a meeting at the Regimental Depot on the 27th May 1949, Sid ran the bar all evening for the 28 members who had 'turned up with umbrellas'. It was such a wet night that 'after getting wet outside, the only solution was sit down and get wet inside'. Sid did an excellent job behind the bar, and his comrades took 'our hats off' to him.
During this period Sid and Emma lived at 27 East Street in Audenshaw, near Ashton. By 1949 he was a member of the Ashton Branch Committee. On Remembrance Sunday, the 11th November, 1950, Sid carried the Branch's banner during the parade in Manchester.
On the 17th April 1955 a new Audenshaw, Droylsden and District Branch of the OCA was formed. Charles Mutters, whose medals are also in the Museum of the Manchester Regiment collection, was the driving force behind this new branch, and became its first President. Sid seems to have left the Ashton Branch and joined this new, more local branch.
On Remembrance Sunday 1955 Sid laid a wreath at Audenshaw on behalf of the Branch. This turned out to be his final parade. Sid died on the 22nd February 1956. He was 57 years old.
Sid's funeral was held at Dukinfield Crematorium. The Sergeant's Mess at the Regimental Depot provided bearers for his coffin, as well as a bugler.
We don't believe Sid and Emma had any children. She died between January and March 1968, aged 65.
Sid's medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in August 1956.