Private 1987 Sidney Harold Sheldon

 Sheldon Sidney 96 441x600
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Killed in Action on Wednesday, 13th October 1915, age 20.
Commemorated on Panel 73 to 76 of Loos Memorial, Pas De Calais, France.

1st/6th Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 137th Brigade of 46th Division.

Brother of Miss S. M. Sheldon, of 39, Hopkins St., Burnt Tree, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Hanley, Staffs, Enlisted: Tipton, Resident: Unknown.

First landed France & Flanders, 15th March 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on Commonwealth War Graves site.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1768837/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Sidney Harold Sheldon registered September quarter 1895 in Stoke.

1901 Census
128 Hope Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent.
John Sheldon (30, Cabinet Maker and Glass & China dealer, born West Bromwich), his wife Susan M. (29, born Dudley), and their 5 children: John S. (10, born Dudley), Joseph G. (9, born Wednesbury), Susan M. (7, born Hanley), Sidney H. (5, born Hanley), and Ernest (1, born Hanley).

1911 Census
102 Walford Road, Tividale, Tipton.
Mortimer Massey (27, Sawyer, born Dudley), his wife Susan M. (37, born Dudley), and their 5 children: Joseph G. (19, Body Maker at Tram Works, born Wednesbury), Susan M. (17, Book Binder, born Hanley), Ernest (11, School, born Hanley), Arthur (6, School, born Hanley),and Gladys (3, born Hanley).

1911 Census
44-46 Regent Road, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent.
Edward Harding (32,Butcher, born Burslem), his wife Emily Mary (33, born Hanley), and Sidney Harold Sheldon (15, Butcher's Errand Boy, born Hanley).

Personal Data

In 1908 Sidney's father, John Sheldon, died. In March quarter 1911 Sidney's mother re-married, becoming Mrs Massey, and was living in Tipton at the time of the 1911 census. Sidney was still in Hanley, working as a Butcher's Errand Boy and living in the household of his employer. There is no evidence that Sidney ever lived in Tipton, but as 'Soldiers Died in the Great War' shows Sidney enlisting in Tipton, he may well have moved here by 1914. His Medal Index Card says that he Died of Wounds, but SDGW says Killed in Action.

After Sidney's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £1/2/3d (1 pound, 2 shillings and 3 pence); this was paid to his mother, Susan M. Massey, in March 1917. His War Gratuity was £4/10/0d (4 pounds and 10 shillings), this was also paid to his mother in September 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Sidney had enlisted in approximately August 1914.

Action resulting in his death

The 1/6th South Staffs arrived in France between the 3rd and 5th March 1915. They moved to Armentieres on 20th March and then to Fletre for further training. In April the battalion marched to Wulveringhem in Belgium alternating between trench duties and further training. In June 1915 they moved nearer to Ypres, and for the next 2 months spent time at the feared Hill 60.

On 2nd October the 1/6th moved back into France to take part in the second stage of the Loos Offensive. Further training preceded the march to the assembly trenches near Vermelles on 12th October.

At noon on 13th October, a fine sunny day, the attack commenced. The 1/5th and 1/6th South Staffs were to attack the West Face of the heavily defended Hohenzollern Redoubt, from the trench known as Big Willie which was already partly held by the 1/5th South Staffs. The South Staffs battalions were to attack in 4 waves; 'B' and 'C' companies of the 1/5th, followed by 'A' and 'D' companies of the 1/5th, followed by 'A' and 'C' companies of the 1/6th, and finally 'B' and 'D' companies of the 1/6th.

The first wave hardly got out of their trench due to devastating machine gun fire decimating their number. The second wave made their advance unaware of the disaster in front of them and suffered similarly high casualties. The third wave followed on as ordered, as they too were unaware of the situation in front due to lack of communication and the smoke intended to mask the South Staffs advance. The fourth wave also took losses, but at this point the attack was called off.

The 1/5th South Staffs, who provided the first and second waves, had over 100 men killed on the day or died from wounds in the next week. The 1/6th South Staffs, who provided the third and fourth waves, lost over 125 men. The attack was a costly failure and this in effect was the culmination of the Battle of Loos. This was the single most expensive day for the 46th (North Midlands) Division, even though it was involved in July 1st 1916 at Gommecourt. The Division had casualties of 180 Officers and 3583 Other Ranks. As Edmonds wrote in the Official History ".. it was a long time before the Division recovered from the effects of 13th October."

Sidney Sheldon, like the majority of the men killed here, has no known grave and is commemorated on the Loos Memorial at Dud Corner, in sight of the Hohenzollern Redoubt.

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