Sydney John King

Date of birth: 1886
Place of birth: Hook Norton, Oxfordshire
Regiment: Somerset Light Infantry
Battalion: 8th
Rank / Service No: Private, 38690
Died: 9th April 1918, aged 32 years
Buried: Ontario Cemetery, Sains-les-Marquion, France (Plot IV, Row A, Grave 12)

 

Sydney was the fourth of 6 known siblings born to George Allen and Mary King, who married in 1877.

The couple had 8 children in total, so it must be assumed that two died in infancy.

 

The family moved from Oxfordshire to Fontley near Fareham in the late 1880’s, and were still there at the 1901 Census.

At the 1911 Census, they had moved to 27 Pond Terrace in Shirley.

 

George was born in Herefordshire in 1850 and he died in Southampton in 1932.

Mary was born in Chalford, Gloucs in 1858 and she passed away in Southampton in 1935.

 

Siblings 

Alec Edward   b. 28 January 1878 Chipping Norton   d. ??   Married Lily V. Mackenzie in Southampton in 1918.

Albert   b. 1881 Chipping Norton   d. ??

Gertrude Mary   b. 1882 Chipping Norton   d. ??   Married Walter Peagram in Fareham in 1898.

Sydney John

Frederick William   b. 16 May 1890 Fontley   d. 1967 Southampton

Ernest Charles   b. 15 August 1897 Fontley   d. ??

 

Sydney, a gardener, was boarding with one Fred Webb at The Gardens, Ampfield at the 1911 Census.

 

He originally attested into the Devonshire Regiment (#45971); it is not known when or why he transferred.

 

As part of the 63rd Brigade in the 21st Division, the 8th Somerset battalion arrived at Le Havre on 10 September 1915.

Within 2 weeks, the division had lost over 3,800 men in the British assault at Loos.

 

On 8 July 1916, the battalion transferred with the 63rd Brigade to the 37th Division. It was in this formation that they took part in the Battle of the Somme.

 

1917 saw the battalion taking part in the Arras Offensive and the Third Battle of Ypres.

 

On 5 April 1918, the 37th Division found itself based on the River Ancre near Amiens.

At 07.00, the Germans launched a gas attack against the British front trenches. At 08.00, the British infantry launched retaliatory attacks.

 

Later in the day, the division was part of the line attacked by more than 6 enemy divisions; heavy fighting took place in Rossignol Wood and the eastern half of Bucquoy village was lost.

 

The Germans lost so many men during the assault, and gained so little territorially, that they called off the attack before the end of the day.

 

It would appear that Sydney was probably captured by the Germans during this assault, because of where he was buried and the fact that a further 23 British servicemen were buried along side him.

 

He was originally buried in Oisy-le-Verger German cemetery (Grave 225) but was resited in December 1920.

 

 

Researcher: Mark Heritage
Published: 6th October 2016
Updated:

 

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