Private Sidney CLAYTON


Regiment/Service:
North Staffordshire Regiment
(Formerly: Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment))
Unit:
4th Battalion ("A" Company)
Service Number:
42890
(Fly: 106980 Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regt))
(Fly.: TR/6/15215; Fly.: 89509 - 246th T.R. Reserve)
Date of Death:
29 September 1918 - Died of wounds
Age:
19
Cemetery / Memorial:
Memorial Reference:
Panel 124

Personal History:
Sidney was born in the June quarter 1899, the son of William (Labourer) and Sarah Jane Clayton. He had four older brothers and sisters, William, Caroline, Arthur and Edith May, and five younger, Eva, Helen, Stanley, Leslie and Mabel.
In 1911 the family was still living at 2 Oddfellows Cottages, Market Street, Buxton, where they were when Sidney was born. By the time of his enlistment in 1917 Sidney's family home had moved to 14 South Avenue, Buxton and he gave his occupation as "Plumber". At that time he was 5 ft. 7 ins. (1.72 m) tall. 

Military History:
Sidney enlisted in the Sherwood Foresters at Bakewell, Derbyshire, on the 4th July 1917.  Despite his Service papers having survived they are frustratingly lacking in detail. They appear to suggest that he joined the "246th Territorial Reserve Battalion". Up to 27th October 1917, this was known as 246th Graduated Battalion and had no regimental affiliation. Before that it had been 15th Battalion of the Training Reserve. A training unit based at Thoresby, it was part of 208th Brigade in 69th Division. It spent January to April 1918 at Doncaster and then moved to Welbeck, where it remained. After the 27th October 1917 the 246th became the 51st (Graduated) Battalion.

Sidney's Medal Index Card, however, does not give a date for when he was posted to France, but this could have been when he transferred to the North Staffordshire Regiment. The 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion had landed at Le Havre on the 7th October 1917 and placed under the command of 167th Brigade in 56th (London) Division. On 15th November 1917 it was transferred to 106th Brigade in 35th Division and on the 3rd February 1918 transferred again to 105th Brigade in same Division.

Bearing in mind his enlistment date it is likely that Sidney would have joined the Battalion before it was engaged in The Battle of Ypres, 28th September - 2nd October 1918, at the start of the Final Advance in Flanders. 

                               


The War Diary for the 4th Battalion for the first two days of this Battle reads as follows:

"CASSELL  28th September:   The Batt. took part in an attack for the first time since it came to FRANCE. Assembly was completed successfully by 03:00 a.m. The objectives of the Batt. 'TRIANGULAR BLUFF - BUFFS BANK'. Zero was at 05:30 a.m. by 08:00 a.m. the Batt had gained all objectives, capturing some 300 prisoners. 1 field gun, 1 heavy + 2 light trench mortars, 10 machine guns. Casualties Capt M D GIB, Capt W L HARRILD, 2Lt H D BRAND wounded. 5 OR's killed, 29 wounded, 4 missing. The behaviour of all ranks throughout the battle was magnificent. The Battalion was complimented on its work by Brigade & Divisional commanders. Night spent in consolidating the position.

The following officers took part: In command Lt Col D. M. B. HALL, Adjutant W. L. HARRILD (attached 12th London R), Intelligence Officer 2Lt. H. BARRETT, Signalling Officer 2Lt. P. G. CALLADINE, Medical Officer Lt. J. J. HUGHES (RAMC). Coy Commanders Capt. S. J. WORSLEY MC, Lt. B. C. NORMAN, Capt. M. D. GIB, Lt. H. WOODWARD, MM, Platoon Commanders 2Lt. T. H. PRESTON, 2Lt. W. G. BARNES, 2Lt. B. C. WHISTLER, 2Lt. S. E. GOODYER, 2Lt. S. WILLIAMS, 2Lt. H. H. PICKFORD, Lt. HOLMES, 2Lt. A. L. JOHNSON, 2Lt. R. TURLEY, 2Lt F. E. CORP, 2Lt. H. D. BRAND, Lt. J. E. HUDSON. Lt. C. S. DYER appointed acting adjutant, 2Lt. H. BARRETT, acting asst adjt. 2Lt. O. LLOYD Intelligence Officer.

29th September:  At 05:30 a.m. the Battalion moved to KLEIN ZILLEBEKE from thence to ZANDVOURDE which latter place was reported to be held by us but was in reality held by the enemy. The Brigade was held up outside ZANDVOURDE by MG fire. The 15th Cheshire Regiment attacked unsuccessfully at 12:30 p.m. At 3 p.m. the 4th N Staffs + 15th Sherwood Foresters attacked ZANDVOURDE. The Battalion was met by heavy MG fire on coming over ZANDVOURDE RIDGE which caused the leading Coy's to lose direction slightly. This however was at once rectified and the Batt advanced under very heavy MG fire and captured ZANDVOURDE.  The night was spent consolidating the ground gained on the line ZANDVOURDE - TENBRIELEN.

Casualties are as follows 2Lt. B. C. WHISTLER killed; Lt. B. C. NORMAN and 2Lt. T. H. PRESTON died of wounds. OR's 17 killed, 143 wounded, 24 missing." The diary of for the 15th Sherwoods has not much more to add but that the Machine Gun fire seemed to have been from long range so obviously very effective. Also that the village was taken by 2:55 p.m.

Sidney died on the 29th of wounds received either that day or the day before. The CWGC Records show that 21 Officers and men of the 4th Battalion were killed in action on the 28th and 29th September. The fact that Sidney's grave was ultimately lost (he is now commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial) points to him being buried close to the front line at a site subsequently lost.

Sources:
· I am grateful to Simon Dew for the information from the Battalion War Diary.
· I am grateful to Judy Rieck for the photo of Sidney's name on the Tyne Cot Memorial

Link to CWGC Record
Tyne Cot Memorial
Private S Clayton's name on the Memorial
poppy
..... about the Battle of Ypres