Captain Gerald SIDEBOTHAM


Regiment/Service:
Cheshire Regiment
Unit:
1st/4th Battalion (Territorial)
Service Number:
n/a
Date of Death:
9 March 1918 - Killed in Action
Age:
25
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Number:
M. 94



Personal History:
Gerald was born in Brimington, Cheshire on 3rd August 1893, the son of John James (Solicitor) and Elizabeth Emily Sidebotham, later of 7 Brazenose Street, Manchester.

In 1891 (Census RG 13/3297) he was living at Park House, Turncroft Lane, Stockport. He had two older siblings, Beatrice M. and John Frith, a younger brother, Jonathan, and a younger sister, Winifred. 

Gerald boarded at Haileybury School, Hertford between 1907 and 1910. In 1911 (Census RG 14/21384) Gerald was living with his family at Macauley House, Davenport Crescent, Stockport and employed as a "Solicitor's Articled Clerk" no doubt in his father's business. After the War CWGC Records show Geralds's parents living at 45 Gayton Rd., Harrow, Middlesex.

It is not known when Gerald moved to Buxton, but Probate Records give his address in the town as 4 Rochester Terrace. This is quite a prestigous address and it could be that he had opened a branch of his family's Solicitors firm in the town.

His effects, left to his father, amounted to 870 12s. 7d. [870.63]. (A relative value value of about 37,010.00 today - 2016.)


Military History:
Gerald joined up at the outbreak of the War and the London Gazette (25th August 1914) announced Gerald appointment as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 1/4 Cheshires, effective from the following day.

Initially the Battalion was based in Birkenhead, part of Cheshire Brigade, Welsh Division, but moved immediately on mobilisation to Shrewsbury and Church Stretton and by the end of August 1914 had moved to Northampton. In December 1914 it moved again to Cambridge and by March 1915 was at Bedford.

Gerald's Medal Index Card confirms his movement with the Battalion on 13th May 1915 as part 159th Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division. It sailed in July 1915 from Devonport, going via Alexandria to Gallipoli where it landed on 9th August 1915. In December 1915 it was withdrawn from Gallipoli and moved to Egypt. Gerald was wounded in the wrist at Gallipoli on 27th August 1915, but it is not thought this was very serious.

In February 1916, he received news that his older brother, John Frith Sidebotham, then serving as a Lieutenant with the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry, had been killed in action - see Footnote below. The following month, Gerald was permanently promoted from 2nd Lieutenant to Lieutenant  and the London Gazette of 20th April 1916 carried the announcement: "Lt. Gerald Sidebotham to be temp. Capt. (with effect from) 5th Feb., 1916".

Later that year Gerald was wounded at Suvla Bay, 9th August 1916. His Battalion had landed on the 6th and: "... though soft after three weeks on board ship, and tired after a sleepless night, were still perfectly capable of sustained effort." However, it was not until after Q.M.S. Fred Weston found a box of maps on the beach that they even knew they were in Suvla Bay! The Brigade Major at that time was Captain (later Colonel) Arthur Crookendon [see Sources below]. He originally refused to attack without time to talk to his Officers, and was threatened with arrest. On the 10th August the Battalion did attack "W" and Green Hills, though without a clear plan of attack. It lost 9 Officers killed, 7 wounded and 20 other ranks killed, 117 wounded and 289 missing.

By 1918, the major actions against the Turkish Army in Palestine were drawing to a close, but operations still continued in the Jordan Valley. An advance on a 13 mile (20.9 kms) wide front, either side of the Jerusalem to Nablus road was ordered. The 1/4th Battalion was tasked with clearing a narrow ridge running from Munatir to Kefr Malik. Crookenden's Regimental History of the Cheshire Regiment describes the action:

"The 4th Battalion moved off just after dark on 8th March. The advance had to be commenced in single file and it took some six hour to cross the wadi and climb Morris Hill where it was possible to form up and deploy. It was still pitch dark when the Turkish post on the top of the hill opened heavy rifle fire which, however, went well over the heads of the attacking companies. The advance was now quickened, although, as the men were tired and out of breath, progress was still comparatively slow. However, for the last seventy or eighty yards, a somewhat breathless charge with fixed bayonets was organised. The enemy did not wait to try conclusions hand to hand."

It was now beginning to get light and the Turks could be seen retreating about half a mile away. Most of the battalion had become mixed up, but "C" Company was intact and was immediately ordered forward to seize the position to which enemy was retiring.

The History continues "While this attack was in progress, the remainder of the Battalion, crowded behind the summit of Munatir, came under fire from 77mm guns to the north and enfilade fire from a machine gun on the other side of the wadi, on the right or eastern flank. As it was quite impossible to get across the wadi to the high ground on which the enemy gun was posted, a couple of Lewis guns were told off to deal with it. This Turkish machine gun inflicted numerous casualties, among whom was Captain G Sidebotham."

Along with Gerald, 5 Privates if the 1/4th Battalion were killed in action on the 9th September 1918. All now lie in Jerusalem War Cemetery.

Footnote:
· Gerald's older brother, Lieutenant John Frith SIDEBOTHAM, served with the 6th Battalion, Kings Shropshire Light Infantry.
   He was killed in action on the 12th February 1916 and is buried in Grave III. Q. 4., White House Cemetery, St. Jean-Les-Ypres.

Sources:
· I am grateful to John Hartley for allowing me to use material from his excellent website MORE THAN A NAME - the stories of Stockport's fallen
· I am also grateful to The War Graves Photographic Project for the photo of Gerald's Grave.
· "The History of the Cheshire Regiment in the Great War" - Col. Arthur Crookenden [ISBN-13: 978-1845741402] pps. 173 - 177 and 206 - 208

Link to CWGC Record
The Jerusalem Cemetery
Capt. Sidebotham's Grave
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