Private George Joseph SYKES

The King's (Liverpool Regiment)
(Formerly: Royal Lancaster Regiment)
13th Battalion
Service Number:
(Fmly: 28181 Royal Lancaster Regiment)
Date of Death:
14 May 1918 - Died of wounds   
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Reference:
LXV. B. 21.

Personal History:
George was born in the June quarter 1898, the son of Joseph (House Plumber) and Charlotte Emma (née Brown) Sykes, of 1 Edinburgh Terrace, Wildboarclough, Macclesfield, Cheshire. (1901 Census RG 13/3315). He had two older sisters, Ada and Emma, and a younger brother, Stanley. (1911 Census RG 14/21498)
[George's mother, Charlotte, was born in Burbage, Buxton, in September 1870, daughter of George and Charlotte Brown (1871 Census RG 10/2885). She was living with her uncle and aunt, Thomas and Hannah Bennett, in Burbage, ten years later (1881 Census RG 11/3455) and in 1891 was working as a "Servant" at 63 West Road, Buxton. (1891 Census RG 12/2778) She married Joseph in Buxton.]

Military History:
George enlisted at Macclesfield, Cheshire. His Medal Index Card shows that he entered the War in France after 1915, as he was not eligible for the 1914/15 Star Medal. His Service papers have not survived and without them it is not possible to say what his War service postings were. However, his Service Number would suggest an enlistment date initially in Royal Lancaster Regiment about August 1916.

The 13th (Service) Battalion, King's (Liverpool Regiment) had formed at Seaforth in September 1914 as part of K3 (Kitchener's Third New Army) and attached as Army Troops to 25th Division. In February 1915 it transferred to 76th Brigade in same Division, and was posted to France, landing at Le Havre on the 27th September 1915. On the 15th October 1915 the Battalion transferred with Brigade to 3rd Division and eight days later transferred again to the 8th Brigade in same Division. On the 4th April 1916 its last transfer was to the 9th Brigade in same Division.

It is not known when Matthew transferred from the Royal Lancaster Regiment, nor when he was posted to the King's (Liverpool Regiment). However, assuming the enlistment date stated above it is not likely that he joined the 3rd Division until 1917. In that years the Division fought in four actions during the The Battle of Arras (9th April - 16th May 1917). These were The First Battle of the Scarpe, (9th - 14th April); the Second Battle of the Scarpe (23rd - 24th April); the The Battle of Arleux (28th - 29th April) and The Third Battle of the Scarpe. (3rd - 4th May), including the capture of Fresnoy.

Later in the year the Division was in action again at The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge, 20th - 25th September, followed by The Battle of Polygon Wood, 26th September - 3rd October, then The Battle of Cambrai, 20th November - 30th December 1917.

The next year George's Battalion fought at The First Battles of the Somme, from the 21st March to the 5th April 1918. In particular during The Battle of St Quentin, 21st - 23rd March, and The First Battle of Arras, on the 28th March.

During the German offensive in Flanders - Operation 'Georgette' - and the Battles of the Lys, 9th - 29th April 1918, George was in action at The Battles of Estaires, Hazebrouck and Bethune. Bearing in mind where George died of his wounds - Étaples Military Cemetery - it is more than likely that he was wounded during one of these actions and evacuated to one of the eleven general, one stationary, four Red Cross hospitals and a convalescent depot located in the town.

The CWGC records show that 59 N.C.O.s and other ranks of the 13th Battalion were killed during the Battles of the Lys, mostly between the 9th and 14th April. This links with the Battle of Estaires, 9 – 11 April, and the Battle of Hazebrouck, 12th - 15th April.

· I am grateful to Steve Godfrey for the photo of George's grave

Commemorated on:
George is also commemorated on his parents' grave in St Saviour's
   Churchyard, Wildboarclough
Link to CWGC Record
Etaples Cemetery c. 1919
Etaples Cemetery c. 1919
Pt George Sykes' grave