From A District at War by Neil Drum & Pete Thomas

From A District at War by Neil Drum & Pete Thomas

Private Sydney Samuel Foster (Service no. 21794) served with the 3rd Battalion, The Grenadier Guards, 2nd (Guards) Brigade, Guards Division. He was born in mid-1893 at Carrington, Cheshire, the son of Percy Algernon and Elizabeth Ann Foster (nee Yarwood). He had four older sisters; Ada (born 1883), Dora (1885), Margaret (1889) and Juliet (1891), and a younger brother; Percy (1895). Their father, Percy, died in 1899, and one year later Elizabeth remarried. In 1901, all the children, with the exception of Sydney, were living with their mother and her new husband. Sydney was sent to live with 1916 Page 188 his grandparents, Samuel and Ellen Yarwood, at the Old School House, Carrington. Also living at the house was their daughter, Ruth (born 1880). His grandmother, Ellen, later moved to 34 Hayes Road, Cadishead, while his uncle and aunt, John and Bertha Hardie (nee Yarwood), lived next door. He was educated at Cadishead Wesleyan Day School and was also a regular attendee at the chapel. He was employed as a locomotive driver at Partington coaling basin, Manchester Ship Canal. He was described as a finely built young fellow. He enlisted at Manchester in 1915 into the Grenadier Guards and in 1916 he was posted to the 3rd Grenadiers in France. A few days before he died he wrote a cheerful letter to his aunt and elderly and sick grandmother in which he said there was no likelihood of his getting leave granted, as some of his comrades had been out since the Battle of Loos in 1915 and had not been home. He was sorry to read that several local soldiers had been taken prisoner, but hoped they would not have too bad a time: ‘I don’t think anybody knows how long or how short the war will be. It is getting terrible out here, but that’s all I know about. The guns are roaring like thunder night and day. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t hear from me for a few days. We have had a brass band playing selections for us at night. I hope I shall see you before long, and that this terrible war will be over. We have travelled a lot, and I have seen thousands of soldiers from all over England but no one that I knew. I have seen some of the Cheshires. I wish I was there or close to it’ (Cheshire is only across the Ship Canal from Hayes Road where he lived). In another letter home he said ‘I hope my luck will stick to me, I think it will in answer to my grandmother’s prayers.’ Sadly this was not to be the case. On 14th September 1916, the battalion was in assembly positions east of Ginchy on the Somme. At 6.20am on the following day they advanced as part of the Guards Brigade attack towards Lesboeufs, but before the battalion had reached and cleared the first objective it had sustained heavy casualties. On 16th September the battalion was relieved and withdrawn to Bernafay Wood. It had suffered 412 casualties during this period. Official records list Sydney’s date of death as Thursday, 14th September 1916, however, it has never been exactly established when he died. He was certainly killed in the above attack, sometime between 14th and 17th September 1916 at the age of 23. He is buried in the Serre Road Cemetery No. 2, Beaumont Hamel, Somme, France, but the exact location of his grave within the cemetery is unknown. He is therefore commemorated on a special memorial headstone which states ‘Buried near this spot.’ He is also commemorated on the Manchester Ship Canal War Memorial. The local newspaper reported that ‘he was deservedly held in high regard by all who knew him.’ His death was keenly felt by his relatives and friends. His grandmother was then 81 years old and in feeble health.

Created by: Pete160211

  • Profile picture for Sidney Foster

    Died 1916

    British Army 21794 Private Grenadier Guards