Sydney Charles Shipston – a keen cricketer

Early life & family – Sydney was born in the summer of 1892, the middle of five children of Thomas and Maria Shipston, in Fleet Road, Hampstead. His father was a parquet floor layer and his mother was a dressmaker. By 1901 the family had moved to 1 Lutton Terrace, Hampstead where they lived until after the War.

Sydney was a pupil at Hampstead Parochial School. We don’t know anything about his years at school, except that he was an excellent school cricketer.

By 1911 Sydney, age 18, was working as an outside porter for a provision merchant. We don’t know who his employer was. He might have been moving foodstuffs around at one of the markets, or he might have been delivering groceries to customers’ homes in Hampstead; or anything in-between. It seems as if he may have preferred a practical outdoor way of life to working in an office.

War service – When War was declared Sydney joined up as a Private in the East Surrey Regiment (Service number 5736). He joined one of the Regular battalions – the 2nd Bn, which was returning from service in India. Recruits from the Territorial Force were used to fill gaps in the ranks of Regular soldiers. He trained with the battalion at Winchester, as part of 85th Brigade, 28th Division, and his Division landed in France in Jan 1915. They were quickly put into the forefront of the fighting.

We don’t know whether Sydney ever played cricket in the army although, during the war, we know that British troops on the western front organised cricket matches whenever they could.

Death & commemoration

Sydney was killed at the first battle of Ypres on 8 May 1915, at the age of 23, after only 15 weeks at the front. The numbers in his Division who were killed, wounded or missing were horrendous; in one battalion, only 200 out of the original 1,000 men were alive and accounted for after 5 days fighting.

His death is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial (Panel 34), and also on the Memorial in Hampstead Parochial School.

This page was last updated on November 24th, 2014.

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