06 April 2014

Sydney Catchpole: Home Child: commemorated by the CWGC

Today is the anniversary of the birth of Sydney Catchpole in my hometown of Great Yarmouth on 6 April 1897. The 1901 census found him an inmate of the local workhouse along with his mother Edith, a spinster aged 21. In 1910 Sydney arrived at the Port of Québec on the Corsican with a party of children from Mrs. Birt's Liverpool Sheltering Home bound for Knowlton, Quebec.

The 1911 census records him as a laborer in the North Lanark Township farm of Elijah Giles and his wife Elizabeth. there is a record of the placement having been inspected on behalf of the Board of Guardians each year from 1911 to 1915 and again in 1917 when it is noted that he is on active service.

Sydney enlists in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in September 1915 giving his abode as Clayton, Ontario, his height is 5'6" and chest 35 inches when fully expanded.

He enlisted with the 18th Battalion and trained in Kingston, Napanee, Belleville and Halifax. Arriving in England in May 1916 he was a Bramshott camp until August that year and may have been able to visit his mother who died later in the year. The Battalion moved on to France and the trenches where he spent 13 months altogether. At Vimy Ridge in February 1917 he was wounded in the face, returned to duty and the following August received a shrapnel wound in the leg at the battle of Hill 70. He was sent to Lewisham Hospital, England, for treatment and then to Bromley convalescent home, where he spent three weeks before sailing for Canada.

He arrived at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Giles in February 1918 when a large reception was held in his honor. Although still lame and his wound not healed he went to work, and shortly afterwards was operated on for appendicitis in Renfrew hospital. After he recovered he went to Ottawa to learn harness making and shoe repair and was also taking a course to enter the civil service.

Sydney Catchpole died on September 21, 1918 with cause of death given as pneumonia; that was during the 1918 flu pandemic. He is buried at Ottawa's Beechwood Cemetery, in an area newly set aside for returning Great War veterans by Ontario's Soldiers Aid Commission, one of 98 Beechwood burials recorded in Commonwealth War Graves Commission files.


Anonymous said...

Stories like this always make me cry. Poor Sidney didn't have much of a life and after all the terror and woundings he suffered in the trenches he was hailed a hero, only to die of something else. What a waste of that poor boys life. At least we now know something about him and he's not a forgotten hero.
I found I had a great Uncle who was killed in the trenches at a very young age and found it heartbreaking that less than 100 years later, none of the family knew. They do now,I've made sure of that, but I wish I could find out more about him. Archie will always be in my heart as I find I love and respect him deeply as he gave his life for a mere mortal like me. I will never be able to do anything so brave as he did.

JDR said...

War graves enquiry re wording on the tombstone was answered on April 27 1921 by his grandmother, G Catchpole, of 8 St Nicholas Terrace, Northgate St, Gt Yarmouth