Appleton S.

Driver 21609 Sidney Appleton, 'D' Battery, 92nd Brigade, The Royal Field Artillery

Killed in action, 29th September, 1917

Sidney Appleton (more correctly David Sidney W. J. E. Appleton) was born in 1890 in Seamer, (Stokesley Parish). His parents were Robert Appleton, a blacksmith, also born in Seamer and Hannah (nee Barr), born in Bilsdale. From census records, it is clear that Sidney had 1 brother, Ernest, and 1 half brother, Frederick Arthur Barr, (both of whom also fought in WW1) and 3 sisters; Ada, Lily and Violet. (All the children had multiple Christian names).

For further information about this family, see Barr F.A.

In 1911 Sidney was a 'servant' at Brooksides farm, Little Ayton. According to “Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914 – 1918”, which purports to list every fatality amongst the British Forces, he enlisted at Middlesbrough and served as a driver first in The Royal Horse Artillery and later in The Royal Field Artillery.

Interestingly, it seems that Sidney’s brother Ernest may have gone with him to enlist, as Ernest also became a driver in the Royal Field Artillery and his regimental number was 21608, the number directly prior to that of his brother. (Ernest was sent to France at the same time as Sidney and was the only survivor of three young men of the Appleton/Barr family that served in the Great War).

Driver Sidney Appleton fought in France and Belgium. The Stokesley Book of Remembrance records that Sidney Appleton was formerly a 'gentleman's servant' and that he arrived in France on 21st June 1915. It also reports that he was wounded at Pilckem Ridge (29th July -2nd August) and (somewhat inaccurately?) that he died 29th October 1917. However, the Medal Roll indices show that both brothers landed in France on 24th July 1915, while the Commonwealth War Graves Commission states that Sidney Appleton was killed in action on 29th September 1917, which is the date on his headstone. (Click on the Boezinge Cemetery link below).

As the Battle of Pilckem Ridge was the most notable action between July and October 1915 in this area, the report on his wounding is probably accurate. The 92nd Brigade was attached to the 20th (Light) Division. The division also saw action in 1916 at Mount Sorrell, Delville Wood, Guillemont, Fleurs-Courcelette, Morval and Transloy.

In 1917, Driver Appleton's Division was in action at Langemarck, Menin Road Bridge, Polygon Wood and the Cambrai operations. It is clear from the location of his burial that Driver Appleton was indeed involved in the fighting along the Yser Canal north of Ypres, but no major operation seems to coincide with the date of his death. It seems probable therefore that, like the majority of those who died on this part of the front, Sidney Appleton was a casualty of the attritional aspect of trench warfare rather than having died in an offensive.

Driver Appleton was 27 years old when he fell. He was awarded the British Medal, Victory Medal and the 1915 Star. His body lies in plot II A 4, the Welsh Cemetery (Caesar's Nose), one of several burial grounds that comprise the Boezinge Cemetery in Belgium.

He is also remembered on the Newby War Memorial

Go to next soldier: Atkinson A.L.

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