The Men from Hyde – Sydney Hubert Seeviour

(written as ‘Sidney’ on the memorial)

Sydney Hubert Seeviour was born in 1888 in Holdenhurst, near Bournemouth. His parents Joseph and Eliza Bessie (nee Bruffett or similar) had married locally in 1879.

The parents cannot be traced in the 1881 census.  In the 1891 census, Sydney is aged 2 and living at 3, West Cliff Grove in Holdenhurst with his parents and siblings.  Joseph is aged 34 and a ‘cab proprietor’; Eliza is 32.  Sydney’s siblings are George C (10), Maud (9), and Berkley J (5).  They have a domestic servant and a lodger.

In the 1901 census the family is living at 29, St Michael’s Road, Bournemouth. Joseph (44) is still running his own cab business.  George and Maud have left home.  Berkley (15) is a harness maker; Sydney is aged 12 and still at school.  They have a domestic servant.

Sydney had been a student at Winchester Diocesan Training College from 1908-10, and on leaving college took up a job as assistant master at Hyde School.

Ten years on in the 1911, census Joseph (54) is running his cab business and Eliza (52) is assisting him.  They are at the same address and have a domestic servant.

Meanwhile, Sydney is lodging at 25, Hatherley Road, Winchester, with Charlie Wheeler, carpenter, and his wife.  Sydney is aged 22 and a schoolmaster at an elementary school, which would have been Hyde School. There are two more boarders at the address.

On 13th March 1914, Sydney was appointed Headmaster of Hyde School.  He was also Choirmaster at St Bartholomew Church, and sang in the choir at the Cathedral.  Gifted with a splendid voice, he often sung in public concerts in the city.  As a schoolmaster he was beloved by his pupils.

On 3rd June 1916, Sydney enlisted as a private in the 2/4th Battalion Hampshire Regiment (regimental no 202556).  His army records have not survived, but the 2/4th Battalion was in Karachi (now in Pakistan) in 1916, moving to Egypt on 29th April 1917 where the Division was engaged in various actions in Palestine.  In May 1918, Sydney’s Battalion moved to France, arriving at Marseilles on 1st July 1918.  The Battalion joined the 186th Brigade of the 62nd Division and engaged in various actions on the Western Front.

Sydney’s Battalion took part in the Second Battle of Bapaume (part of the Second Battles of the Somme) from 31st August-3rd September 1918, but presumably during preliminary attacks Private Sydney Seeviour was seriously wounded in both arms and legs and died in hospital on 28th August 1918; he was 30 years old.  Sydney was serving in ‘C’ Company of the 2/4th at the time of his death, and the Regimental Journal indicates that he had been recommended for a commission in the weeks before he was killed.  He is buried in the British Cemetery at Ligny-Sur-Canche (20 miles east of Arras).  On his headstone is the inscription “Mother, cease thy weeping, we are only parted for a little while”.

Sydney was awarded the Military Medal, awarded for acts of gallantry and devotion to duty under fire or for individual or associated acts of bravery.  Details are not known, but he may have earned the award at the time of his death.  This Gallantry Medal was established in 1916 for personnel of the British Army and Commonwealth countries who were below commissioned rank; it was the other ranks’ equivalent to the Military Cross (awarded to Commissioned Officers).  The London Gazette lists him on 10th December 1918 (Supplement 31061, page 14660):

Military Cross

Hampshire Regiment

202556 Pte. Seevior, S. (Bournemouth)

2/4th Bn. (T.F.)

Sydney was a member of the National Union of Teachers and is listed in their War Record of fallen teachers and Medal List of those awarded gallantry medals. He is described as at “St Bartholomew’s Church School”.

At the time of his death, Sydney’s parents were living at 123, Ensbury Park Road, Bournemouth.

Very sadly, Sydney was engaged to be married to a Miss Coventry of Elm Road, Winchester.  The only Coventry family in Winchester in the 1911 census was living at 17, Elm Road.  The head of the family was Edward Jones Coventry, a ‘Journeyman Tailor’.  Of his unmarried daughters, only Emma May (21) and Annie Bertha (18), both milliners, are probable candidates as Sydney’s financée. In 1920, two years after Sydney’s death, Emma married Charles Roberts.  Annie never married, dying in 1969 in Winchester at the age of 76.

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