George Herbert Sykes

west yorkshire regiment badgePrivate, 58712, 1st Battalion, Prince of Wales’s Own (West Yorkshire) Regiment, killed in action, 24th September 1918, aged 19.

Born at Crowle on 26th November 1899, George Herbert was the son of George Henry and Annie Eliza Sykes (nee Thomas and formerly Burkinshaw). Annie Eliza was the daughter of William and Sarah Thomas (Sarah born in Crowle) and was a widow and living with George at home with her parents in Mexborough in 1901. In 1904 she married again, to George Howarth, a widower from Scawsby, and in 1911 the family, including George and his step-brother Irvine, were living at 7 Milton Road, Mexborough.

George was a furniture dealer’s assistant when he attested for the York & Lancaster Regiment at Mexborough on 20th November, 1916. Posted to the Army Reserve he was mobilised on 19th February 1917 and arriving at the York & Lancaster Regiment base in Pontefract he was posted for training to the 10th Training Reserve Battalion at Rugeley two days later. Completing his time with the Training Reserve, on 29th September he was posted to 7th (Reserve) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment for home service.

Passing his 19th birthday he was posted to France, arriving on 11th December 1917 and posted to the 2/8th West Yorkshire Regiment on 29th January 1918.

Taken ill with pyrexia, which later turned out to be bronchitis and larangitis, on 17th March George was sent by the 2/2nd West Yorkshire Field Ambulance to No.22 General Hospital and from there to  Belmont Auxiliary Hospital, London for a period of recuperation from 28th March.

Discharged from hospital he returned to duty with 3rd West Yorkshire Regiment on 9th May, and was posted back to France on 26th June, joining 1st West Yorkshire Regiment, in 18th Brigade, 6th Division, on 3rd July.

On 19th September the battalion participated in a Brigade attack on the villages of Holnon and Selency, making little progress but suffering over 60 casualties. Coming out of the line for a few days rest, on 24th September they attacked again. Despite meeting initial resistance from machine-guns, they eventually overcame the resistance and captured Holnon, this time suffering 59 men wounded, 19 missing and 16 killed. One of whom was Private George Herbert Sykes.

Originally buried in a battlefield grave close to where he fell, in 1919,his body was exhumed and George now lies in Chapelle British Cemetery, Holnon.

His step-brother Irvine served with the Royal Engineers throughout the war.