11 Jun 2010

NORRIS Sidney Harold


Rifleman 6619, Rifle Brigade, attached 2/10th Battalion, London Regiment
Killed in Action on Sunday 31st March 1918

Commemorated: Pozières Memorial, Somme, Panel 81-84

Sidney Norris was not a Lancing man by birth and it has been difficult to trace his connection with the village, but the appearance of his name on the memorial indicates someone's wish that he should be remembered locally. He was born in Clapham, London, in 1893, the second child of Charles and Esther Norris. At the time of the 1901 census the family were living in Bramwell Street, Clapham, and the five children had all been born in Clapham or neighbouring Battersea. To go forward in time, the information given by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission shows that after the war, when information about those who died was collated, his father Charles was still living in Battersea.

Sidney Norris enlisted in Worthing while resident in Lancing, but as his service record does not survive, no date can be given for this. He originally joined the Army Service Corps as a driver, with the number T/36004, and then later transferred to the Rifle Brigade with the number 6619. The move from the Army Service Corps to a fairly elite regiment such as the Rifle Brigade was a major one, and may have been one of personal choice rather than reorganisation of personnel. He arrived in France on 24 February 1915, relatively early in the war, but his movements cannot be traced until the time of his death, when he was attached to the a battalion of the London Regiment. On 21 March 1918 the Germans had launched a major offensive along much of the southern section of the British front line, and they had pushed forward, re-taking much of the ground they lost in the previous two years. By the 31st March the 2/10th Londons were just south of Chauny and the main area of attack, and seem to have escaped the worst of the fighting during the previous week. Their unit war diary held at The National Archives [WO95/3009] shows that on the whole their sector was fairly quiet, although they could hear heavy fighting to their north and see enemy transport and troops advancing. The entry for the day that Sidney Norris died states:

BUTTES DE ROUY shelled. Direct hit on OP [observation post]. Casualties 1 OR killed. Situation otherwise quiet.

A check of 'Soldiers Died in the Great War' CD, and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website show that three men of the battalion were killed in action that day; one man, in common with Sidney Norris, is commemorated on the Pozières Memorial, while the other is buried in nearby Chauny Communal Cemetery Extension. I have found no reports of his death in local papers, and I have no knowledge of his Lancing connections. The 1915 Blue Book of Worthing gives one entry for that surname in Lancing, an Edwin Norris who was living at Dairy Cottage, one of the outlying residences, and it's possible that this was a relative or perhaps Sidney's home address. I would glad of any further information that could shed light on his life and work in the village.


No comments: