Sydney Upton’s War Mapped

A Cheshire’s Great War Stories volunteer has helped Cheshire Archives and Local Studies to map, and bring to life, the wartime experiences of Cheshire rifleman Sydney Upton.  Sydney was captured 30 November 1917 at the Battle of Cambrai and Nigel Meyrick has used notes made by Sydney Upton of where he was imprisoned, or taken to, by his German captors, to plot Sydney’s movements on a 1917 map.  He also used extracts from the war diaries 1/6 Kings Liverpool Rifles to find details of action on the day that Sydney was captured:

Sydney Upton's war

Sydney Upton’s war

BIRDCAGE – Thursday 29/11/17
Unusual activity noticed behind enemy lines during the day. Enemy intermittently shelled the
front line and support during the day. At 4am Special Patrols continued reconnoitering OSSUS
WOOD and the enemy front line, but reported nothing unusual in No Man’s Land.

Friday 30/11/17
12 midnight Enemy very quiet. 7am Enemy opened a very heavy barrage on our front line and
support which was followed by an infantry attack. The Birdcage and Ossus Wood Sector fell
into the hands of the enemy, there being very few men left alive in the front line, from reports
received, to offer much resistance after the barrage lifted. The supports in Heythrop and
Cruciform Posts offered stubborn resistance, however, and succeeded in repelling the enemy,
who then occupied Little Priel Farm, but was eventually driven out of this position. The 165th
Brigade held the right sub-sector, the 166th the left, the dividing line between the two Brigades
being an east to west line directly west of Ossus Wood. The 164th Brigade was in reserve in the
Tincourt area. Of the 165th Brigade the 1/7th King’s were on the right, the 1/5th in the centre
and 1/6th on the left; the 1/9th were in support in dug-outs in Lempire. The night of the
29th/30th was exceptionally quiet, and although the troops had been warned that the enemy
might attack, “stand to” on the 30th passed without any signs of the enemy. But at 7.5 a.m. the
enemy’s guns suddenly broke the stillness of the morning and soon a very heavy gas barrage was
in progress near the left battalion of the 165th Brigade (1/6th King’s), all roads and tracks in
the neighbourhood being subjected to a very violent bombardment.

The map is available as a PDF – Sydney Upton POW WW1


One Response to Sydney Upton’s War Mapped

  1. Wayne Finch 7 May 2014 at 8.15pm #

    My Grandfather, No. 199319 Bombardier Reginald Charles Evans won the M.M. fighting alongside Sergeant Cyril E Gourley V.C. They both won their medals At Little Priel Farm on 30 Nov 1917. Both men were part of D/276 Battery, 55th West Lancashire Division. Their story is told on The Great War Forum under the heading Little Priel Farm

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