White Feathers

White feathers

A heartrending story of a local soldier who sacrificed everything in the ‘war to end all wars’ has been uncovered at Cheshire’s Archive and Local Studies Service. The white feathers – symbols of cowardice were given misguidedly by two different women to Rifleman Sydney Upton, simply because they spotted him walking the streets, without knowing he was home recovering from serious injuries sustained in the fighting. Sydney, who had enlisted as a teenager and was wounded in his first year of service, later fought with the Rifle Brigade at the Battle of Cambrai – one of the first engagements to feature the mass use of tanks – and was reported ‘missing in action’. Seven weeks later the Kingsman was traced to a prisoner of war camp and remained there until the end of the war. He never fully recovered from his wartime experience, including seeing a kindly Belgian farmer who helped the POWs send news to their families, shot before his eyes. He kept the white feathers all his life. Originally form Birkenhead, Sydney came to Chester to work with the Inland Revenue and was a member of the Upton-by-Chester British Legion. In 2010 his family deposited his papers, complete with feathers, to illustate the extent of the suffering that one man had endured in service to his country.


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  1. School records of Cheshire Great War heroes go online | Great War Stories - 11 November 2014

    […] have already traced the school history of First World War soldiers, including Birkenhead Kingsman, Sydney Upton – handed two white feathers by misguided women when home on leave recovering from his […]

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