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Sidney Tittensor was born in St. Helen`s in 1887, his birth registered in the second quarter of that year. His father was Walter Tittensor an elementary school teacher and his mother was Esther Buckley, both of them originally from Oldham. The couple married on the 3rd January 1883 in St. Andrew`s Church in Oldham. Sidney was the only son and middle child of three born to his parents, the other two siblings being; Edith (1885) and Marjorie (1894).

In 1891 Sidney and his family lived at 56 Harris Street in St. Helen`s where his father was an assistant schoolmaster. By 1901 Sidney was working as an office boy in an auctioneer`s office and the family home was now 86 Lingholme Road in St. Helen`s. Ten years on the family had moved again, the 1911 Census showing their home address as 224 Dentons Green Lane in St. Helens. Sidney was now working for an estate agent as an auctioneer`s clerk, his father was an elementary school teacher with the Borough Council and his sister Edith was a clerk employed at the Industrial Co-op (grocery, furniture and tailoring).

On the 24th March 1915 Sidney married Helen Lyon in Christ Church, Eccleston near Prescot and a few months later a son was born, they named him Eric. Sidney attested into the Army on the 10th December 1915 and after taking and passing his medical inspection he was immediately posted to the Reserve with his original service number of 1836 which would later become 27627.

He was mobilised on the 27th May 1916 initially joining the 2/12th LNL Battalion before this Battalion was absorbed into the 4th Reserve Battalion in September 1916 and the 2/12th Battalion ceased to exist. He sailed from Folkestone to Boulogne on the 13th November 1916 with reinforcements and after a two week spell at the 25th Infantry Base Depot he was then posted to the 10th Battalion LNL, joining them in the field on the 25th November 1916.

Sidney was severely wounded on the 11th April 1917 during the Battalion`s involvement at Arras, he had sustained gunshot wounds to his back and chest.

Extract from the Battalion War Diary

Arras – 10th – 11th April 1917

During the night, orders were received that the L.N. Lancs were to continue the advance and attack at 05:00 hrs going through East Lancs and attacking the trenches, having as our objective the `Green Line` and in particular the wood (Tilloy).

Arras – 11th April 1917 – 05:00hrs

The Battalion having previously got into position for such advance, almost immediately came into full view of the enemy and was met with very heavy machine gun and shell fire.

Arras – 11th April 1917 – 05:30hrs

We received orders not to advance until barrage opened. By this time, we had carried by assault, the enemy trench in front (east of Sunken Road) and were establishing ourselves in shell holes 100 yards further east.

It was at this time that Captain Peskett, 2nd Lieutenant Ibbotson and 2nd Lieutenant Goodman were killed.

During this assault, we suffered very heavy casualties and were being enfiladed from Monchy le Preux. The right flank, perceiving that they were in the air, and appreciating the fact that if it remained as such, there was a likelihood of being outflanked, boldly determined to risk all and assaulted a small trench running southwards from Cambrai Road in the direction of Guemappe and about 30 yards east of Sunken Road before mentioned.

A tank apparently also appreciating the situation in a like manner came to their aid.

On obtaining possession of the trench, Corporal Leonard and Lance Corporal R. Dinwoodie and six men were all that was left. These eight men boldly bombed along the trench southward killing more than a dozen Bosche, taking three prisoners and found themselves in complete possession. To their almost surprise, seven Bosche Officers miraculously appeared apparently from nowhere. This was not a time to stand on ceremony, whereupon the Officers suffered the same fate as their men. Two machine guns were captured in this gallant assault, but as this new garrison were so weak in numbers and fearing that they might eventually be in their turn evicted, they blew them up.

These men retained possession of this trench, as did also Captain Gravett, ably assisted by Second Lieutenant Deacon (being the only two Officers now left) and CSM Webster with sixty men, made themselves masters of the situation of the corresponding trench running northwards from the Cambrai Road. Here the garrison remained throughout the day, although there were signs of the enemy massing for a counter attack from the south.

It was about this time that Second Lieutenant Parker died after being badly wounded.

The Commanding Officer and Adjutant, having collected enroute stragglers of all Battalions, to the number of about fifty, arrived on the scene. By this time, and with the assistance of these reinforcements, Captain Gravett was the complete master of the situation. From this time onwards, reinforcements of Officers and men from other Battalions kept arriving.

Arras – 11th April 1917 – 13:50hrs

The Commanding Officer sent in a report to the General informing him that the situation had improved considerably and he had made plans for bombing parties to proceed along both sides the Cambrai Road and to attack the enemy trench after nightfall, which was about 300 yards in front of our line, as it was deemed not advisable at the moment to advance further, knowing full well that we were well in advance of all troops on our right and left, besides which in our present position we had command of a good field of view.

During this period Second Lieutenant Deacon received two wounds, but would not desert his Captain or his men.

About three hours after entering the trench, some of the 3rd Dragoon Guards, acting as infantry, came up on their left. This gave them some breathing space.

During this time men of the East Lancs and 10th L.N. Lancs oozed from shell holes and thickened the line of fire to our front line and could also enfilade the enemy on our right where the troops on that flank would advance further.

Arras – 11th April 1917 – 17:00hrs

We received orders that we would be relieved at 18:30hrs and immediately informed Captain Gravett to hold himself in readiness to be relieved. This relief was not completed until 01:00hrs. The men being in a very exhausted condition withdrew to Tilloy where we spent the remainder of the night.

Tilloy Wood – 12th April 1917 – 08:00hrs

Roll Call. Only a few of the brave fellows left. Our losses were estimated at 13 Officers and 286 men. That is over 60% of our fighting strength.

After being seriously wounded Sidney was admitted to 18 General Hospital at Camiers before eventually succumbing to his wounds just over two weeks later, his date of death recorded as 24th April 1917.

Sidney`s widow Helen was later awarded a pension of 18s/9d per week for herself and their son with effect from the 29th October 1917.

After the war Helen took receipt of her husband`s British War and Victory Medals to which he was entitled and would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice.

Sidney was laid to rest with honour in Etaples Military Cemetery.

Photo taken April 2018

Janet Davis
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