Sidney Snowdon was born in Kent in 1895. His father Robert was a carpenter and joiner. Sidney was the youngest of three children. In 1911 he was living with his parents and older sister at 43 Vernon Gardens, Seven Kings and employed as a boy clerk.
At the outbreak of war, Sidney joined the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps where he became a Lance-Corporal. In 1915 he was granted commission into the Royal Fusiliers and was promoted to Second Lieutenant.
Sidney was one of a number of friends from the Seven Kings area who called themselves the ‘Merrymeeters’. Sidney wrote letters to be passed around his friends with more detail than he would send to his family ‘My people at home don’t know that and I don’t think it necessary that they should, but the Merrymeeters’ record of the War must be unimpeachable for accuracy.’ ‘His letters are now in Redbridge Museum’s collection, along with letters sent by the O’Donoghue brothers who were also part of the band of ‘Merrymeeters.’
Sidney took part in the Battle of the Somme and was killed on 15th September 1916. According to the Ilford Recorder, his death would have been immediate ‘for he was shot in the head whilst at the head of his platoon, which was charging the German trenches.’
Sidney’s Colonel notified his parents of his death in writing: “His loss was a great one to the battalion as he was proving a very gallant and efficient officer and one whose nerves never appeared to be shaken. He was a brave lad.”
An officer friend who had served at the Somme wrote home about Sidney’s death: ‘Poor chap. It is hard luck, but he has their assurance that he did his bit. I often think when I hear of people being sorry when they hear of any of us going under. If they could only take it as cheerfully as we give our lives. I don’t think that there are many out here… who are afraid to die. And if you could only realise how cheerfully and willingly the boys face and accept death then you at home would take the blow in the same spirit – the spirit of sacrifice. Honour him as one of the great number who show the world that the Anglo-Saxon blood still runs well’.
Sidney was 21 years old when he died and his name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial.
Research by Redbridge Museum
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Redbridge Museum, letter from Sidney Snowden, 1st July 1916
Ilford Recorder 3rd November 1916
Reproduced from Homage: A Record of Our Heroes (a commemorative booklet produced by Seven Kings United Methodist Church c.1920)
Born February 4th, 1895
Killed in action at Les Boeufs, Friday 15th September 1916
When Sidney Snowdon was at the County High School, Ilford, the brilliant promise of his character and magnificent mental endowments was clearly recognised. As a Computator in the National Health Insurance Department he studied hard that he might climb high. In football we saw the value of his fine physique, and in our Bible Class we admired the keenness and vigour of his mind. Sidney joined the Inns of Court O.T.C. in June. 1915, was gazetted to the 1/1 London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) December 23rd, 1915, and went to France March 23rd, 1916. His letters from France evinced his mastery over himself, and he was chosen for important and hazardous duties. We can fully believe the testimony of his C.O., who wrote: "His loss is a great one to the battalion, as he was proving himself to be a very gallant and efficient officer, and one whose nerves never appeared to be shaken. He was a brave lad.”
Further research by Andrew Emeny, History Teacher at ICHS
Sidney attended Ilford County High School between 11th September 1906 and 15th July 1910. Previously, he had been a pupil at Downshall Elementary School, also in Ilford. He received a scholarship to help pay for the fees at Ilford County High School. In 1909, when in Form IIa, he won a school prize at the annual prize-giving ceremony. The following year, he received a 2nd Class Honours in the Oxford Senior Local examination. In the same year, he left the school to become a Boy Clerk in the Civil Service.
A keen member of the ‘Old Boys Association, he gave the toast to the school at their annual dinner on January 23rd 1915.
Sidney served as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 1st battalion of the London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) and was killed in action on 15th September 1916.
According to the Christmas 1915 edition of Chronicles (the school magazine), Sidney’s address was Private S. Snowdon, No.4896, 5th Company, Inns of Court O.T.C. (The Devil’s Own). By the time of his death, he had joined the City of London Fusiliers and was fighting in the Battle of the Somme.
The Essex Newsman (4th November 1916) reported that he had been, ‘shot in the head while leading his platoon.’
The Summer 1916 Chronicles paid tribute to Sidney, claiming that he was, ‘in the opinion of most staff, the most brilliant student we have ever had.’ As a result of his domination of prize-givings, the school introduced a restriction to the number of prizes which one pupil in any form could gain. He had been a particularly good mathematician and, upon leaving school, had secured a good position in the Civil Service.
ICHS school records and magazines
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Essex Newsman (04/11/1916)
Ilford County High School started life as the Park Higher Grade School in 1901 in Balfour Road, Ilford. It was renamed Ilford County High School (or initially County High School, Ilford) in the years after the school’s management was transferred from Ilford School Board to Essex Education Committee in 1904.