Sidney was the eldest son of Robert and Ada Ashton, who lived at 28 Airlie Gardens, in Ilford. His father was a registrar of births and deaths in Mile End. Born on 22nd August 1895, he joined the school in September 1908 and remained on roll until July 1911. Previously, he had attended Cleveland and Christchurch Elementary Schools. His younger brother, Ernest also attended Ilford County High School from 1909 to 1913. In the 1911 census, Sidney had three brothers and two sisters.
When he left the school, having gained a 3rd degree honours in the Oxford Junior Examination and passes in French and Art, he became a commercial clerk. It was very typical for boys at the school to leave, aged 15 or 16, and to become clerks.
He served as a rifleman with the 1st/6th Battalions of the London Regiment (City of London Rifles) and died on 30th April 1916, aged 20. He died alongside fellow Old Boy, Frank Jones, when a mine exploded under their company, killing and wounding a large number of men. He is commemorated on the Arras Memorial.
He was posthumously awarded the Victory medal and British War Medal for his service in France and Flanders between 21st January and 30th April 1916.
Aside from the School’s memorial, Sidney is remembered on the Christchurch School Memorial and Ilford Lane Methodist Chapel window and plaque.
Research by Andrew Emeny, History Teacher at ICHS
ICHS school records and magazines
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
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.