The records concerning this casualty are rather confused, but by cross referencing it is believed he is:
Born in 1894 in the Billericay Registration District, son of James Mears (Gardener) and Sarah Bodger. This was the only Sydney Bodger born in the County at the relevant time. Sydney did not know his Father, who died early in 1895 at the age of 33 in the Epping Registration District.
In the 1901 Census Sarah, a widow born in Woodham Walter, was working as a Cook for William Hall in Islington London. Another entry for the Alexandra Orphanage for Infants at Hornsey Rise refers to a Sidney Bodger aged 6, Orphan, born in Brentwood. This would accord with the 1894 birth in Billericay District.
1911: Sidney Bodger aged 16 is shown as a Domestic Gardener born in Epping, boarding with George Sheldon and family at 7 Elm Grove, Woodford Green. Sarah was a Domestic Cook for Coal Merchant Harold Lea-Smith at Forest House Chigwell Row.
By the time the Imperial War Graves Commission finalised their records after the Great War, Sarah Bodger was living at 12 Smeaton Road, Woodford Bridge.
Sydney volunteered at Stratford for the Essex Reserves in 1914. On 1st June 1915 he went to France to join 2 Essex, and participated in the first day of the Battle of the Somme on 1st July 1916. He was wounded during that offensive.
In April 1918 he was east of Arras when the German Spring Offensive began. On 12th April 1918 the Battalion boarded trucks at Fosseux, going north to Busnes near Lillers where 4 Division was under pressure from German attacks. At 06.00 on 13th April 1918 they moved again, south to Busnettes but again were not deployed.
16th April saw them taking casualties while relieving 1 Rifle Brigade in the Support Lines near Bellerive on the banks of the La Bassee Canal. At 01.00 on 18th April 1918 the Germans began a pre attack artillery barrage on British lines, including those held by 2 Essex. It was this barrage that claimed the life of Sydney Bodger. At 03.00 German infantry attacked in what was their last push from Givenchy to the west of Merville. The attackers were repulsed, and the British line held.
Research by Adrian Lee, Local Historian
“Marching off to War”