CWG: Lance Corporal Sidney Turner

Lance Corporal Sidney Turner

Sidney Joseph Turner was born in 1888, the oldest of four children to Sidney and Matilda Turner from Bridgwater in Somerset. Sidney Sr was a carter, while his son became a labourer in a local cement works. Sadly, Sidney Sr died in 1903, when Sidney Jr was 15, leaving Matilda with three other children, one of whom was only 18 months old.

Sidney Jr travelled to get work, and had moved to South Wales to work as a miner by 1909. Here he married Rose Shattock, who was born in Bristol, although within a couple of years the young couple had moved back to Somerset.

Sidney and Rose had a son, also called Sidney, although sadly he died when he was only a couple of months old. Tragically for Sidney, the records seem to suggest that Rose may have died in childbirth, or shortly after, as her passing was registered in the same quarter as her son’s birth.

By this time, Sidney was living in Bailey Street, Bridgwater, a short distance from some railway sidings. This might have driven some determination in him as, by the following year, he was listed as an engine driver. In December 1913 he married his second wife, Bessie Sharman. She was the daughter of a mariner, who had become a machinist in a shirt factory by the time of their marriage.

When war broke out, Sidney enlisted in the Highland Light Infantry, initially in the 12th (Service) Battalion. They landed in France in July 1915 and were there for the remainder of the war. At some point, Lance Corporal Turner transferred to the 53rd (Young Soldier) Battalion. Very much a training brigade, it seems that Sidney’s experience of the front line may have proved useful for the upcoming recruits.

Lance Corporal Turner was demobbed on 21st March 1919; his pension record shows that, during the course of his service, he had fractured his tibia and had contracted bronchitis.

This latter condition was to prove Sidney’s downfall, as, within two years, he had succumbed to pulmonary tuberculosis and exhaustion. He died on 2nd July 1921, aged just 32 years old.

Sidney Joseph Turner lies at rest in St John’s Cemetery in his home town of Bridgwater, Somerset.

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