Sidney Ford was born in Kent in 1896, the son of Stephen John Ford and his second wife, Elizabeth Ann (née Underdown). The couple had four children – Frederick, Sidney, Ethel and Alice – although it seems that Elizabeth brought them up almost singlehandedly. Sidney’s military records gives his father’s name, although simply notes that he was an imbecile, in the stark way that only Edwardian officials could.
Sadly, little of Sidney’s early life remains documented. By the time war broke out, he was working as a farm labourer in Yalding, close to where he was born. He enlisted at the end of October 1914, joining the Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment), and was assigned to the 8th (Service) Battalion as a Private.
Joining up in Maidstone, by the end of the year, Private Ford’s battalion was soon billeted in Worthing, West Sussex. Tragically, his service was destined to be a short one, and he passed away after only a month in the town.
The first death from the Red Cross Hospital, Cecil’s, at West Worthing, had to be recorded. Since it has been opened there have been a large number of cases, and many of them have been of a serious nature, but happily all except the one under notice have made progress, thanks to the skill of the Medical Officers and Nursing Staff of the institution.
The deceased in this instance was a Private of the Eighth Battalion of the West Kent Regiment, now stationed locally. His name was Sidney Ford, and he was twenty-five years of age. He died on Friday, and at the funeral, which took place on Monday, full Military honours were accorded him.
Colonel Vansittart (who commands the Eighth Battalion) and Major Bock-Hollinshead attended, as also did other members of the Staff of the Hospital. A large number of the public were also at the Cemetery to witness the last rites, the progress of so long and so imposing a procession through the streets attracting considerable attention.Worthing Gazette: Wednesday 20th January 1915
Private Ford has died on 15th January 1915, and was actually just 20 years of age, not 25, as had been reported. The Worthing Gazette does not give no mention to Sidney’s family, so it can only be assumed that they were unable to make the journey from Kent to the funeral. I have been unable to uncover details of the cause of his death, but, given that there is no mention of the cause in the newspaper, it is likely to have been following an illness than anything more sensational or unusual.
Sidney Ford lies at rest in the Broadwater Cemetery in Worthing, one of the first in the town to have passed because of the Great War.
Sidney’s older brother, Frederick, was also involved in the Great War. While there is little specific information about his service, it is evident that he was a Private in the Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment).
Unlike his younger brother, Frederick did see military action, but list his life on the Western Front on 4th November 1915, ten months after Sidney had passed in Worthing.
Frederick lies at rest in the Royal Irish Rifles Graveyard in Laventie, in Northern France.