Sidney Albert Macey was born in Clapham, South London on 16th March 1898. The fourth of seven children, his parents were William and Beatrice Macey. William worked as a groom and coachman for a dairy, but, intriguingly, he and Beatrice appear to have been living as a common-law couple, rather than being formally married.
Beatrice was born in Wiltshire, and had married George Hodges; they had a son, also called George, before she was widowed in 1891. The 1901 census lists mother and son as William’s visitors, but, by this time, he and Beatrice had gone on to have five children of their own, Sidney included.
When he left school, Sidney found work as a telegraph messenger, but by this point, war was on the horizon. His older brothers went off to war – the oldest, William, died in France in August 1916 – and Sidney seemed keen not to be left out of the action.
On 30th June 1916, he enlisted in the Royal Navy as a Stoker 2nd Class. His service records show that he stood 5ft 5.5ins (1.66m) tall, had brown hair, brown eyes and a fresh complexion. He was initially dispatched to HMS Pembroke – the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent – for training, before being assigned to the cruiser HMS Dartmouth, that October.
Stoker Macey spent nine months on board Dartmouth, and gained a promotion to Stoker 1st Class in the process. In July 1917, his assignment complete, he returned to Chatham. HMS Pembroke was particularly busy that summer, and he was billeted in temporary accommodation in the town’s Drill Hall.
On the 3rd September 1917, the first night air raid carried out by the German Air Force scored a direct hit on the barracks and Drill Hall; Stoker 1st Class Macey was killed instantly. He was just 19 years old.
Sidney Albert Macey was laid to rest, along with the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid, in the Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham. He was the second of two brothers lost to the conflict.