CWG: Stoker 1st Class Sydney Jackson

Stoker 1st Class Sydney Jackson

Sydney Jackson was born in Walsall, Staffordshire, on 1st May 1886. One of three children to William and Emma Jackson, he also had three older half-siblings through William’s previous marriage. William was a vice manufacturer, and this is something Sydney helped his father with when he finished school.

He had bigger plans, however, and, on 11th December 1905, Sydney enlisted in the Royal Navy. His service records show that he stood 5ft 6ins (1.68m) tall, had hazel eyes, dark brown hair and a fresh complexion. Sydney joined up for a period of 5 years, and was given the role of Stoker 2nd Class.

During his initial term of service, he served on seven different ships, rising to the rank of Stoker 1st Class in the process. Between each voyage he returned to HMS Pembroke, the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent, and this was to become his land base.

Stoker Jackson’s career was not to be blemish flee, though. In the autumn of 1906, he spent two periods of time in the brig – the first for seven days, the second for two weeks. There is nothing to confirm what infraction he had committed, but given that the two imprisonments were within weeks of each other, it seems likely that something external was going on with him at the time.

When Sydney’s initial term of service came to a close, he was placed on reserve. There is not a great deal of information available about this part of his life, although the 1911 census records him as boarding in the Bruce House Registered Lodging House in Central London; he is listed as being a stoker.

His time on reserve did not last for long, however, and in October 1912 he was recalled. Over the next five years, Stoker Jackson served on a further four ships. In the spring of 1917 he returned to HMS Pembroke; the base was a busy place that summer, and temporary accommodation was set up at the Dockyard’s Drill Hall. This is where Sydney found himself billeted.

On the 3rd September 1917, the German Air Force carried out its first night air raid: Chatham was heavily bombed and the Drill Hall received a direct hit; Stoker 1st Class Jackson was among those killed instantly. He was 31 years old.

Sydney Jackson was laid to rest, along the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid, in the Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham.

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