My friend's grandfather served for part of WW1 in the Lincolnshire regiment and he wondered if you may be interested in this potted history.
Christine Cazalet, 21 June 2016.
Charles Sydney Wilby was born in Finedon, Northamptonshire on July 1st 1896, and his birth was registered on 15th August 1896. When he applied for a duplicate birth certificate after the end of World War 1, he put Sydney Charles Wilby on the application form (attached). All his military records are listed as Sydney Charles Wilby.
He enlisted into the Army on 14th September 1914, having attested that he was aged 19 years 2 months, not 18 and that his trade was engineering. On his enlistment papers it states that he was 5ft 3 inches tall, of sallow complexion with dark eyes and hair and was a Wesleyan.
He was posted to the 7th Northamptonshire Regiment on 15th August as a Private and appointed (unpaid) Lance Corporal on 1st December 1915 and (paid) Lance Corporal on 24th December 1915. On 18th September 1916, he was promoted to Corporal. On 30th October 1917, he was discharged to a commission in the Northumberland Fusiliers.
The 7th Northamptonshire Regiment was formed at the behest of Edgar Mobbs an England Rugby International who was killed in WW1.
Sydney Charles Wilby was first sent to the Western Front on 31st August 1915 and remained on active service until 11th May 1917, when he returned to England for Officer Training, going back to France in November 1917.
He took part in the Battle of Loos in September 1915. The regiment then moved up to Ypres in early 1916.
On 29th April 1916, he was wounded in action, probably at Hell Fire Corner at Ploegstraat, Belgium. His wounds included a shrapnel wound to the face. He was admitted to a field hospital and transferred to the Military Hospital in Boulogne on 30th April before being moved to Etaples. He was then transferred to the Canadian Field Hospital in Boulogne, where the doctor was Lieutenant Colonel John McRae, who wrote the famous poem 'In Flanders Field'. Lance Corporal Wilby was discharged to base on 13th May and returned to duty in the field on 20th May 1916.
The 7th Northants were not present at the start of the Battle of the Somme, but moved there in early August 1916. They were ordered to take the village of Guillemont, attacking east from Trones Wood, which had been captured in July. Other attacks to take Guillemont had failed as did this one. The casualties were as follows: 45 killed, 49 missing and 258 injured. In September the regiment did another tour at the front, near Delville Wood before moving away from the Somme to Vimy, where they remained in the trenches for a few weeks and raided German lines. Lance Corporal Wilby was promoted to Corporal on 18th September 1916.
In October 1916 the regiment moved back to Loos where they stayed until March 1917, when again they moved back to Vimy, taking part in the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917.
On 11th May 1917, he was sent to England for appointment to a Cadet Unit and returned to the Front on 30th October 1917 as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 16th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers. During his time with the Northumberland Fusiliers, he took part in the defence of Operation Michael – the German offensive to push the British back from St Quentin to Amiens in late March 1918. He was wounded again on 31st March 1918 in the jaw.
The casualties on the British side were high, and the battalion was sent to Givenchy, near the river Lys, to rebuild. However, they were hit by Operation Mars, a second German offensive in early April 1918. Again there were large numbers of casualties.
After this, the battalion was sent to Chemin des Dames on the Aisne, and fought there on 27th May 1918. By now, the battalion was so severely depleted that it was broken up and the remainder transferred to the Lincolns.
He joined to Lincolnshire regiment on the 19th June 1918 being posted to D Company on 25th June. During the latter part of 1918, he took part in the final advance on Albert on the Somme in August 1918, Epehy in September 1918 and Cambrai in October 1918.
He was awarded the following medals: The Victory Medal; The British Medal and the 1915 Star.
On returning to England he was transferred again to the Northumberland Fusiliers and relinquished his commission on 21st December 1920, but retained the rank of 2nd lieutenant.
He was finally notified that as he had reached the ‘age limit of liability’ on 20th November 1945, he could finally relinquish his commission.