For most of his life Charles Sydney Hamond did not live in Saxlingham Nethergate. He was born in 1880 in Pensthorpe, near Fakenham. His parents Washington and Frances Hamond had a 753 acre farm there employing 16 men and 10 boys. They had ten children but two did not survive. He had three brothers and four sisters. Francis was born in 1869, Katherine in 1870, Ethel in 1873, John Henry in 1877, Gertrude in 1878, Evelyn Sarah in 1882 and Ernest in 1884.
At the age of eleven Charles was a boarder at the Belle Vue School in Eaton Road, Eaton Norwich. This school was situated near Lime Tree Road Norwich and near to Town Close School. Whilst at school he was known as Sydney Chas. On leaving school he worked on his father’s farm.
In 1902 his father died and his mother and sister Gertrude moved to live with his brother Ernest, who was an unmarried clergyman, in Keswick, Cumberland. His other two brothers were also clergymen in different parts of the country. In 1908 Sydney was farming in East Dereham and then moved to Ringland in 1909. On 12th April 1910 he married Emily Francis Helwall, who was seven years older than he was. She had been born in Bombay, India, where her father had been working.
Charles was still farming in Ringland in 1912 but sometime between then and December 1915, when he enlisted, he moved to live in Saxlingham Thorpe. He lived at the Mill House. In 1915 as well as the water mill in Saxlingham Thorpe there was also an adjacent tower mill which had a house attached to it. It is not certain which of these houses he lived in. When he enlisted he gave Mill House as his address and his occupation as farmer.
He enlisted with the army reserve on 4th December 1915. He was 6 feet 5 inches tall and weighed 12 stones 10 pounds and was aged 36 years old. He was mobilized on 14th June 1916 with the Bedfordshire Regiment but then transferred to the Cheshire Regiment on 28th October 1916. He was posted to the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force and left for Salonika (now Thessaloniki in Greece) on November 8th 1916 from Southampton. He arrived in Salonika on 19th November 1916.
The aim of the campaign in this area was to help the Serbs fight against the German and Bulgarian armies. The troops were fighting in trenches in cold wet conditions in the winter. In the summer it was also the area in Europe which had the worst problem with malaria. This was recognised early in the campaign and nets, cream and quinine were asked for but not received in the quantities required. The war in France and Flanders was considered to be of more importance. The troops were not adequately protected against malaria until the spring of 1917. Malaria and diseases, like dysentery and trench foot caused more casualties in this region than battle injuries. The men did eventually receive quinine but during the campaign 162,517 men contracted malaria. Many had repeated bouts of the disease, which left them thin, weak and often depressed. As a result of the war ten thousand men who fought in this area died from malaria.
Sydney was fighting under these conditions and at the end of 1917 was suffering from trench foot. This is a condition caused by damp, unsanitary cold conditions where the feet do not have the opportunity to dry out. They can become numb, red and sore with open wounds and ulcers. In severe cases gangrene can set in and the foot has to be amputated. He was admitted to hospital at the beginning January 1918 with the condition. He was initially in the 21st Stationary Hospital which was at Sarigol near Kilkis close to the Macedonian border. He was transferred from the 21st Stationary Hospital to the 60th Salonika Hospital on 11th January where he stayed for the next four months.
On 2nd January 1918 his wife Emily wrote to his regiment in England asking them to check his name against their list of casualties as she had not heard from him since the beginning of December. She also informed the regiment that she had moved from Saxlingham to Church House, Lee Moor, Roborough, Devon.
On 10th April Sydney was moved to the 48th General Hospital. From there he was transferred to the hospital ship ‘Braemar Castle’on 26th April, which then sailed for Malta the next day, arriving there on 30th April 1918.
Malta played an important role in caring for the sick and injured from the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. At one point during the war there were twenty five hospitals on the island. Most of the patients were suffering from illness rather than wounds. Sydney was admitted to St Andrew Hospital in Valletta. This hospital was out of the town and had previously been a barracks. He stayed there until he was invalided to the UK on 28th August 1918.
As well as trench foot he was also suffering from malaria. On arrival in England he was admitted to the Belmont Rd, Auxiliary Military hospital at Fazakerley Liverpool on 16th September 1918. His medical notes describe his right toe as being swollen, ulcerated and inflamed and of his suffering from frequent bouts of malaria. He died there on 5th October 1918 with his wife by his bedside. The cause of death was given as malaria and pneumonia contracted whilst on military service. He was aged 39 years old when he died and was described as being late of Mill House, Saxlingham, Norwich.
His wife took his body back to where she was then living in Devon. His grave is in the church yard of St Edward’s Church, Shaugh Prior, Cornwood, Devon. It does not have the usual Commonwealth Grave head stone as he was buried in England and his head stone was erected before the end of the war. His wife is buried in the same grave. She did not remarry and died in 1957 aged 85 years old.
Sydney is named on the war memorial in Shaugh Prior though he never lived there.
It is not known why Emily Hamond moved to that area and stayed there all her life. She moved from The Church House in 1920’s to live in The Hermitage, a bungalow which is still there today.
Shaugh Prior is a pretty village on a hillside but the whole area is scarred by china clay quarries. Most of the population in this and the nearby villages was employed in them.
Sydney had no children. When Emily applied for a scroll and plaque in his memory she had to list all Sydney’s relatives who were still living. Francis Hamond was a vicar at St. Faith’s in Norwich, Henry had a parish in Lincolnshire and Ernest was a priest at The English College in Jerusalem. His sisters Gertrude and Ethel were teachers and also worked at the college in Jerusalem. Evelyn was a secretary working for the government in London. Sydney’s eldest sister Katherine had married George Lewis Burton, an engineer, in 1893 and moved to Lancashire. She is not listed in the claim for the plaque so it has to be presumed that she had died by 1919. Her son Kenrick Hamond Burton was also killed in the war.
Emily received a pension of fifteen shillings a week from April 1919.
Charles Sydney Hamond is also remembered on the war memorial in Newton Flotman Church, Norfolk. Newton Flotman village adjoins Saxlingham Thorpe being on the opposite bank of the river Tas.
Census records: 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911
British Army WW1 Service Records.
UK soldiers who died in the Great War 1914-18
Papers from Saxlingham Nethergate Church Chest now deposited at Norfolk Record Office.
It’s a long way to Salonika. www.historyireland.com
Malta Military Hospitals 1915-1917. ScarletFinders. www.scarletfinders.co.uk
Photographs of Shaugh Prior by Jeff Fox