Sydney Baker

George and Ann Maria Baker (nee Youngman) had ten children. They started their married life in Shotesham and their four eldest children were born there. However by 9 June 1893 when Sydney was born they had moved to Saxlingham Nethergate. He was baptised in St. Mary’s Church, Saxlingham Nethergate on 4 March 1894.

 His brothers and sisters were

Maud born1886

William G born1887

John H born 1889

Charles born 1 May 1891

Frederick born 23 November 1895

James born 3 December 1897

May Mary Ann born 27 May 1900

Mabel Sarah born 27 April 1902

Albert Edward born 17 July 1905

At the start of World War 1 he was working as a farm labourer for Mr. Emms, who owned Salletts Farm in Saxlingham.

He had joined the Norfolk Regiment as a Territorial on 13 March 1914 and had been certified as fit by Dr. Webb-Ware, the local doctor. He attended the annual training but on 6 August 1914 he was declared unfit for military service for medical reasons. He had been in the regiment for 146 days and his service number was 2026.

On 21 November 1914 a Recruiting Meeting was held in Saxlingham and as a result of which 5 men enlisted. These men included Alfred Funnell, a local baker and his friend, Arthur Emms, the son of the farmer for whom Sydney worked. Sydney enlisted at the meeting even though he had been declared medically unfit a few months previously. They all initially joined the Norfolk Regiment and both Alfred and Arthur were killed during the war. Charles Baker, Sydney’s older brother enlisted 4 days later into the same regiment on 25 November 1914. They were both in the 3rd Battalion Norfolk Regiment.

When Sydney enlisted he was aged 21 years and 5 months, he was 5 feet 5 inches tall with a 35 inch chest and weighed 125 lbs. His next of kin was given as his father George Baker, The Green, Saxlingham Nethergate.

In January 1915 he was stationed in Felixstowe, Suffolk for training. He was confined to barracks for 4 days on 17 January 1915 for creating a disturbance in his billet.

In March 1915 there was an outbreak of measles amongst the soldiers. Sydney was admitted to a hospital based at St. John’s School, Felixstowe from 17 March till 2 April 1915. His brother Charles was in the hospital with the same complaint at the same time.

In August 1915 the Regiment were based in Watton, Norfolk. Sydney was confined to camp for 5 days for being absent without leave between 6 to 7 August 1915.

He overstayed his pass on 28 September 1915 by 1 day and 23 hours and 5 minutes.  As a result he was confined to camp again this time for 3 days.

He was posted to France on 19 October 1915 and was there until 1 April 1918. He was promoted to Corporal on 1 August 1917.

He received bullet wounds to his foot and left leg and was admitted to No1, 65 Hospital, Frevent, France on 27 March 1918. He was transferred to 3 Scottish General Hospital at Stobhill, Glasgow on 2 April 1918 and he stayed there until 26 July 1918. He had a slight flesh wound to his leg but compound fractures of his metacarpals. During the time he was in hospital he suffered from sepsis.

 The hospital had beds for 1629 troops and 70 officers. Wounded soldiers were transported there by train. There was a temporary platform near the hospital on a railway siding which ran into the hospital grounds.

He attended the War Hospital at Greenock on 28 July 1918 where they stated that his wound was healed.

He remained in England for the remainder of the war. He was demobbed on 26 January 1919 in Catterick, North Yorkshire.

In 1925 Sydney married Ethel M Cooper, born 17 September 1900. His elder son, George W. Baker was born in 1926   and his second son, Gerald F Baker was born in 1930.

In 1939 the family lived at Hall Farm, Saxlingham Nethergate where Sydney was a farm worker.

Sydney died in 1970 in Saxlingham. His wife Ethel died in 1978 and at the time of her death was living at Chapel Cottages, Saxlingham Thorpe.

Sydney’s brothers also served in the war, William was in the Northumberland Fusiliers, James was in the Dragoon Guards and Frederick and Charles were in the Norfolk Regiment.

Both Frederick and Charles fought in the Battle of Cambrai and on 30 November 1917 they were reported as missing. Frederick was killed and his body never found but Charles was captured by the Germans. He was at prisoner of war in Dulmen, Germany till the end of the war.


British Army Service Records

England and Wales, Birth, Marriage, Death Index 1837-2005

UK Census Collection

Military Hospitals, Admissions and Discharge Registers WW1

1939 Register

Saxlingham Village Scrapbook

Norfolk Electoral Rolls, Absent Voters List, Saxlingham Nethergate 1918 -1920

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