yeovil at War

Sidney Herbert Henwood

Killed by a sniper's bullet


Sidney Herbert Henwood was born in Yeovil in 1892, one of the fourteen Yeovil-born children of leather cleaner/degreaser Eli Henwood (b1848, Zeals, Wiltshire) and his wife Caroline (b1861). In the 1901 census the family were living at 12 Lyde Terrace, Lyde Road. In the 1911 census they were listed at 82 Lyde Road (most likely a result of street renumbering rather than a move). 19-year old Sidney gave his occupation as a leather degreaser, like his father. He is later known to have worked in Brutton's brewery.

Sidney enlisted at Yeovil as a Guardsman in 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards, 4th (Guards) Brigade, 2nd Division. His Service Number 18318 confirms that he enlisted in September 1914. 

When war broke out the 2nd Division sailed for France almost straight away as part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), landing at Le Havre on 15 August 1914. Indeed the 2nd Division was one of the first British formations to move to France, where it remained on the Western Front throughout the war. In August 1915 the 2nd Battalion transferred to the 1st Guards Brigade of the Guards Division.

On 1 May 1915, at the Yeovil Congregational church, Sidney married Nellie Lester of Orchard Street. He was sent to France to join his battalion just 23 days later, on 24 May 1915. Other than the grueling day-to-day fighting of the Western Front, the 2nd Battalion were not involved in any major battles at this time.

Just 58 days after arriving in France, Sidney was shot and killed by a sniper on 20 July 1915 while in the trenches. He was just 23 years old. He was buried in a temporary grave and later interred at Woburn Abbey Cemetery, Cuinchy, Pas de Calais, France - Grave I.C.9.

In its edition of 30 July 1915 the Western Gazette reported "Letters which Mrs Henwood of 42 Lyde Road, has recently received state that her husband, Private Henwood, who is serving with the Grenadier Guards, has been killed at the Front. One of the letters comes from the Rev. M Ponsonby (chaplain), and reads thus:- “You will hear today of your husband’s death. He was shot in the trenches by a sniper, and we buried him with a little band of heroes who have laid down their lives for their country. You will always have a great pride in what he has done. I never knew him myself, but they tell me in his regiment he was a very fine man.” In giving particulars of Private Henwood’s death, which he says was instantaneous, Corporal JM Feeney says he was greatly liked in the regiment, the men of which wished to express their sympathy and condolence with the widow. In conclusion, Corporal Feeney writes:- “If it be of any consolation to you, you will know that he has died as honourably as any man could die - whilst fighting for the greatest cause our country has ever undertaken.” The deceased soldier, who was formerly employed by Messrs. Brutton, was well known in the town. Previous to proceeding to the Front in May last, he married Miss Nellie Lester, second daughter of Mr R Lester of Orchard Street, Yeovil."

Sidney Henwood's name is inscribed on the War Memorial in the Borough.



Grenadier Guards pose for the camera in 1914.


The Commonwealth War Graves Commission certificate in memory of Sidney Henwood.

Woburn Abbey Cemetery, Cuinchy, Pas de Calais, France.

Cuinchy remained during almost the whole of the war within range of German guns, and the cemeteries in the commune were made, so far as British troops are concerned, by fighting units and Field Ambulances. Woburn Abbey Cemetery was named from a house on the East side of it used as Battalion Headquarters and as a Dressing Station. It was begun by the Royal Berkshire Regiment in June 1915 and closed in January 1916 on account of its exposed situation, but a few further burials were made as late as April 1918. Plots II to V were added after the Armistice by the concentration of graves from the battlefields east of Bethune. There are now over 550, 1914-18 war casualties commemorated in this site. Of these, nearly half are unidentified and special memorials are erected to three soldiers from the United Kingdom known or believed to be buried among them. The cemetery covers an area of 2,659 square metres and is enclosed by a low rubble wall.