The Hulme family came from Altrincham and Sidney and his five brothers and sisters had all been born there. By the time of the 1901 Census, his father, John, had died and his mother and the children were living at 32 Warren Road, Cale Green, Stockport. Sidney, then aged 15, was working in one of the local hatworks.
Shortly after this, he joined the Marines. By 1914, he had completed his contracted time and returned to Stockport where he had joined the town’s police force. However, he was still on the naval reserve and was, perhaps, unfortunate to have been undertaking his regular training when War was declared in August 1914.
HMS Good Hope was an armoured cruiser built in 1901 but was quickly becoming obsolete. She was transferred to the Reserve Fleet in 1913 but with War imminent, a crew was hurriedly put together of cadets and reservists like Sidney. She sailed from Portsmouth on 2 August, two days before the official declaration of War and was attached to a cruiser squadron patrolling the South Atlantic around the Falkland Islands.
A German cruiser squadron was also patrolling in the area. All five ships were modern and better equipped by the British and the commander of the British squadron, Admiral Cradock, had hoped for reinforcements before trying to engage the enemy. The forthcoming engagement would become known as the Battle of Coronel, after the Chilean city to the east.
On 31 October, a radio signal was intercepted which gave the approximate location of one of the German ships. Cradock ordered his whole squadron north in an attempt to cut it off and destroy it. Instead, he found himself confronting the entire German squadron during the following afternoon.
The German ships had the greater range and the third salvo fired by the Scharnhorst at about 7pm crippled the Good Hope. Further salvoes were fired and the ship finally sank at 7.57 with the loss of all hands. Another ship, Monmouth, was sunk a few minutes later. The other two British ships managed to escape. It was Britain’s first naval defeat since 1810.
Amongst the Good Hope’s 900 dead were Sidney and two other local men, Douglas Deacon and John Dudley.