Sidney (or Sydney) VALENTINE NEVE
Rank: Private
Number: 22137
Date of Death: 3 September 1916
Cemetery: Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France

The spelling of Private’s Neve’s first name is uncertain, appearing as Sidney and Sydney in various official and military records. Nothing is known of his early life except that he had been born in Winchester and army records published after the war suggest that this was still his home. However, he was in Stockport in 1915 as he married Jane at St George’s Church. She was believed to be a widow called Jackson or Platt (it is not known which of these was her maiden name).

It possibly suggests that the couple married shortly before Sydney went overseas on active service. He had enlisted into the army in the town and his medal entitlement records, at the National Archives, suggest he did not leave Britain until at least the beginning of 1916.

The village of Guillemont had been a British objective in the early days of the Battle of the Somme at the beginning of July. Two months later, it was still in German hands and another attempt would be made on 3 September to wrest it from their control. Several British Divisions would be involved in the attack, over 100, 000 men.

Sydney and his comrades would form part of the attack on a particular stronghold known as Falfemont Farm and, in the early hours of the day, assembled at Leuze Wood, some four hundred yards away across No Man’s Land. The attack commenced at 8.50am and, immediately, the Borderers came under extremely heavy rifle and machine gun fire. The attack was a failure with the Battalion suffering 300 casualties – dead, wounded or missing.

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