Sydney (or Sidney) BRUCKSHAW
Rank: Private
Number: 15239
Unit: 9th Battalion CHESHIRE REGIMENT
Date of Death: 25 September 1915
Age: 25
Cemetery: Brown’s Road Military Cemetery, Festubert, Pas de Calais, France

The 1901 Census records his first name as Sidney, but all other records have it as Sydney and this is presumed to be the correct spelling. His birth was registered at Stockport between October and December 1890.

Sydney worked as a piecer at the cotton mills of Palmer Ltd, Portwood, Stockport. He was married to Lilian and they lived at 106 Daw Bank. He enlisted into the army on 3 September 1914.

After training, the newly formed Battalion went overseas on 18 June 1915. On 25 September 1915, the British Army was about to launch the attack that would become known as the Battle of Loos. 20 kilometres to the south, Sydney and his comrades, including Wilfred Gregory, were in trenches 500 yards north east of the village of Givenchy. The Cheshires and other battalions in the area were expected to launch a diversionary attack in this sector. The Cheshires would follow behind the 9th Battalion, Welsh Regiment and support them.

At 6.35am, "B" and "C" Companies advanced down the trench system towards the front line. "C" Company found their way blocked and had to get out of the trench and advance over the open ground. The Battalion's War Diary records that, by 6.50, "B" company had reached the front line. Lieutenant Watts ran forward to find the men of the Welsh Regiment. "When found, they said their officers were down and did not know what to do. He found Captain Hughes dead and Captain McKenzie wounded. Watts asked if he should take over Welsh. McKenzie said "yes" then called out "Forward the Welsh and the Cheshires". Lieutenant Watts signalled forward and was wounded."

Captain Johnson, commanding "B" Company, later reported "I led the Company down the communication trench. At front trench, there was no sign of gas or smoke. I saw 9/Welsh going over the parapet......Later, I had a good look round with my glasses over the parapet and saw dead and wounded men. No-one was standing up........I sent an orderly to Officer Commanding 9/Welsh asking for information and received message that OC 9/Welsh does not wish the Cheshires to advance and is trying to get his companies back. I withdrew 6 & 7 platoons and left No. 5 out in case of possible counter attack."

The chaos of the attack is further confirmed in the concluding entries in the Battalion's War Diary for the day. It notes that the Cheshires took over the front line from the Welsh at about 11.30am. The smoke and poison gas projected at the German trenches had not reached the enemy and the artillery covering fire had been ineffectual. "Reports from men who reached within 50 yards of enemy's wire say that it was little cut."

The Diary entry ends "Morale - our men hoped the Germans would counter-attack so they might have their revenge."

It's known that three of Sydney's brothers also served during the War.  Corporal Harry Bruckshaw, 45893, was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal in 1915 whilst serving with 73rd Battery, Royal Field Artillery. The citation in the London Gazette, 1 June 1915, reads "For gallant conduct, coolness and resource throughout the operations at Neuve Chappelle, from 10th to 14th March 1915. Showed a fine example to his comrades under heavy fire." Harry is believed to have survived the War (and is not the Harry Bruckshaw recorded by this project).

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