S. W. Billingsley
Service no. 4001
Rifleman, London Regiment (First Surrey Rifles), 1st/21st Battalion
Killed in action age 18 on 12 September 1916 (Billingsley’s enlistment record shows that he claimed to be 19)
CWGC: “Son of Mrs A. H. Handel, of 18a Morat Street, Brixton.”
Remembered at Thiepval Memorial, France
Information from British Army WWI Service Records
Sydney Walter Billingsley, 5 foot 2, 8 stone and 33 inches around the chest, enlisted at Camberwell on 28 May 1915. He was 19 and his war lasted just 1 year and 107 days.
The military record Army Form W. 5080, undated but probably completed in 1919, shows that he was survived by a full brother, Albert William Billingsley, 26; full sisters, Winnie Billingsley, 17, and Eva Billingsley, 23, as well as three half-siblings: Robert Handel, 10, Arthur Handel, 7, Ida Helen Handel, 3, and his mother, Ada Handel. His brother George Frederick Billingsley died in 1918 at the age of 24.
Billingsley was hospitalised at least 4 times – each time with pyrescia or fever. He was disciplined at least 10 times, his crimes including “breaking out of camp” (twice) and having dirty equipment; hesitating to obey an order; being late for parade. It is clear that he and Army life were not a good combination.
Before joining up, Billingsley was an electrical engineer’s assistant. He lived with his family at 2 Arlington Mansions, Morat Street, London SW9.