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Private Sydney Bone
a forgotten corner of an English churchyard

Headtone of Private Sydney BoneLonger ago than I like to remember I used to walk my daughters to their junior school next to St Paul's Church in Withington, Manchester. Over the years I occasionally noticed a couple of war grave headstones close to one wall of the churchyard.

When you see something so often it ceases to register, but recently at long last I decided to take a closer look. One of the headstones relates to someone killed in the Second World War, but the headstone pictured on the left commemorates Private Sydney Bone of the Manchester regiment who died on 11 February 1920, aged 24.

The Debt of Honour register at the Commonwealth War Graves commission website provided me with the additional information that Sydney's parents William and Sarah Ellen Bone lived at 92 Hill Street in Withington (just a short walk from the churchyard). The stone itself has the inscription "Buried in this churchyard" which seems to indicate that the grave itself is separated from its marker.

The Debt of Honour register also provides the following historical information:
During the two world wars, the United Kingdom became an island fortress used for training troops and launching land, sea and air operations around the globe. There are more than 170,000 Commonwealth war graves in the United Kingdom, many being those of servicemen and women killed on active service, or who later succumbed to wounds. Others died in training accidents, or because of sickness or disease. The graves, many of them privately owned and marked by private memorials, will be found in more than 12,000 cemeteries and churchyards. Withington (St Paul) Churchyard contains three First World War burials and one from the Second World War
I haven't yet had time to locate the other Great War burials, nor to research any further just what happened to Sydney. Given his age he must almost certainly have served during the war, but there's no clue as to whether he died as a result of wounds sustained in action, or from some later accident or illness. I'll certainly try and discover more about him, and I'll update this piece when I have more information.

January 2003
As he's done before (see Three Brave Brothers) Alan Seymour has undertaken some detective work and found out more about Private Bone. In his copy of 'Manchester City Battalions - Book of Honour', published in 1916, he's discovered that 20278 Pte. Bone S. served in B" Company, V. Platoon 22nd (Service) Battalion Manchester Regiment.

Alan tells me that Sydney must have enlisted in 1915/16 and thus would almost certainly have seen service abroad during the war. We even have a photograph of Sydney, though unfortunately I cannot point to any of the soldiers in his platoon photograph (reproduced below) and say for certain that it is him. If anyone can help out there...

Many thanks to Alan Seymour for the information.

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