15850 Private Sidney James Hart, M.M., 10th & 1st Battalions Gloucestershire Regiment
Born on 7th June 1892 in Ringshall
Died on 21st January 1955 in Potters Bar
Sidney James Hart was born in Ringshall, the fifth of the 6 children of William Hart and Ruth née Whinnett. He was baptised at St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden on 11th September 1892.
His siblings were
- Lizzie, born 4th August 1881
- Leonard, born 26th May 1883
- Ernest, born 3rd December 1884
- William Frederick, born in 1888, died in 1889
- Archie William, born 13th January 1898
The family’s address was 40 Ringshall, Ashridge Park, which is now part of Witches Hollow. In the 1901 Census, Sidney’s father was a Labourer in the Timber Yard on the Ashridge Estate.
Sidney attended Little Gaddesden School. His admission date is not known, but on 10th October 1898 the Headmaster’s Log Book entry noted that:
Mr Hart came to tell me that his little boy Sydney was not very well and that he had been sent away for a week.
Then, on 6th December 1901 the Log Book recorded that:
Measles have appeared in the families of Mrs. Hart & Mrs. Rogers. The children in each case have been sick for the last few days. Only 56 children present.
There were 132 children on the School Books that September but, by 9th December 1901: “Measles very much on the increase: only 37 present.” In consequence, the school was closed until December 30th.
However, on 3rd March 1902, Sidney was one of ten children awarded an attendance prize of 1 shilling and 6 pence. Godfrey Bunn was similarly rewarded while Horace Ruffett, William Wells, Walter Bunn and Reginald Purton were each awarded 2 shilling and 6 pence.
The following year Sidney’s attendance was commended and he distinguished himself in the Religious Knowledge examination which was part of the annual Diocesan Inspection.
On 30th January 1905, Sidney Hart, Standard 5 was examined for his Labour Certificate (Certificate of Proficiency). Albert Bierton, Walter Bunn, Reginald Purton and Ernest Rogers gained their Certificates at the same time. On 18th May 1905, Sidney then left Little Gaddesden School from Standard 6 with a Certificate of Proficiency. The Headmaster added: “He has always been a very good boy & I am sorry he has left.”
The 1911 Census then shows 18 year old Sidney as an Under Gardener at Ashridge, living at The Gardens, Ashridge House. At that time, his father William was the Odd Man (i.e. the sole male servant) at Ashridge while Lord and Lady Brownlow and many of their household were at Belton House near Grantham. Sidney’s mother was at home, 40 Ashridge Park, with his siblings Lizzie, 29 and Archie, 12, who was at school.
Sidney must have volunteered for the Gloucestershire Regiment in the first year of the War as he served overseas in France from 27th December 1915. The Roll of Honour lists him in the 10th Battalion, almost certainly the one in which he first served. However, the Autumn 1918 Absent Voters’ List and the London Gazette entry below show that he later transferred into the 1st Battalion.
In Autumn 1918, the 1st Battalion saw action on the Hindenburg Line in the Battles of Epehy and the St Quentin Canal. Then, on 4th November 1918, it took part in the Battle of the Sambre, helping to capture Catillon and the Sambre Canal crossing.
On 5th December 1918, Sidney James Hart married Dorothy Betterton at St Bartholomew’s Church, Tardebigge, Worcestershire. 26 year old Sidney is recorded as a Soldier and the son of William Hart, Domestic Servant. Dorothy, 23, was the daughter of George Betterton, Farm Labourer. The address for both Sidney and Dorothy is just given as Tardebigge. Their daughter Sylvia May Hart had been born on 16th November 1918.
The Supplement to the London Gazette of 14th May 1919, records the following Award.
His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Military Medal for bravery in the Field to the undermentioned Warrant Officers, Non-commissioned Officers and Men:- Gloucestershire Regiment … 15850 Pte. Hart, S. 1st Bn. (Berkhamstead)
By the time he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z Army Reserve in 1919, Sidney served in the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment in the UK. For his War Service, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal. The Autumn 1919 Electoral Register shows Sidney registered to vote at his parents’ address, 40 Ashridge Park, Little Gaddesden.
Men who have answered their country’s call in defence of a “Scrap of Paper”
Sidney Hart is named on the Roll of Honour, which hangs in St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden and lists 119 men from Little Gaddesden, Ringshall and Hudnall who served in the 1914 – 1918 War. He is listed as 10th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment, which was probably the battalion in which he first served. He is similarly shown on the Centenary Revision of the Roll.
Rolls of Honour photos: Jane Dickson, Michael Carver
By June 1921 Sidney was employed as a Gardener to the Earl of Plymouth at Hewell Grange, Redditch, Worcestershire. Sidney and Dorothy’s son Robert William Hart was then born on 27th August 1922. His birth was registered in the Bromsgrove District.
Between 1928 and 1930, Sidney and Dorothy lived at 33 High Street, Berkhamsted. However, from 1932, their address was 54 Quaker’s Lane, Potters Bar. In the 1939 Register, compiled in September 1939, Sidney was a GPO Telephonist Supervisor, Dorothy had “Unpaid Domestic Duties”, Sylvia was a Typist and Robert a Junior Clerk.
However, Sidney James Hart, of 54 Quaker’s Lane, Potters Bar, died, aged 62, in Potters Bar Hospital, on 21st January 1955. He was a retired Night Supervisor at the Telephone Exchange and died of Bronchopneumonia, Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema. His widow Dorothy then remained at 54 Quaker’s Lane until her death in 1964.
2. Little Gaddesden Baptism Register 1813 – 1947
5. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1887 – 1906
7. 1918-21 Absent Voters’ Lists Parliamentary County of Hertford, Hemel Hempstead Division, Little Gaddesden
9. GRO Certified copy of an entry of Marriage – Sidney James Hart and Dorothy Betterton
14. Copy (pdf) of the Death Certificate of Sidney James Hart d. 21st January 1955
Do you have any questions about the information recorded here? Or do you have any further information that you can share with us about those from Little Gaddesden who died or fought for their country? In either case, please contact Jane Dickson at email@example.com.
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Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson