Sidney Harold Dicken’s birth was registered in early 1894 in Rugby, Warwickshire. He was baptised at St. Andrew’s church, Rugby, on 6 July 1894, on the same occasion as his elder brother, William Arthur Dicken. The family then lived at 23 Newbold Road, Rugby.
Sidney was the son of Thomas William Dicken, generally known as Thomas, born about 1859 in Rugeley, Staffordshire, and Eva Lissaman, née Smith, Dicken, who was born in about 1857 in Ryton, Warwickshire. Their marriage was registered in Q2, 1881 in Coventry – with his name spelled Dickin. By 1911, William Dicken was a ‘railway clerk’ and they had had eight children, all of whom had survived.
In 1911, Sidney was a ‘Clerk Elec Engineer Works’, working at B.T.H. in Rugby and living with his family at 131 Claremont Road Rugby,
Sidney Harold Dicken enlisted in Birmingham, in 1915, as Private, No.20940 in the 14th Battalion, the Gloucestershire Regiment. He was later promoted to Lance Corporal.
The 14th (West of England) Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment was raised at Bristol on 22 April 1915, by the Citizens Recruiting Committee, as a Bantam Battalion, with troops who were under the normal regulation minimum height of 5 feet 3 inches. They were part of Kitchener’s 4th Army. After initial training close to home, on 23 June the Battalion was adopted by War Office they joined 105th Brigade, 35th Division at Masham, North Yorkshire. The Division moved to Salisbury Plain for final training in August. They were ordered to Egypt in late 1915, but the order was soon cancelled and they proceeded to France, landing at Le Havre on 30 January 1916, the division concentrated east of St Omer. They were in action during the Battles of the Somme at Bazentin Ridge [14-17 July 1916], Arrow Head Copse, Maltz Horn Farm and Falfemont Farm. The division received new drafts of men to replace losses suffered on the Somme, but the CO. soon discovered that these new recruits were not of the same physical standard as the original Bantams, being men of small stature from the towns, rather than the miners and farm workers who had joined up in 1915.
The opening of the Battle of Bazentin Ridge marked the start of the second major phase of planned advances by the British and Commonwealth Allied forces on the Somme in 1916.
Sidney’s Medal Card does not give a date when he went to France but it was probably in January 1916 with the main body of the Battalion; this is supported by his Medal Card which does not include the award of the 1914 or 1914-1915 Stars. His first action was probably at Bazentin Ridge, and it is likely that was where he was wounded.
This is confirmed in part by burial location. He was buried at Corbie Communal Cemetery Extension. In July 1915, Corbie became a medical centre, with Nos.5 and 21 Casualty Clearing Stations at La Neuville. After May 1916, the majority buried in the extension are officers and men who died of wounds in the 1916 Battle of the Somme. It is likely that after being wounded in the abdomen, at Bazentin Ridge, sometime between 14 and 17 July, he was evacuated for treatment, the 30 or so kilometres to the Corbie area, which was toward Amiens.
During that time Sidney Harold Dicken, of ‘the Gloucester Bantams’ sent a field card to his father, which was received around the end of July, stating,
‘… that he had been wounded, and exactly a week afterwards official news was received from the War Office to the effect that he died of wounds. The official communication contains a clerical error in as much as the date of death is given as June 20th. Lance Corporal Dickens was an Old Murrayian, was 22 years of age, and was formerly employed at the B.T.H. At the time of his enlistment – at Whitsuntide, 1915 – however, he was employed as a clerk at West Bromwich. He was deeply interested in the Boy Scout movement. And was at one time patrol leader of the B.T.H. Troop. He went to the Front with his Battalion in January, and was employed on field telephone work.
The memorial notice in the same edition, correctly stated,
Dicken.- July 20th, died of wounds in France, Lance-Corporal Signaller Sidney Harold Dicken, youngest dearly loved son of Mr. and Mrs. Dicken, Claremont Road, Rugby. Aged 22 years. Deeply mourned.
The ‘Local War Notes’ two weeks later added,
… it appears that Pte Sidney H Dicken, of the 14th Gloucester Battalion, son of Mr and Mrs Dicken, of 131 Claremont road, died from laceration of the abdomen, and that the officer of the regiment was killed outright by the same shell.
The CWGC confirms that he died from wounds on 20 July 1916.
Sidney Harold Dicken was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM
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This article on Sidney Harold Dicken was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the Rugby Family History Group, June 2016.
 Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 5 August 1916.
 Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 5 August 1916.
 Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 19 August 1916.