Sidney George Wolfe was born in Sun Street on the 14th February, 1890, to George (Railway Engine Cleaner) and Julie Wolfe and was baptised at St. Andrew’s Church on the 28th March. George James Wolfe was born in Shakerstone, Staffordshire, in about 1869, and married Julie Mary (née Wing), who was born the same year, in Stretton-on-Dunsmore, in Rugby in 1889.
In 1891 the family was living at 854 Old Station Square, Rugby and they had a lodger, Walter Wing, an engine cleaner, who was Julie’s younger brother.
In 1901 the family had moved, or had possibly been renumbered, and was living at 809 Old Station Square, Rugby. George J Wolfe was still a Loco Fireman, and that night they were putting up a two year old nephew, Raymond Wing.
Sidney would have entered Elborow School in 1897/98, under Mr Walker, but the first appearance in the records is in August, 1901, at the Sports Day, competing in the 440 yards flat race, the 100 yards flat, and also the fun-event ‘Coach & Horses’ where thrills and spills abounded. He commenced duties as a Pupil Teacher in September, 1906, transferring to the Lower School VI Form. He made his mark on the sports field, playing regularly for the school football team as well as the occasional cricket match, and was appointed ‘Monitor’ in Lent Term 1907; by July he had become Head of Town House. In December ’07, he gave a lecture on “The World on Wheels” to the Literary & Scientific Society, and in 1908 he was awarded the Old Laurentian English Prize. He returned to Elborow towards the end of the Summer Term to complete his Pupil-Teachership, having taken, and passed, his Oxford Senior Locals exams. He then went on to Saltley College, Birmingham, to gain full qualifications for a teaching career.
By 1911 he was in Sheffield, working as an Assistant Teacher in an (unknown) Elementary School, but returned to Elborow as an Assistant in June 1912, contributing to the School Magazine in July that year. He was, at this time, also appointed ‘Lieutenant’ in the new Elborow branch of the Rugby 1st Company Boys’ Brigade. At that year’s Annual Concert he played the double bass in the Orchestra, but also arranged the ‘Physical Culture’ display by the Junior boys. By November, he had been admitted into the Coventry Rugby Club’s team in September as “a forward with a good reputation”, and on 23rd October he was selected to represent the East Midlands against South Africa at Leicester on November 9th.
On the outbreak of war, Sidney enlisted in the 7th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He joined up on the 2nd September, and signed his Attestation papers on the 3rd. By 31st October had been promoted to Acting Sergeant, a rank that was confirmed ‘in full’ when he was transferred to the Divisional Cycle Company in January 1915 before embarking for France (Le Havre) in March. After serving in the 48th Divisional Cycle Company for almost a year, Sergeant Wolfe was temporarily attached to the 28th London Regiment in February, 1916, pending a course of instruction at Cadet School, and was then granted a Commission, with promotion to Temporary 2nd Lieutenant on 30th April. Transfer to the 10th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers followed.
Unfortunately, Lieutenant Wolfe had only been ‘in post’ a couple of weeks when he was seriously wounded:
“Regret to inform you that 2nd Lieutenant S. G. Wolfe Lancashire Fusiliers admitted Red Cross Hospital Le Torquet May 13th suffering from gunshot wound face severe. Will wire any further news.”
(War Office Telegram)
The Rugby Advertiser for the 27th May 1916 reports:
“WELL-KNOWN FOOTBALLER WOUNDED
Lieut. S G Wolfe, of the Lancashire Fusiliers, the well-known Rugby, Coventry and Midland Counties footballer, has been wounded at the front. Lieut. Wolfe gained a commission after eighteen months’ service in the trenches, and he had only been with his new unit a week when he was caught by a German machine gun while he was helping to repair barbed wire entanglements in front of the firing line. The nature of his injuries are not known locally, except that he received two wounds in the neck and one in the face. Lieut. Wolfe was successively a pupil, student teacher, and assistant master at Elborow School, and was selected to play for the Midland Counties against the South Africans.”
Back in the UK, he was very ill for many months, but recovered in hospital and convalesced at home under the care of his wife Nellie (nee Smith), whom he had married just after enlisting; he no doubt took great pleasure in watching the antics of his baby son, Roland, who was born in mid-1916. Nevertheless, he returned to France in May, 1917, receiving a promotion to 1st Lieutenant with the Fusiliers.
His unit was in the Ypres Salient, and was involved in the 1st Battle of Passchendaele which began on October 12th. The British had planned to capture the ridges south and east of the city of Ypres, but after a dry spell in September, rains began on 3rd October and conditions became very difficult. The evening of the 21st October was dry until after midnight, when it began to rain and a thick mist rose and it became impossible to see more than a few yards by the time the advance began on the 22nd. Despite a drying wind for several days, the ground in most places was a morass.
The attack on 22 October 1917 is described in four pages of the Battalion Diary. The Battalion formed up at 2.30am, and zero hour was at 5.35am and they moved forward close to the barrage, which was ragged and too slow and caused several casualties. They encountered heavy machine gun fire, and later in the afternoon had to repulse a German counter attack which was done successfully.
That day, three officers were killed, including Lt. S G Wolfe, and 27 Other Ranks (ORs); one officer and 42 ORs were wounded and missing; and seven officers and 174 ORs were wounded.
‘He was leading a company into action and was unfortunately killed during the advance. He had scarcely advanced more than 75 yards when an enemy shell fell close and he was killed instantaneously.’
The telegram below was sent to Mrs Wolfe on the 29th October:
“Deeply regret to inform you Lt. S. G. Wolfe, Lancashire Fusiliers, was killed in Action October twenty second. The Army Council express their sympathy.”
The Rugby Advertiser reported his death in the 30th October issue:
“Followers of Rugby football will regret to learn that Lieut. S G Wolfe, Lancashire Fusiliers, the well-known Midland forward, was killed by a shell while leading his men into action on October 22nd. Lieut. Wolfe, who was about 26 years of age, was a native of Rugby, and when he enlisted in August 1914, was employed as senior assistant at the Elborow School, where he had formerly been a pupil. At first he devoted his attention to Association football, and played for Bablake School and afterwards Rugby Lower School. He subsequently became a convert to the handling code, and it is by his exploits in this game that he will be best remembered by many. Of fine physique, he was an excellent forward, and played for both the Rugby and Coventry XV’s. He also played for the Midlands on several occasions, notably against the South Africans at Leicester, and while he was living in Sheffield he was in the Yorkshire County Trial match. He was for a time a lieutenant in the 1st Rugby Co. Boys’ Brigade, and he joined the Army as a private, being subsequently granted a commission. He had been previously seriously wounded in France.”
Part of an article in The Midland Daily Telegraph, for Wednesday, 31st October 1917, states:
Deceased was an Old Bablake boy, and after staying at Saltley College for a period of scholastic training he became an assistant master at a school in Rugby. He was a well-known footballer in Coventry and district, having played for Coventry F.C. and regularly for the Midland Counties as a forward. A good all-round sportsman, he was universally popular.
In a letter addressed to Mrs. Wolfe, and just received from a comrade, it is stated that he deceased officer was leading a company into action, and was unfortunately killed during the advance. He had scarcely advanced more than 75 yards when an enemy shell fell just close, and deceased was killed instantaneously, whilst his servant was badly wounded. “it came as a terrible blow to me,” the writer of the letter states, “and I cannot realise that I shall not see him again. He will be a great loss to the battalion, and he will be missed by all who knew him. As a soldier I cannot speak too highly of him, and as a man I had the greatest affection for him. He was always cheery, whether in the line or out, a great sportsman, and always thoughtful for his men. I should like to offer you my deepest sympathy in the great loss you have sustained.”
His body was either not recovered or not identified. Sidney is remembered on one of the Panels 54 to 60 and 163A of the Tyne Cot Memorial. The Tyne Cot Memorial is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient. Whereas those who died before 16 August 1917 are remembered on the Menin Gate, the United Kingdom servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot.
As well as at Tyne Cot, Sidney is commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby. He is also remembered on the St Peter’s College, Coventry Memorial Tablet, and also on the Bablake School Memorial in Coundon Road, Coventry.
He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal and also the 1915 Star. His Medal Card and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records, confirm that he was ‘Killed in Action’ on 22 October 1917. His widow is recorded as Mrs S G Wolfe, who at that later date, lived at 55 Berkeley Road Earlsdon, Coventry.
His formal address when probate was awarded on 15 January 1918 at Birmingham was 157 Westwood Road, Coventry and probate awarded to his widow, Nellie Maud Wolfe, was in the sum of £101-10-6d.
The birth of his daughter (Iris) was recorded in the same column of the newspaper as notice of his death.
BIRTHS, MARRIAGES, AND DEATHS.
BIRTH. Wolfe. – On November 1st, at Earlsdon to the wife of the late Lieut. S. G. Wolfe, a daughter.
DEATHS. Wolfe. – Killed in Action. Oct. 22nd, Lieut. S. G. Wolfe, of the Lancashire Fusiliers, aged 27 years. Leaves a wife and two children.
RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM
This article on Sidney George WOLFE was researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by Anne Rogers and John P H Frearson and is © Anne Rogers, John P H Frearson and the RFHG, October 2017.
Information about Elborow School Career is © Howard Trillo
 Industrial Housing in Rugby – L.N.W.R. Railways – To operate and maintain a railway requires people to work at places spread all along the line, often far from existing settlements. At places where stations are built accommodation for many staff are needed from opening day. People had to live within walking distance of work, and it was useful to the railway to be able to get hold of staff if something unexpected happened. By providing houses for their staff, the railway solved all these problems and the London and Birmingham Railway built several hundred houses along the line for the opening. The houses were each given a number and the earliest in Rugby were in the 700’s. They were all near the new station in Newbold Road, on the west side both north and south of the railway.
 Following the closure of the college, the two WWI memorial tablets have been moved from St Peter’s College to St Saviour’s Church, St Saviour’s Road, Saltley, Birmingham B8 1HW.
 Coventry Evening Telegraph, Friday, 2 November 1917.