Private Sydney Wall


Sydney (or Sidney) Wall was born on 28 March 1899 in Paddington, London, one of at least twelve children of general dealer George Henry Wall and his wife Emily Alice Mary (née Sanderson).

Wall enlisted in the Army Service Corps at Woolwich on 2 September 1914 (No. T/34931). He gave his trade as 'town carman', his address as 4 Vesborough Street, Harvey Road, London, and his age as 18 years 180 days (though he was only 15). He brought a reference from the Marylebone Parcels Department of the Great Central Railway Company giving the 'sanction and approval' of his employer to enlist, and stating that "the carman S. Wall is reliable of driving a pair of horses or any team you would like to put him to."

Later that month both his older brother George Henry, and his father, enlisted in the Grenadier Guards. His father however was discharged a week later due to osteo arthritis.

Sydney was posted to No.2 Company ASC at Woolwich. On 6 November 1914 he was confined to barracks for 14 days and forfeited 6 days' pay for leaving the limits of the garrison without a pass and being absent from tattoo from 31 October until 5 November.

Soon after this his mother wrote to the military authorities revealing his true age:

I am writing to you as regards my son Driver Sidney Wall in the Army Service Corps No.34931 2 Company. I think it is a shame for him to be sent out to the front as he is only 15 years of age. I did not know he had joined the army. I will prefer to have him home as a child is not fit for the army. I can send you his Birth Certificate. Trusting you will take notice of this letter or I shall interseed [sic] further about it. Waiting your reply soon as possible.

Wall was discharged on 4 February 1915, 'having made a misstatement as to age on enlistment' (paragraph 392(vi)a King's Regulations). His military character was recorded as 'good'.

In 1916 Wall re-enlisted and on 22 February was posted to the 9th Reserve Regiment of Cavalry (No.27242) at Shorncliffe in Kent. On 2 February 1917 that regiment became part of the 2nd Reserve Regiment of Cavalry at the Curragh in Ireland. Later in 1917 Wall was posted to the North Irish Horse and on 31 March 1918 embarked for France, where he was posted to one of the squadrons of the 1st NIH Regiment.

This regiment served as corps cavalry to VII, XIX, then V Corps from its establishment in May 1916 until February-March 1918, when it was dismounted and converted to a cyclist unit, serving as corps cyclists to V Corps until the end of the war.

On 21 September 1918 he was attached to the 19th (Queen Alexandra's Own Royal) Hussars.

Wall reenlisted in the Hussars on 17 February 1919 (No.79112 – later Army No.538159), serving at Konigshoven, Germany, in the Army of Occupation, and then from 18 November 1919 in India. He returned to England on 6 January 1921 and was discharged on 31 March that year, his military character recorded as 'good'.


At the time of the 1939 Register, Wall was living at 70 Woodchester Street, Paddington, with his wife Florence (née Ginn) and their children, and working as a builder's labourer. He died at Slough, Berkshire, in 1979.


Wall's brother George Henry was killed at Ypres on 31 July 1917 while serving with the 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards. He is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.