Son of youngest soldier to be special guest at NEC.
Sidney Lewis was only a twelve year old boy when he enlisted with the East Surrey Regiment to fight in the First World War. While still only 13 years old he fought at Battle of the Somme in which it is estimated that, on the first day alone, British casualties numbered 57,470 and the number killed were estimated at 38,000. A total of three million men took part in the battle and over one million were wounded or killed. Sydney survived.
When his mother discovered that Sidney had enlisted while under the official age of enlistment she contacted the War Office and Sidney was discharged and sent home. His story appeared in a national newspaper on the 18th September 1916.
The Battle of the Somme had started on the 1st July that same year. Sydney enlisted again when he reached the official age of 18. To mark his service he was awarded the Victory and the British War Medals
Sidney’s story was largely unknown until 2013 when a distant relative sent a collection of documents, including Sidney’s birth certificate, to his son Colin who lives in Dorset. Colin shared his father’s story with a local school, Parkstone Grammar School. Inspired by the story, and in conjunction with Music in Action, the school turned the story into an original musical composition.
Pupils from the school will be performing the Composition at the National WW1 Children’s Remembrance Concert at the NEC on 3rd November. In recognition of Sidney’s extraordinary part in the War the concert’s director, Dr Ron Dawson, has invited Colin, who is now 85, and his two sons to attend the concert as his special guests.
More information on the event can be found here