Sidney Stretton (Ju. / Sc. 1901-06)


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Lieutenant, Royal Flying Corps.
Born: October 28th 1888
Died: March 27th 1917

Age at Death: 28

Accidentally killed, England, March 27th 1917
Son of B. Stretton of Wisboro' Tower, Billingshurst.

Brother to Percy Stretton (Sc. 1906-1909).

A donation to the memorial statue has been made in honour of this soldier by the Tiplady Family.

Lieutenant Sidney Stretton
Sidney Stretton was born in Derby on 28th October 1888. His parents, Benjamin, a brewer, and Frances had a total of 7 children of whom two died in infancy. The family business was clearly successful because in 1901 they moved to called Hammerwich House, now a large nursing home known as Hammerwich Hall where Benjamin’s mother lived until she died in 1944. In the same year they moved Sidney Stretton started at Brighton College, where he was a member of School House between 1901 and 1906.

Unfortunately no records remain either of Sidney’s time at Brighton College, nor of what he did between leaving school in 1906 and when he enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps. However, it is clear that he was either already a commissioned officer when war broke out or became one very shorty afterwards because he was awarded the 1914 Star, a medal to which only those who had fought in 1914 were entitled. As such he was effectively a military pioneer, one of those very early members of the Royal Flying Corps who effectively started a whole new dimension of warfare in the air during the early stages of World War One. The life chances the early military pilots were slim, not only because of the dangers of aerial combat but also because the machines they flew were so unsafe. It is therefore, in a sense, a testament to Sidney’s abilities as a pilot until 27th March 1917 when he is recorded having been killed on a practice flight in Britain. However, the circumstances are slightly mysterious because he is actually commemorated in the Doullens Communal Cemetery in France and his body appears never to have been recovered and buried. A possible solution to the mystery which would account for the discrepancy is that he may in fact have crashed while flying over the English Channel between Britain and his unit based in France.

Source: LEST WE FORGET PROJECT, Brighton College 2014/15

 

 

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