No.707 Private Roy Sykes
On his A.I.F. Enlistment papers, Roy Sykes stated that his place of birth was Inverell in New South Wales, and that his next of kin was a married sister – Mrs Addie Ingall, of Dundee, New South Wales.
I have been unable to find any record of Roy Sykes' birth from any available resources, so it is suspected that at some stage he changed his surname and adopted the name Sykes.
His sister’s ancestry can be determined as follows:
[There was a Mrs Adelaide Jane Ingall living at Dundee in 1914, and she was married to Richard Castle Ingall, the local school teacher. They had married at Inverell in 1899, and her maiden name was Adelaide J. Farnant].
Adelaide J. Farnant was born in 1878 at Inverell, New South Wales to Andrew and Jane Farnant.
Andrew Farnant married Jane Clark at Inverell in 1876, and had the following children:
- Andrew H. Farnant - born 1877 at Inverell
- Adelaide J. Farnant - born1878 at Inverell
- May Maud Farnant - born 1880 at Inverell
- Percy Farnant - born 1882 at Inverell
- Emily Farnant - born 1883 at Inverell
- Rosina Farnant - born 1884 at Inverell
- Frazer Farnant - born 1885 at Inverell
Prior to his enlisting in the A.I.F., Roy Sykes lived in the Northcote area of Melbourne, where he worked as a bricklayer.
Roy Sykes enlisted in the A.I.F. at Melbourne on 23 March 1915, and went to the Broadmeadows camp for basic training. One month later he was appointed as a Private to “C” Company of the 24th Infantry Battalion. The 24th had just been formed, also at Broadmeadows.
At the age of 23 years, Private Sykes embarked at Melbourne per H.M.A.T. Euripides A14, on 8 May 1915, and sailed to Egypt, where his unit continued training.
Three months later, on 30 August 1915, “C” Company left Heliopolis and travelled to the port of Alexandria, where the 24th Battalion embarked on H.T. Nile, as part of the Gallipoli Campaign.
Their ship arrived at Mudros Island (near Gallipoli) on 2 September 1915, and the Battalion went ashore for more training.
On 6 September 1915, the 24th Battalion embarked per H.T. Partridge for Anzac Cove. They disembarked at 9.30 p.m. on the same day, and bivouacked at “Rest Gully”.
The 24th Battalion spent most of their time on Gallipoli in the Lone Pine sector. This area was subject to intense fighting throughout the campaign, and the men were regularly rotated with the 23rd Battalion, to ease the pressure. This sector was subjected to extensive Turkish mining operations throughout the whole campaign.
Following the withdrawal from Gallipoli in December 1915, the 24th Battalion returned to Egypt, where they helped in the defence of the Suez Canal.
In February 1916, Sergeant A. Stevens sent his parents in Northcote a message from Cairo. In it he mentions seeing Private Roy Sykes from Northcote. He had returned from Anzac, and was about to move on to France.
Northcote Leader, 5 February 1916, p.2.
In March 1916, the 24th Battalion sailed to France, where they disembarked at Marseilles on 26 March 1916.
Their first major actions on the Western Front were the Battles at Pozieres in July 1916, and at Mouquet Farm in August 1916.
On 23 August 1916, Private Sykes was in action at Mouquet Farm. The Battalion were under heavy enemy shelling all day, when he was seriously wounded. He was first treated at the 44th Casualty Clearing Station for a Gun Shot wound to his left arm, and right thigh.
On the following day, 24 August 1916, he was transferred to 26th General Hospital at Etaples, where it was decided that he would be evacuated back to England.
On 7 September 1916, Private Sykes embarked for England from Calais, per Hospital Ship Dieppe, and on arrival he was admitted to the Graylingwell War Hospital at Chichester.
Army records wrote to Mrs Ingall (his sister and N.O.K.) on 26 September 1916, stating that her brother been admitted to Graylingwell Hospital, with a mild gunshot wound to his elbow.
After two months of treatment Private Sykes was discharged from the 1st Auxiliary Hospital on 16 November 1916, and granted leave.
He returned to duty at the Harefield Depot on 1 December 1916, but still had problems with his injured arm. On 10 January 1917, he was admitted to 2nd Auxiliary Hospital Southall for further treatment to his left elbow, and he was discharged to duty, three months later, on 12 March 1917.
His wound was still causing problems, and on 27 th March 1917, he was again re-admitted to the 2nd Auxiliary Hospital Southall, where his left elbow was amputated.
Private Sykes was discharged from hospital on 5 April 1917, after being classified as not fit for duty. This meant that he would be returned to Australia, and he subsequently embarked at Devonport and sailed home per H.T. Thermistocles.
After disembarking at Melbourne on 4 May 1917, Private Sykes was admitted to the No.5 Australian General Hospital in St Kilda Road, Melbourne.
On 15 October 1917, a Mrs N. Sewell of Werribee wrote to Army Records, inquiring as to the postal Address of Private Roy Sykes.
[Thomas and Naomi Sewell were market Gardeners in Werribee – 1914 Electoral Roll].
Army replied on 22 October 1917, stating that he was now in the No.5 Australian General Hospital in St Kilda Road, Melbourne.
Private Roy Sykes was officially discharged from A.I.F. on 23 January 1918, as medically unfit, because of his amputated left arm.
On 1 October 1917, Private Sykes was nominated to be one of eight returned soldiers to be presented with Werribee Shire Medals, at a ceremony held in the local hall. This function was organised by the local Returned Soldiers’ Committee. He was unable attend as he was in hospital.
Werribee Shire Banner, 11 October 1917, p.3.
At a subsequent meeting of the Returned Soldiers’ Committee, it was decided that his medal would be mailed to him by registered post.
Werribee Shire Banner, 8 August 1918, p.3.
Roy Sykes was living at No.1. Rest Home at Wirths Park on 30 January 1918, when he was granted a War Pension of thirty shillings a week.
From 1922, Roy Sykes' life can be followed by referring to the Victorian Electoral Rolls. He first appeared as living at 200 Clarendon Street in East Melbourne, where he worked as a clerk.
Later in 1922, he married an English migrant, Mary Elizabeth Shirley Whitley, but the marriage didn't last. After a separation, they divorced in 1929. The divorce proceedings were reported in the Herald Newspaper of the day.
The Herald (Melbourne), 28 July 1929, p.3.
1924 Electoral Roll lists Roy Sykes, 366 Albert St, East Melb. Clerk | Shirley Sykes, H.D.
Roy Sykes then moved to 32a St, Vincent Place, in South Melbourne , and he continued working as a Shipping Clerk. He remained at that address until 1957, when he moved to 102 Canterbury Road, Albert Road, Melbourne. He was just 65 years of age, and had no occupation.
His name was then removed from the Victorian Electoral Roll. (Perhaps he changed his name back to his original surname?)
During his later years in the South Melbourne area, Roy Sykes was a keen lawn bowler.
Medals and Entitlements:
- 1914/15 Star – No.17120
- British War Medal – No.12200
- Victory Medal – No.12112
Name on the Werribee Shire Oak Board: SYKES, R
His name first appeared in the Roll of Honor, Werribee Shire Banner, 21 October 1915, p.3. as “SYKES, R. of Werribee”.
From Werribee Shire Banner, 1 February 1917, p.1. the suffix (W) for wounded, was added to his name.
There was another man by the name of Sykes who came from the west of Melbourne. He was No 31., Roy Sykes from Corio, who enlisted on 25 August 1914. He was evacuated to hospital on Mudros Island with influenza on 14 September 1915, and returned to Aust on 8 August 1918.
A Mr C.W. Sykes lived at West Footscray. He applied to the Werribee Shire Council in 1915, to have his house included in the local sanitary district.
Werribee Shire Banner, 4 February 1915, p.3.
In 1919, a second "Sykes, R. from West Footscray (Killed)", was added to the Roll of Honor.
Werribee Shire Banner, 13 February 1919, p.3.
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