At some point, Sydney enlisted in the army at Launceston and seemed to have moved regiments several times, from the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry to the Devonshire Regiment and, finally, to the Hampshire Regiment. It may be that these moves were in response to the need to make up regimental numbers in the field. We don’t know when he entered the France and Flanders Theatre of War but, from the War Diary of his battalion, we do know that just before the 20th September 1917, the 15th Hampshires were in Trench Street Tunnels, just outside of Zillebeke, to the south of Ypres. They were preparing for engagement on the 20th for what became known as The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge, the third British general attack of the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) in the First World War. The battle took place from 20th to 25th September 1917 and heralded a change in some infantry tactics, by adopting the "leap-frog" method of advance, when waves of infantry stopped once they reached their objective, then consolidated the ground, while other waves passed through the objective to attack the next one and the earlier waves became the tactical reserve. The Battalion War Diary gives a graphic description of the fighting Sydney John Smith and his comrades were engaged in and, at the end of the battle, the battalion casualties were enormous: 55 killed, 255 wounded and 34 missing believed killed. Sydney was one of the latter. His body was never recovered and he is one of the many commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.
|Sydney John Smith's Medal Card.|
|The Tyne Cot Memorial.|
|All of Sydney Smith's possessions were left to his widowed mother.|
|Both Sydney's parents are buried in the graveyard in Stoke Climsland. Sydney is mentioned on the headstone.|