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Trademes Colonel Francis Bernard Sykes DSO & Bar & MID

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Trademes Colonel Francis Bernard Sykes DSO & Bar & MID

Postby bjubes » Sun Jun 14, 2015 1:31 pm

Francis Bernard Sykes was born on December 18, 1873, the son of Thomas Gertbell Sykes and Mary Elizabeth Sykes. His father was the the former Principal of La Martiniere College in Lucknow, India. In addition to English, Sykes spoke three other languages: Hindustani (at a higher standard), along with Persian and French (at a lower standard). He matriculated at London University in 1892 and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Cambridge University, 1st Part, Law Tripos in 1895. While at Cambridge, he served with the Cambridge University Volunteer Rifle Corps from November 12, 1892 to March 31, 1895, a total of two years and 141 days. Sykes was called to the Degree of an Utter Barrister (Bar) by the Honourable Society of Gray's Inn on June 17, 1896 and as a Barrister-at-Law, practised for two years in India and resided in Lucknow. In addition to his legal career, he served with the Oudh Light Horse Corps (No. 183) from April 1, 1896 to March 31, 1899, where it was noted that he was "Extra Efficient". He later moved to New Zealand and is documented as having been appointed Assistant Master for one Month at the Boys' High School at Canterbury College in Christchurch, in July 1899. He was named 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery on May 23, 1900 and gazetted accordingly. Sykes initially served with the 6th Contingent (City of Wellington) Mounted Rifles, then served with the 2nd and 5th Battalions, 2nd Contingent, Mounted Rifles, New Zealand Contingent in South Africa, beginning in January 1900, then sailed for home on January 30, 1901 aboard the Transport Ship Cornwall. Sykes was awarded the Queen's South Africa Medal with 5 Clasps, having participated in operations in the Orange Free State (May 1900), including actions at Vet River (May 5 and 6, 1900), at Zand River, in the Transvaal (May and June 1900), including actions hear Johannesburg and Pretoria, at Cape Colony, south of Orange River (1899-1900, February to March 1901 and in May 1902), credited with having served thirteen months during the Boer War. After the War, he was posted for nine months to the 124th Battalion, Royal Field Artillery at Woolwich, from April 1901 to January 1902. While at Woolwich, he was promoted to Lieutenant on December 22, 1901. He was transferred as a Lieutenant, to the 31st Battalion, Imperial Yeomanry (Fincastles Horse), as approved by the War Office, on March 11, 1902, where he served from January to May 1902, followed by a transfer to O.2 Section Pompons. Sykes returned to South Africa, where he passed a course of Instruction in Signalling at Pretoria, South Africa in May 1905, achieving his Instructor's Certificate. He was posted to the 84th Battery, Royal Field Artillery at M'burg in November 1906, then followed them to the Madras region of India, where he served from November 1906 to January 1907. He was transferred to "O" Battery, Royal Horse Artillery, where he served from January 1907 to February 1911 in Lucknow, Secunderabad, Bangalore. Lieutenant F.B. Sykes (No. 345), Royal Horse Artillery was examined for promotion, the examination held in India in October 1908, and he was fitted for the rank of Captain in February 1909. He was promoted to Captain on January 1, 1911 and posted for one year to the 72nd Battery, Royal Field Artillery at Bulford, Wiltshire, England, close to Salisbury Plain, from February 1911 to February 1912. While at Bulford, Sykes married Alice Augusta Watson on September 26, 1911 in Gainford, County Durham, England (his next-of-kin later acknowledged as his wife, Mrs. F.B. Sykes of Gainford, Vicarage, Darlington, Durham). The couple were to have one daughter, Violet Evelyn Augusta Sykes, who was born on July 7, 1913. He was named Adjutant with the Ayrshire Royal Horse Artillery Territorial Force at Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland, where he served from February 1912 to July 11, 1914. Sykes left the United Kingdom and was appointed Assistant Inspector of Artillery and Director of Ordnance Stores at Wellington, New Zealand, where he served from July 11, 1914 to September 25, 1914. Upon the outbreak of hostilities in the European War, Lieutenant-Colonel Sykes (No. 2/793) joined the New Zealand Field Artillery, using his experience as an Inspector of Artillery with the New Zealand Defence Forces and placed in Command of the 2nd Brigade, New Zealand Field Artillery. Sykes was part of the Main Body of the Embarkation Unit, Field Artillery (listed on on page 707 of the Nominal Roll), that embarked Wellington, New Zealand aboard His Majesty's New Zealand Transport 7 Limerick, on October 16, 1914, disembarking in Suez, Egypt, which was followed by a promotion two weeks later to Major on October 30th. In the Spring, Sykes was transferred for action on the Turkish front, departing Alexandria, Egypt for Gallipoli in April 1915, aboard His Majesty's New Zealand Transport Surada, which carried both New Zealand and Australian Divisions. An account exists, describing the harrowing experience at Gallipoli and mentioning Major Sykes in action with the 2nd New Zealand Battery: "The Turks were in great force and very full of fight, yet one weak Australian brigade, numbering at the outset but 2,000 rifles, and supported only by two weak battalions, carried the work under the eyes of a whole enemy division, and maintained their grip upon it like a vice during the six days' successive counter-attacks. High praise is due to Brigadier-General N.M. Smyth and to his battalion commanders. The irresistible dash and daring of officers and men in the initial charge were a glory to Australia. The stout-heartedness with which they clung to the captured ground in spite of fatigue, severe losses, and the continual strain of shell fire and bomb attacks may seem less striking to the civilian; it is even more admirable to the soldier. From start to finish the artillery support was untiring and vigilant. Owing to the rapid, accurate fire of the 2nd New Zealand Battery, under Major Sykes, several of the Turkish onslaughts were altogether defeated in their attempts to get to grips with the Australians. Not a chance was lost by these gunners, although time and again the enemy's artillery made direct hits on their shields. The hand-to-hand fighting in the semi-obscurity of the trenches was prolonged and very bitterly contested. In one corner, eight Turks and six Australians were found lying as they had bayonetted one another. To make room for the fighting men, the dead were ranged in rows on either side of the gangway. After the first violence of the counter-attacks had abated, 1,000 corpses (from both sides) were dragged out from the trenches." Sykes was named Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel by New Zealand orders on June 2, 1915 and gazetted in the London Gazette on August 28, 1915, followed by a promotion to Lieutenant-Colonel on August 28th. Sykes was awarded the Companion of the Distinguished Service Order as a "Major (Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel) Francis Bernard Sykes, Royal Artillery (attached New Zealand Imperial Force)", with the New Zealand Artillery, "For distinguished service in the field during the operations in the Dardanelles." The D.S.O. announcement appeared in the London Gazette on November 8, 1915 and in the Edinburgh Gazette, page 1711 on November 12, 1915. He was later awarded the Bar to the DSO while with the 3rd Army on October 9, 1918, the announcement appearing in the London Gazette, page 579 on January 11, 1919, with the citation stating "For conspicuous gallantry and able leadership. He went forward through a heavy gas barrage on two occasions to deal with an obscure situation and, though severely gassed, continued to direct operations. He utilised four artillery brigades with great ability to crush counter-attacks, and on one occasion, in the absence of linesmen, he personally carried a wire forward under intense machine-gun fire and, thus getting into telephonic communication with batteries, scattered, with great losses the enemy whom he had observed to be massing for an advance. His courage, endurance and skill were admirable." Sykes is credited with having commanded the 2nd Battery, New Zealand Field Artillery, from September 25, 1914 to June 2, 1915 in Egypt and Gallipoli and having commanded the 2nd Brigade New Zealand Field Artillery, under Commander Lieutenant-Colonel (Temporary Brigadier-General) G.N. Johnston, R.A.A.D.C., from June 2, 1915 to March 14, 1918 in Gallipoli, Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula. He had also been Mentioned in Despatches in June 1915, May 17, 1917 and December 28, 1917, as well as in New Zealand Divisional Orders on April 7, 1918 and in the Times on May 28, 1918. He returned to the United Kingdom to attend a Senior Officers Course of Gunnery at Shoeburyness, Essex, England in 1917 and would return for an additional course in 1920. Sykes' earlier successes in the Turkish theatre aided him in the upcoming conflict in Western Europe. He commanded the 168th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery in Belgium from March 14 to 27, 1918, then commanded the 223rd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery for the next year in France and Belgium, from March 27, 1918 to March 24, 1919. He is documented in his service records as having been three weeks in the Fleuxbaix Sector and four weeks in Ypres Westhock Sector with the New Zealand Division, while in France and Belgium. Post-war, he was Mentioned in Despatches on December 23, 1918 and July 10, 1919 and was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, along with being promoted to Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel on June 3, 1919, as documented in the London Gazette on January 10, 1919. Sykes was placed on six months sick leave, from March 24 to September 30, 1919. It was noted on April 9th at Gainford that he was experiencing "heart failure" following a bout of influenza, developing a "weak heart". Another assessment at Middlesborough on August 23rd noted that his heart had already been affected by repeated "Gassings" in 1917-1918 and he was subsequently Classified "C.1." while at Catterick and later, posted to No. 2 Depot, Royal Field Artillery at Preston on June 23, 1919. In his Senior Officers' School Confidential Report, dated August 15, 1920 at Woking, the School's Commandant noted that "Lt-Col. Sykes is a keen officer who takes the greatest trouble with his work. Has a good knowledge of the application to the various arms of the principles of tactics. He gives good practical opinions in working out problems on the ground. A good knowledge of the details of his own arm and of training and command. Of very active habits, possessing force of character, with the gift I should say, of getting the best out of his subordinates. I recommend him for promotion." Sykes returned to the post-war European theatre, where he was posted to the Army on the Rhine, 18th Battery, 3rd Field Artillery in Germany for thirty-two months, from February 21, 1921 to October 23, 1923. Upon his return to the United Kingdom, he was appointed Depot Battery Commander and Administrative Commandant at the Artillery Practice Camp in Trawsfynydd, Wales and later, posted to Deepcut, Sussex on October 24, 1923. Sykes was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel on October 27th, 1925 and mentioned in the London Gazette on November 20, 1925 and posted to India. He was discharged from service on December 18, 1925, at the age of 52, having reached the maximum age allowable for service. He was credited with having served in India for ten years, in South Africa for four years, in New Zealand for two years and in Australia, France and Belgium, Egypt, Sinai Peninsula and Germany for three years. He attended three 2nd Army Brigade, New Zealand Field Artillery Reunions in 1927, 1928 and 1929. Sykes died on June 18, 1955 in St. Leonards-on-Sea, Hastings, East Sussex, England, at the age of 81, due to "Cardiac Failure", his medical records noting "Auricular Fibrillation" (abnormal heart rhythm) and "Myocardial Degeneration" (death of the area of the heart muscle as a result of oxygen deprivation, which in turn is caused by obstruction of the blood supply = heart attack).
bjubes
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Re: Trademes Colonel Francis Bernard Sykes DSO & Bar & MID

Postby biggles1 » Sun Jun 14, 2015 4:51 pm

Hi Ben

I see you have begun your listing today, of which I will be bidding on selected items. What other items e.g. uniform, medal group etc will you be listing in the future?

Cheers

Mark
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Re: Trademes Colonel Francis Bernard Sykes DSO & Bar & MID

Postby bjubes » Mon Jun 15, 2015 9:34 am

Hi Mark, At this stage the medal group and uniform are not on offer or with me so will not be listed. Thanks
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Re: Trademes Colonel Francis Bernard Sykes DSO & Bar & MID

Postby bjubes » Fri Oct 23, 2015 3:56 pm

For those keen on military memorabilia, guns, badges, medals WW2 German items, obsolete NZ police gear etc. Militaria & Gun Show (21st and 22nd November Sat 10am - 5pm Sun 10am -4pm) At Nelson Suburban Club & RSA 168 Tahunanui Drive Hosted by NZAHAA. We will have items on show and a couple of stalls as well as the many other collectors locally and from far and wide. With items for Trade, Sales and items for show there will be something for everyone. I understand there is still time to book a display/stall so get in touch with the NZ Antique & Historic Arms Assn Nelson Branch. Displays will include uniforms, Odd military historical items, military vehicles, Firearms, antique and modern and much more.
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