Captain Sydney Reynold Clement

Survived the Boer War, killed in action at Gallipoli on the 25th April 1915.

Sydney Clement was born on the 4th March 1873 at Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, England. He was the second son of Reynold Clements of Snarestone Lodge in Snarestone, Leicestershire.

Sydney Reynold Clement AIF 1915

The Clement family has an extraordinary history, Sydney’s grandfather Hampden Clement was the owner of several large sugar plantations in Barbados and according to the slave register of 1823 he was the owner of 652 black and mulatto slaves. On the abolishment of slavery in 1834 the family moved back to England.

Sydney was privately educated by the Rev. John Robinson. He was still a pupil of Rev. Robinson in 1881 when he was 18. He does not appear to have attended University.
He joined the East Lancashire Regiment and saw service in the South African War. He was awarded the Queen’s South African campaign medal with clasps for Cape Colony, Orange Free State, and Johannesburg. Sydney had the distinction of serving in the same unit with a young Winston Churchill whom Sydney thought ‘was very bumptious’. During one particular irritating exchange Sydney took a soda siphon and squirted it down Winston’s neck.

On the death of his father in 1905 Sydney retired from the British Army with the rank of Captain and took over his father position as the Clerk of Course at Royal Ascot race Course. In this period he was enjoying a very comfortable lifestyle living at Royal Ascot in a house provided by the Course.

In 1905 when Sydney was 32 he married Gladys, aged 27, whom he had met at an Ascot Ball and they had two children Eric born in 1908 and David born in 1910.

With the death of King Edward V11 in 1910 and the coronation of George V the easy going life at Ascot changed dramatically for Sydney. It appears that Sydney had been racing his own horses and had incurred considerable debits for the stabling costs and gambling. The debit was owed to the Crown, a major criminal crime which would have incurred a long jail sentence. Sydney was dismissed as the Clerk of Course and took the only course of action he had available, quickly getting out of the country with the financial help of friends and family.

He left Gladys and his two children and embarked on the SS Orsova from London to Sydney on the 22 December 1911. He never saw his family again.

He was living in Melbourne in 1912 and appears to have sustained himself by publishing a private horse racing form guide which was sold for one shilling. In 1914 at the age of 41 he was living in East Melbourne and his occupation on the electoral Roll was listed as retired Army Captain.

On the 14 August 1914 he enlisted in the AIF and with his previous military background is appointed a lieutenant in the then being formed 5th Battalion. He was 41 years old, 6’1’’ tall and a trim 12 stone 4lb. His military background was quickly recognised and within three months on the 18th October 1914 he is promoted to Captain. He was given command of A Company 5th Battalion.

Captain Sydney Reynold Clement 1915 Egypt

The 5th Battalion departed from Melbourne on HMAT Orvieto [A3] on the 21 October 1914. The full details of the formation of the 5th Battalion and the training departure and time in Egypt are listed on here…

The War Diary for the 5th Battalion covering late April is not available so details of specific actions are vague; however we do know that the 5th Battalion was in the second wave of the landing at Gallipoli in the early morning of the 25th April 1914. Sydney would have been leading A company in the charge to the first objective, the third ridge line. The activity on this first day was chaotic units were acting independently with no real coordination. It appears that A company made good progress up the slopes and became separated from the main force. At the end of the day Sydney was not present at the roll call and was reported missing on the 25thApril 1914.

Sydney was confirmed Killed in Action on the 25th April 1914, on the 26th April 1914. His remains were initially buried at Brown’s Dip Cemetery which was about 500 yards south of Anzac Cove. He now lies in the Lone Pine Cemetery in Plot 1, Row F, Grave 9.

His wife Gladys was advised of his death and was awarded a pension of 101 pounds in December 1915. The two sons Eric and David both had children and I recently met Eric’s son in Melbourne. Sydney’s great Granddaughter, Eric’s daughter Nicky Clements is now living in Melbourne within several kilometres of her Great Grandfathers 1914 East Melbourne residence.

Contact Peter Fielding about this article.

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