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Village History

Sidney’s story

Posted on April 23 2014 at 12:23:17 0 comments


A Hopwood man’s medal for bravery in the First World War inspired us to find out more about him.

We love a good mystery here at The Village, so when a reader asked us to help find out more about a local man who fought in the First World War and was recognised for his bravery, we were eager to investigate.

The villager had come into possession of three medals which had belonged to his neighbour in Hopwood – one Sidney George Vaines, who died in 1980.

The medal pictured above left is the Military Medal, which was presented for “gallantry and devotion to duty when under fire in battle on land”.

The edge is inscribed with Sidney’s name, along with other markings which enabled us to find out his rank (Driver in the Royal Field Artillery), regiment (118159) and company (C Battery, 93rd Brigade). But what we wanted to know was why this particular medal was awarded to Sidney.

Our online research led us to the National Archives, which hold information about medals awarded to British soldiers.

We obtained a copy of Sidney’s medal card, which tells us that he won the Military Medal for actions in France – as recorded in the London Gazette on June 12, 1918.

The Royal Artillery Museum in Woolwich informed us that this edition of the Gazette was dedicated to those who won medals in March 1918, in the first few days of the German offensive on the Western Front, although we still don’t know the exact details or location of Sidney’s act of gallantry.

Fixed shot

The Gazette did reveal that Sidney was listed as living in Kidderminster at the time of the war, and the 1901 census confirms that he was born in that town in 1894.

We don’t know when he moved to Hopwood, but he lived there for some years until his death, with his wife Eva – who, we’re told, may have been a Russian emigrée who had crossed Europe on a horse and cart.

Their neighbours recall that their cottage never had electricity and they always got their water from a well in the garden.

Sidney and Eva have a headstone in St Laurence churchyard, and with the help of Anne Humphries of Alvechurch Historical Society, we were able to locate it.

The inscription reads: “In loving memory of Sidney George Vaines 1894–1980; Eva Josephine Vaines 1903–1987. Always be remembered with love, Ivy”.

Does anyone know who Ivy might be? We’ve been told that Sidney and Eva didn’t have any children, so could she be another relative or a friend?

And do any readers know anything else about Sidney and Eva? If so, please get in touch!

Sidney also brought back another interesting souvenir (pictured right) – according to the Royal Artillery Museum, it’s a British 1-pound Mark 1 (I 1-pr) fixed shot (FS) made by Vickers Sons & Maxim (VSM) in Enfield on December 18, 1914, and would have been fired by a 1pr maxim gun.

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