|Date of Birth||January 19, 1885|
|Place of Birth||Rochester, Kent|
|Next of Kin||Florence Turner (wife), Middlesbrough, Yorkshire, England|
|Trade / Calling||Steelworker|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Battalion||1st/5th Durham Light Infantry|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Address at Enlistment||Middlesbrough, Yorkshire, England|
|Date of Enlistment||August 31, 1914|
|Age at Enlistment||29|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||August 20, 1974|
|Age at Death||89|
|Buried At||Victory Memorial Park, Surrey, British Columbia|
Corporal Sidney Charles Turner enlisted in the British army in August 1914, just a few weeks after the war started. He served for four and a half years and was wounded twice, in 1915 and 1916. After the war he immigrated to Canada and settled in northwestern Ontario.
Sidney was the son of George Edmund Turner and Elizabeth Ann Hall of Rochester, Kent county, England. George was born in Southwark, London and he was a sail maker by trade. Elizabeth was from Sunderland in County Durham. They were married in 1878 and over the next twenty years they had at least nine children, all born in Rochester: Dixon George, Thomas Stewart, Herbert Alfred, Sidney Charles, Arthur Newly, Ernest William, Mary Eleanor, Elsie Dorothy and Leonard Hall. Sidney was born on 19 January 1885. When the 1901 census was taken he was a millwright’s apprentice and his father was a sail maker’s foreman. The following year Sidney joined the Imperial Yeomanry and apparently saw service in South Africa. The Imperial Yeomanry was a volunteer mounted force that was formed in 1900 and served in the Second Boer War before being disbanded in 1908.
Sidney was married on 26 March 1910 in Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland county. His wife, Florence Spice, was born in 1882 in Bapchild, Kent, the middle of five children of George Spice and Maria Coom. When the 1911 census was taken Sidney and his wife were living Middlesbrough, Yorkshire. Sidney was employed at a steel rolling mill and his widowed mother was also living with them. Sidney and Florence’s oldest son, George Dixon (aka Richard), was born in Middlesbrough in 1911. He was followed by a second son, Geoffrey, in 1913. The war started on 4 August 1914 and Sidney enlisted on 31 August in Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham. His occupation was steelworker and next of kin was his wife Florence in Middlesbrough. He joined the 5th Battalion (1st/5th) Durham Light Infantry and they trained in the UK over the winter. They were sent to France on 17 April 1915, sailing from Folkestone and landing at Boulogne.
Just days later Sidney’s unit was in Belgium at the 2nd Battle of Ypres (22 April-25 May 1915). Sydney was one of the casualties in early May, possibly at Frezenberg, when he sustained a shrapnel wound to his left leg. He was admitted to No. 14 General Hospital in Wimereux on 14 May then evacuated to England. He recovered at the City of London Military Hospital from 28 May to 12 June then spent some time in the Orchard Convalescent Hospital in Dartford. He was back in France in mid-July. Over the next year his unit served in the trenches in the Ypres Salient and the Armentieres and Kemmel areas. In January 1916 he was appointed Lance Corporal and in June he was promoted to Corporal.
Sidney was wounded again on 28 July 1916, possibly during the second phase of the Somme Offensive, this time suffering a gunshot wound to his left arm. He was sent to No. 30 General Hospital then evacuated to England in early August. After recovering he was assigned to munitions work in his hometown of Middlesbrough, where he likely served for the rest of the war. He was discharged from the army on 25 March 1919, with his character described as very good. He was awarded the 1914-15 Star and the British War and Victory medals.
Sidney and Florence had a daughter, Margaret Elsie, born in late 1919 in Middlesbrough. The following year they immigrated to Canada, sailing from Liverpool on the SS Caronia and arriving in Halifax on 20 May 1920. Sidney’s brother Ernest had moved to Canada in 1919 and his brother Leonard followed later in 1920. When the 1921 census was taken Sidney, Florence, their three children as well as Ernest and Leonard were living together in St. James, which is now part of the city of Winnipeg. The three men were all employed in boat building. Sometime after that Sidney, Florence and Ernest moved to the village of Minaki in northwestern Ontario.
Sidney had a long career as a fire ranger with the forestry branch of the Ontario government. He enlisted again during the Second World War and served with the Canadian forces. Both of his sons joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. Before the war Geoffrey had served with the Cadet Corps, the Kenora Light Infantry and the Winnipeg Grenadiers. He was an optician and living in Winnipeg when he enlisted with the air force in 1940. He became a Flight Lieutenant and earned a Distinguished Flying Cross. Sadly, he was killed during an operation over Germany on 23 September 1943 and he’s buried in Rheinberg War Cemetery. Dixon served as a flight instructor and coastal patrol pilot and survived the war. He had a career in forestry protection, like his father, and moved to Kenora in 1947.
An article in the Kenora Miner and News in March 1951 mentioned that Minaki resident Sidney Turner was in Deer Lodge Hospital in Winnipeg and at the time he was the only patient who had been in the South African War and both World Wars. His son Dixon died in 1958 and he’s buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora. Daughter Margaret or “Peg” (Mrs. Walter Hukkanen) moved to North Surrey, British Columbia. Sidney and Florence celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at Margaret’s home in North Surrey in March 1960. Sidney was retired by then and he and his wife lived in Minaki for at least five more years.
Sidney passed away at the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, British Columbia on 20 August 1974, at age 89. He’s buried in Victory Memorial Park in Surrey. His wife died at the same hospital on 3 June 1975, at age 92. Their daughter Margaret “Peg” Hukkanen passed away in Surrey in 2004.
By Becky Johnson
Photos courtesy of Turner and Spice public family trees on ancestry.com.