University of Oxford
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69939: Field glasses, Edward Sykes

physical object
posted on 2023-12-07, 12:48 authored by Oxford At War Project Team

Field glasses belonged to Edward Sykes, great-uncle of the contributor. Sykes was drafted in the last Tottenham-Edmonton area of London (Middlesex Regt). He survived the war and lived a long life. Served mostly in Belgium, wounded in the Somme area when a bullet went through leg. The glasses were issued to him. War stories from E Sykes Edward Sykes did not talk much about the war but a few stories survive. At the end of the war he was walking down a road in Belgium when an officer on horseback announced armistice. Sykes and his compatriots didn't understand what that was (partly because they were tired). On the day Edward was wounded in the leg, his mom claimed she also felt a sharp pain in the leg. Sykes stayed in camps before demobilization. He took courses while in camp, enrolled in course at Northumberland Fusiliers barracks. He was there during a soldiers' mutiny at the barracks and felt compelled to join in the mutiny. He was not punished after the munity was put down and he was sent back to his unit. Walked back to his own camp and stopped for the night at a house that billeted with Canadian soldiers, stayed for three weeks, slept in the attic. After three weeks a Canadian NCO questioned them and they were driven back to their camp, confined to barracks for three weeks as punishment for AWL. After the war, Sykes did not immediately find work. Ultimately he found work as a bottle-washer and eventually became foreman of bonded warehouse on the Thames. He used his skills as a rat-killer which he had acquired in the trenches to kill rats in the warehouse. Moved to Gloucestershire after London. Family very religious. The contributor only knew his uncle after he was retired. His aunt told him the story of the time when Edward's wife found him crying while watching television. It appears that the programme had reminded him of his friend Billy who was shot in the stomach and died in Edward's arms. He had never spoken about it - the first time was when he felt the memory while watching television. The glasses were given to the great-nephew (contributor) a few years ago. The great-nephew doesn't remember much about why Edward gave him the glasses, though he remembers having shown some interest in history so this is probably why Edward gave him the glasses. He now keeps the glasses wrapped in cloth, in a cupboard. He only knew his great-uncle after he was retired. (This story and material was shared at the Oxford at War 1914-1918 Roadshow on 12 Nov 2016)



Duncan Young

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Field glasses, Edward Sykes


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