John Sydney Whitehead Private 15/960  1st Leeds Pals

Arthur Whitehead            Private 15/961  1st Leeds Pals

When the 1901 census was taken 4 year old Sydney and 11 year old Arthur were living at 48 Victoria Road in the Headingley area of Leeds, with their father, Harry, a printer, mother Emily, sister Gertrude (13)  and younger brother Harry (1).The family were still at the same address in 1911 when Arthur (20) was a printer and Sydney (14) was described as an engineer printer.(Find My Past)

In September 1914 the two brothers joined the 15th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment (The 1st Leeds Pals) on its formation.  Arthur’s attestation papers, dated September 12th 1914, state that Arthur had been apprenticed to Alf Cooke’s Print Works.  He was 5 foot 8 inches in height, his teeth were “fair”.  He weighed 11 and a half stone and had a 37 inch chest measurement.  His religion was described as Wesleyan.  His complexion was sallow , his eyes brown and his hair black.  From their service numbers the brothers must have volunteered together.  Sydney was trained as a Platoon Bomber.  He was one of the Leeds Pals killed on July 1st, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, aged 20. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Panel 1.  Arthur was discharged on June 5th 1915 as unfit for further service.   “Flat feet” is noted on his discharge papers.  Arthur married and in the 1939 register was living  at 43 The Drive, Leeds, with his wife, son and daughter.  He is described as a master printer and his son, Kenneth, is also a printer (Find My Past).

The entry for John Sydney in the Leeds Modern School Memorial book reads : “John Sydney Whitehead was the second son of Mr and Mrs H Whitehead of May Bank, Victoria Road, Headingley, his father being a partner in in J Whitehead and Son, Printers and Lithographers, of Alfred Street.  On leaving school he entered the works of an engineering firm.”( Leeds Boys’ Modern School “Memorial”)

He is commemorated on the World War 1 memorial board at Headingley Methodist Church.


                                                John Sydney Whitehead

Researcher Jane Luxton

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