The Personal Wartime Correspondence of Lieut-Col F.B. Sykes DSO NZFA
The Personal Wartime Correspondence of Lieut-Col F.B. Sykes DSO NZFA - Oudh Light Horse Corps Certificate of Efficiency and Record of Service (dated November 23, 1898, 157 mm x 415 mm, fold marks), Officer's Record of Services Army Book 489 (fold-over cover with snap closure, 110 mm x 140 mm), Discharge Certificate from No. 2 New Zealand Contingent (on parchment, numbered "37", dated December 20, 1900, 168 mm x 228 mm), 2nd Lieutenant Commission Document (appointing Sykes as an Officer in the Land Forces effective May 23, 1900, embossed stamped, with one pound ten shillings seal, dated February 17, 1901, 301 mm x 403 mm,), Lieutenant Commission Document (on parchment, appointing Sykes as a Lieutenant in the New Zealand Militia effective January 13, 1901, embossed stamped, dated December 12, 1901, 225 mm x 340 mm), Handwritten Service Record (dated 1925, 332 mm x 415 mm), Typewritten Service Record (335 mm x 417 mm, fold marks, in its mailing envelope, registered at Hastings, stamped, postmarked St. Leonards-on-Sea and dated January 31, 1955, two red Barclays Bank Limited St. Leonard wax seals on the reverse, 101 mm x 240 mm), Post Office Telegraph (informing Lieutenant Sykes, 124th Battery, Royal Field Artillery, Woolwich, that his appointment as Lieutenant in the 31st Battalion, Imperial Yeomanry was approved by the War Office, dated March 11, 1902, 137 mm x 219 mm), Examination for Promotion of Officers of all Arms in Subjects (d) to (j) and of Majors of the Royal Army Medical Corps in Technical Subjects (dated October 1908, twelve pages, with Sykes, Royal Horse Artillery listed on page 2, passing (d), (e) and (j), 217 mm x 343 mm, with attached by string Statement of Marks, 214 mm x 343 mm), Permanent Certificate of Qualification in Subject (C) for Promotion (confirming that Sykes had been examined and was fitted for the rank of Captain, dated February 10, 1909, 218 mm x 342 mm, edge wear), Instructor's Certificate of Signalling (confirming Sykes had passed a course of Instruction in Signalling at Pretoria, South Africa, dated May 29, 1905, 205 mm x 255 mm), University of London Certificate of Matriculation (achieved in January 1892 and placed in the First Division, dated February 24, 1892, 278 mm x 377 mm), Card From E.C. Clark - Regius Professor of Civil Law at Cambridge (confirming Sykes had passed the First Part of the Cambridge Law Tripos of 1894 and therein passed a sufficient examination in Roman Law, dated June 2, 1894, 76 mm x 105 mm), two Letters from Tutor and Praelector A.W.W. Dale at Trinity Hall in Cambridge (dated June 5, 1896, with red wax seals, 176 mm x 227 mm each), Council of Legal Education Certificate (stating he passed his examination at Lincoln's Inn before Trinity Term 1896, CLE embossed stamped, signed and dated June 2, 1896, 337 mm x 502 mm), Letter from Gray's Inn Confirming that Sykes was admitted as a Student to the Honourable Society of Grey's Inn on June 4, 1892 and that he was called to the bar on June 17, 1896, dated March 9, 1897, 228 mm x 357 mm), Gray's Inn Certificate (confirming Sykes was called to the Degree of an Utter Barrister by the Honourable Society of Gray's Inn, dated June 17, 1896, red embossed seal stamped, 328 mm x 415 mm), Court of the Judicial Commission of Oudh Document (stating that Sykes had been admitted and enrolled an Advocate of the Court, with large Court stamp in black ink, dated April 23, 1897, Indian script on the reverse, 208 mm x 333 mm), High Court of Judicature for the North Western Provinces Document (stating that Sykes had been admitted and enrolled as an Advocate in the High Court, dated March 27, 1897, stamped in green ink with the High Court seal, large Five Hundred Rupees masthead, 263 mm x 418 mm), Letter from the War Office (confirming Sykes promotion to 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery, dated February 15, 1901, 207 mm x 333 mm), Letter from the War Office (confirming Sykes as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery an directing him to join the 124th Battery before May 9th at Woolridge, dated April 15, 1901, 202 mm x 330 mm), Letter from the War Office (giving his marks and stating that he had to pass (C) in order to achieve the rank of Major, dated January 7, 1918, 208 mm x 33 mm), Letter from the War Office (stating that Sykes' claim to the WWI Trio had been noted, dated November 22, 1919, 193 mm x 247 mm, minor tear at the top of the page), three Letters from the War Office (dated August 12, October 28 and November 6, 1925, with accompanying letters stapled to them, 190 mm x 241 mm each), National Registration Identity Card (numbered "FA 922377", stamped, black and white photo of Sykes embossed stamped with the "BOROUGH OF SUDBURY" mark, 82 mm x 127 mm), County of West Suffolk Air Raid Precautions Identification Card (hardcovered, identifying Sykes as an Air Warden, 55 mm x 78 mm), Letter from Alex Sonley (sending wishes to Sykes, hoping "you will now finish up a Field Marshal", with Government House, Salisbury embossed masthead, dated November 13, 1925, 190 mm x 238 mm), Baptism Certificate for F.B. Sykes at Christ Church in Lucknow, Oudh (birth having taken place on December 18, 1873, dated October 7, 1890, 160 mm x 405 mm), Baptism Registration Certificate for F.B. Sykes (birth having taken place on December 18, 1873, registration dated July 29, 1874, 106 mm x 408 mm, fold marks), Certified Copy on an Entry of Birth (numbered "IT 027679", stating Sykes died on June 18, 1955, dated June 20, 1955, 165 mm x 357 mm), Certificate of Registration of Death (numbered "ZB 873857", 140 mm x 157 mm), Baptism Certificate for his wife, Alice Sykes (nee Watson) (born on September 8, 1873 and baptized on October 4, 1873, dated December 27, 1893, with a one penny stamp, 113 mm x 181 mm), Extract Entry of Birth for Sykes' Daughter - Violet Evelyn Augusta Sykes (born on July 7, 1913, dated July 23, 1913 at Ayr, 141 mm x 338 mm), Envelope Addressed to Mrs. Sykes (registered at Kensington, stamped, postmarked March 25, 1915, green wax seal on the reverse, 107 mm x 240 mm), Letter from Canterbury College at Christchurch, New Zealand (appointing him Assistant Master for one Month at the Boys' High School in Christchurch, dated July 19, 1899, 208 mm x 333 mm), Senior Officers' School Confidential Report (dated August 15, 1920, 206 mm x 320 mm), three page Letter from General Sir Alexander J. Godley, KCB, KCMG, ADC (Gen.), Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Command at Salisbury (clarifying Sykes status within the Army, dated October 20, 1925, 190 mm x 230 mm), Essex County Hospital Admission Card (numbered "26199", 62 mm x 101 mm), four Letters of Recommendation, Army & Navy Co-operative Society Note Papers and Card (112 mm x 177 mm (2) and 76 mm x 94 mm (1) respectively), a Rocket Troop Royal Horse Artillery Christmas and New Years' Card (with colour insert illustrating the Rocket Brigade at the Battle of Leipzig, 1813, 120 mm x 177 mm), seven Newspaper Articles Pasted Into a Hardcovered Tab Booklet, 63 mm x 125 mm), assorted letters, greeting cards, postcards, along with copies of his Distinguished Service Order announcement in the Edinburgh Gazette, page 1711 on November 12, 1915 and his citation for his additional D.S.O. Bar from the London Gazette, page 579 on January 11, 1919. Some of the original papers exhibit fold marks. Accompanied by a Photograph of Six Artillery Cannons (black and white, each attended by for men, sitting upon railway tracks facing outward towards a harbour, with other soldiers in the background, 113 mm x 153 mm), a Sketch of Sykes (hand-drawn line work, in black ink, 133 mm x 211 mm), a Photo of Sykes Taken a Program (in magenta and black inks, 122 mm x 197 mm), an International Exhibition Co-operative Wine Society Limited in London Empties Receipt Mailing Card (addressed to "Lt Col. F.B. Sykes, RA, Abbotsford Private Hotel, Warrior Square, St. Leonards on Sea, Sussex, postmarked, 89 mm x 114 mm), two Theatre Programs (one for "Fun and Games" at the Princes Theatre in London, the other for "Rise Above It" at the Comedy Theatre in London, 127 mm x 203 mm and 110 mm x 142 mm respectively), two Wedding Invitations for the Watson-Sykes Wedding (113 mm x 177 mm each), Sykes-Watson Wedding Reception Menu Card (with multiple attendee signatures, lightly soiled, 95 mm x 149 mm), two S. Mary's Church in Gainford Wedding Programs (112 mm x 153 mm), two large London Times Sykes-Watson Marriage Announcement Cards (dated September 30, 1911, 79 mm x 130 mm each), a large London Times Birth Announcement Card for Sykes' Daughter (dated July 10, 1913, 79 mm x 130 mm), three small Wharton & Co. Peterborough Sykes-Watson Marriage Announcement Cards (dated September 30, 1911, 62 mm x 103 mm each), a small Wharton & Co. Peterborough Birth Announcement Card for Sykes' Daughter (dated July 10, 1913, with glassine sleeve, 62 mm x 103 mm), two small Golden Wedding Anniversary for Watson-Bridgman (dated August 17, 1921, one with a glassine sleeve, 63 mm x 105 mm each), a Death Notice (inscribed "In loving Memory of Mary Countess Rostovtzoff, Died 4/16 January 1889 at Odessa on the inside panels in Russian and English, 71 mm x 107 mm), a Pair of Binoculars (brass with mother-of-pearl barrels, maker marked "PICARD Ft PARIS" on the eyepieces, centre focusing ring, glass objective and ocular lenses, 42.3 mm x 103.2 mm x 78.3 mm), two Ivory Ties on a Dual Strand Red Ribbon (7.5 mm x 21.5 mm and 8.5 mm x 26 mm), five Identification Tags: a New Zealand Military Forces Identification Tag (steel, stamped "N.Z. MIL. FORCES MAJOR F.B. SYKES CE 2 BAT. REGT F.A.", 39 mm; two New Zealand Field Artillery Identification Tags (bakelite, one round, one octagonal, stamped "LT. COL. SYKES. F.B. N.Z.F.A. C.E.", 35 mm and 32 mm x 37.5 mm respectively; two Royal Field Artillery Identification Tags (bakelite, one round and stamped "LT. COL. F.B. SYKES. D.S.O. R.F.A.", the other octagonal and stamped "LT. COL. SYKES. F.B. D.S.O. R.F.A.', 36 mm and 33.2 mm x 39.8 mm respectively; tied together via a string), his Geometric Calculation Kit Folder (pebbled black leather exterior, soft smooth brown leather interior with pockets, inscribed in ink "F.B. Sykes Lt. R.H.A." on the front inside cover, enclosing a rectangular measuring tool (plastic, maker marked "J.H. STEWARD, LONDON" and hand scratched with the initials "FBS", 47 mm x 95 mm) and a pencil (made in Austria, 6.2 mm x 137 mm), with metal slider closure, 100 mm x 165 mm x 7 mm), a Hardcovered Folder (enclosing three Programs, entitled "First Re-union 2nd Army Brigade N.Z.F.A. held at Dustin's Cuba Street, October 15th. 1927" with multiple attendee signatures, "The Second Annual Re-union of the 2nd Army Brigade N.Z.F.A. Basin Reserve Pavilion August 11th, 1928" with multiple attendee signatures, "Third Re-union 2nd (Army) Brigade, N.Z.F.A., Community Hall, Buckle Street on Saturday, 14th September, 1929" and "Dinner on occasion of the Tenth Re-union of Officers who served in the New Zealand Field Artilery, New Zealand Expeditionary Force 1914-1918, Saturday, 8th August, 1936 at The Canterbury Club", along with five newspaper articles and two letters, 145 mm x 220 mm x 13 mm), his Personal Address Book (red paper cover, ruled white paper pages with addresses inscribed in handwritten ink, 113 mm x 177 mm x 8 mm, spine wear), his Personal Addresses Directory (brown fabric cover with gold-colored designs, marked "ADDRESSES" on the spine, ruled white paper pages with notations inscribed in handwritten ink, 168 mm x 210 mm x 14 mm), his Personal Ledger (marker "Ledger" on the maroon fabric cover, ruled white paper pages with notations inscribed in handwritten ink, 105 mm x 160 mm x 12 mm, wear at the top of the spine), a Book of Common Prayer with Hymns (forest green fabric cover, printed by Oxford University Press in London, three sepia-toned photos of Sykes pasted on the inside front cover spread, inscribed in black ink "To A. from B. 8 Sept 1911. Not forgetting?" on the first page, 95 mm x 155 mm x 31.5 mm), a Luggage Tag (yellow paper, inscribed "COLONEL SYKES / ABBOTSFORD HOTEL / WARRIOR SQUARE / St. LEONARDS-ON-SEA / LOUNGE." on the obverse, "PICKFORDS LTD." label inscribed "Sykes SR 50851" on the reverse, 60 mm x 120 mm) and an Envelope With A Curl of Blonde Hair Enclosed Attributed to Sykes' Future Wife (inscribed "Alice's Hair 1876 Aged 3" on the front, 65 mm x 90 mm),Footnote: Francis Bernard Sykes was born on December 18, 1873, the son of Thomas Gertbell Sykes and Mary Elizabeth Sykes. His father was the the former Principal of La Martiniere College in Lucknow, India. In addition to English, Sykes spoke three other languages: Hindustani (at a higher standard), along with Persian and French (at a lower standard). He matriculated at London University in 1892 and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Cambridge University, 1st Part, Law Tripos in 1895. While at Cambridge, he served with the Cambridge University Volunteer Rifle Corps from November 12, 1892 to March 31, 1895, a total of two years and 141 days. Sykes was called to the Degree of an Utter Barrister (Bar) by the Honourable Society of Gray's Inn on June 17, 1896 and as a Barrister-at-Law, practised for two years in India and resided in Lucknow. In addition to his legal career, he served with the Oudh Light Horse Corps (No. 183) from April 1, 1896 to March 31, 1899, where it was noted that he was "Extra Efficient". He later moved to New Zealand and is documented as having been appointed Assistant Master for one Month at the Boys' High School at Canterbury College in Christchurch, in July 1899. He was named 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery on May 23, 1900 and gazetted accordingly. Sykes initially served with the 6th Contingent (City of Wellington) Mounted Rifles, then served with the 2nd and 5th Battalions, 2nd Contingent, Mounted Rifles, New Zealand Contingent in South Africa, beginning in January 1900, then sailed for home on January 30, 1901 aboard the Transport Ship Cornwall. Sykes was awarded the Queen's South Africa Medal with 5 Clasps, having participated in operations in the Orange Free State (May 1900), including actions at Vet River (May 5 and 6, 1900), at Zand River, in the Transvaal (May and June 1900), including actions hear Johannesburg and Pretoria, at Cape Colony, south of Orange River (1899-1900, February to March 1901 and in May 1902), credited with having served thirteen months during the Boer War. After the War, he was posted for nine months to the 124th Battalion, Royal Field Artillery at Woolwich, from April 1901 to January 1902. While at Woolwich, he was promoted to Lieutenant on December 22, 1901. He was transferred as a Lieutenant, to the 31st Battalion, Imperial Yeomanry (Fincastles Horse), as approved by the War Office, on March 11, 1902, where he served from January to May 1902, followed by a transfer to O.2 Section Pompons. Sykes returned to South Africa, where he passed a course of Instruction in Signalling at Pretoria, South Africa in May 1905, achieving his Instructor's Certificate. He was posted to the 84th Battery, Royal Field Artillery at M'burg in November 1906, then followed them to the Madras region of India, where he served from November 1906 to January 1907. He was transferred to "O" Battery, Royal Horse Artillery, where he served from January 1907 to February 1911 in Lucknow, Secunderabad, Bangalore. Lieutenant F.B. Sykes (No. 345), Royal Horse Artillery was examined for promotion, the examination held in India in October 1908, and he was fitted for the rank of Captain in February 1909. He was promoted to Captain on January 1, 1911 and posted for one year to the 72nd Battery, Royal Field Artillery at Bulford, Wiltshire, England, close to Salisbury Plain, from February 1911 to February 1912. While at Bulford, Sykes married Alice Augusta Watson on September 26, 1911 in Gainford, County Durham, England (his next-of-kin later acknowledged as his wife, Mrs. F.B. Sykes of Gainford, Vicarage, Darlington, Durham). The couple were to have one daughter, Violet Evelyn Augusta Sykes, who was born on July 7, 1913. He was named Adjutant with the Ayrshire Royal Horse Artillery Territorial Force at Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland, where he served from February 1912 to July 11, 1914. Sykes left the United Kingdom and was appointed Assistant Inspector of Artillery and Director of Ordnance Stores at Wellington, New Zealand, where he served from July 11, 1914 to September 25, 1914. Upon the outbreak of hostilities in the European War, Lieutenant-Colonel Sykes (No. 2/793) joined the New Zealand Field Artillery, using his experience as an Inspector of Artillery with the New Zealand Defence Forces and placed in Command of the 2nd Brigade, New Zealand Field Artillery. Sykes was part of the Main Body of the Embarkation Unit, Field Artillery (listed on on page 707 of the Nominal Roll), that embarked Wellington, New Zealand aboard His Majesty's New Zealand Transport 7 Limerick, on October 16, 1914, disembarking in Suez, Egypt, which was followed by a promotion two weeks later to Major on October 30th. In the Spring, Sykes was transferred for action on the Turkish front, departing Alexandria, Egypt for Gallipoli in April 1915, aboard His Majesty's New Zealand Transport Surada, which carried both New Zealand and Australian Divisions. An account exists, describing the harrowing experience at Gallipoli and mentioning Major Sykes in action with the 2nd New Zealand Battery: "The Turks were in great force and very full of fight, yet one weak Australian brigade, numbering at the outset but 2,000 rifles, and supported only by two weak battalions, carried the work under the eyes of a whole enemy division, and maintained their grip upon it like a vice during the six days' successive counter-attacks. High praise is due to Brigadier-General N.M. Smyth and to his battalion commanders. The irresistible dash and daring of officers and men in the initial charge were a glory to Australia. The stout-heartedness with which they clung to the captured ground in spite of fatigue, severe losses, and the continual strain of shell fire and bomb attacks may seem less striking to the civilian; it is even more admirable to the soldier. From start to finish the artillery support was untiring and vigilant. Owing to the rapid, accurate fire of the 2nd New Zealand Battery, under Major Sykes, several of the Turkish onslaughts were altogether defeated in their attempts to get to grips with the Australians. Not a chance was lost by these gunners, although time and again the enemy's artillery made direct hits on their shields. The hand-to-hand fighting in the semi-obscurity of the trenches was prolonged and very bitterly contested. In one corner, eight Turks and six Australians were found lying as they had bayonetted one another. To make room for the fighting men, the dead were ranged in rows on either side of the gangway. After the first violence of the counter-attacks had abated, 1,000 corpses (from both sides) were dragged out from the trenches." Sykes was named Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel by New Zealand orders on June 2, 1915 and gazetted in the London Gazette on August 28, 1915, followed by a promotion to Lieutenant-Colonel on August 28th. Sykes was awarded the Companion of the Distinguished Service Order as a "Major (Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel) Francis Bernard Sykes, Royal Artillery (attached New Zealand Imperial Force)", with the New Zealand Artillery, "For distinguished service in the field during the operations in the Dardanelles." The D.S.O. announcement appeared in the London Gazette on November 8, 1915 and in the Edinburgh Gazette, page 1711 on November 12, 1915. He was later awarded the Bar to the DSO while with the 3rd Army on October 9, 1918, the announcement appearing in the London Gazette, page 579 on January 11, 1919, with the citation stating "For conspicuous gallantry and able leadership. He went forward through a heavy gas barrage on two occasions to deal with an obscure situation and, though severely gassed, continued to direct operations. He utilised four artillery brigades with great ability to crush counter-attacks, and on one occasion, in the absence of linesmen, he personally carried a wire forward under intense machine-gun fire and, thus getting into telephonic communication with batteries, scattered, with great losses the enemy whom he had observed to be massing for an advance. His courage, endurance and skill were admirable." Sykes is credited with having commanded the 2nd Battery, New Zealand Field Artillery, from September 25, 1914 to June 2, 1915 in Egypt and Gallipoli and having commanded the 2nd Brigade New Zealand Field Artillery, under Commander Lieutenant-Colonel (Temporary Brigadier-General) G.N. Johnston, R.A.A.D.C., from June 2, 1915 to March 14, 1918 in Gallipoli, Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula. He had also been Mentioned in Despatches in June 1915, May 17, 1917 and December 28, 1917, as well as in New Zealand Divisional Orders on April 7, 1918 and in the Times on May 28, 1918. He returned to the United Kingdom to attend a Senior Officers Course of Gunnery at Shoeburyness, Essex, England in 1917 and would return for an additional course in 1920. Sykes' earlier successes in the Turkish theatre aided him in the upcoming conflict in Western Europe. He commanded the 168th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery in Belgium from March 14 to 27, 1918, then commanded the 223rd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery for the next year in France and Belgium, from March 27, 1918 to March 24, 1919. He is documented in his service records as having been three weeks in the Fleuxbaix Sector and four weeks in Ypres Westhock Sector with the New Zealand Division, while in France and Belgium. Post-war, he was Mentioned in Despatches on December 23, 1918 and July 10, 1919 and was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, along with being promoted to Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel on June 3, 1919, as documented in the London Gazette on January 10, 1919. Sykes was placed on six months sick leave, from March 24 to September 30, 1919. It was noted on April 9th at Gainford that he was experiencing "heart failure" following a bout of influenza, developing a "weak heart". Another assessment at Middlesborough on August 23rd noted that his heart had already been affected by repeated "Gassings" in 1917-1918 and he was subsequently Classified "C.1." while at Catterick and later, posted to No. 2 Depot, Royal Field Artillery at Preston on June 23, 1919. In his Senior Officers' School Confidential Report, dated August 15, 1920 at Woking, the School's Commandant noted that "Lt-Col. Sykes is a keen officer who takes the greatest trouble with his work. Has a good knowledge of the application to the various arms of the principles of tactics. He gives good practical opinions in working out problems on the ground. A good knowledge of the details of his own arm and of training and command. Of very active habits, possessing force of character, with the gift I should say, of getting the best out of his subordinates. I recommend him for promotion." Sykes returned to the post-war European theatre, where he was posted to the Army on the Rhine, 18th Battery, 3rd Field Artillery in Germany for thirty-two months, from February 21, 1921 to October 23, 1923. Upon his return to the United Kingdom, he was appointed Depot Battery Commander and Administrative Commandant at the Artillery Practice Camp in Trawsfynydd, Wales and later, posted to Deepcut, Sussex on October 24, 1923. Sykes was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel on October 27th, 1925 and mentioned in the London Gazette on November 20, 1925 and posted to India. He was discharged from service on December 18, 1925, at the age of 52, having reached the maximum age allowable for service. He was credited with having served in India for ten years, in South Africa for four years, in New Zealand for two years and in Australia, France and Belgium, Egypt, Sinai Peninsula and Germany for three years. He attended three 2nd Army Brigade, New Zealand Field Artillery Reunions in 1927, 1928 and 1929. Sykes died on June 18, 1955 in St. Leonards-on-Sea, Hastings, East Sussex, England, at the age of 81, due to "Cardiac Failure", his medical records noting "Auricular Fibrillation" (abnormal heart rhythm) and "Myocardial Degeneration" (death of the area of the heart muscle as a result of oxygen deprivation, which in turn is caused by obstruction of the blood supply = heart attack).