Sidney was born in Oxford and gained a place at Jesus College. He soon joined up, and was sent to Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), where he fought alongside Indian troops.
Son of a printer
Sidney* James Griffin was born in Oxford in 1895. His father was a printer, presumably at Oxford University Press. When he was aged 13 Sidney went to Oxford Boys’ High School, and he became a pupil teacher. In 1914 he left to study at Jesus College but soon volunteered to fight.
Sent to Mesopotamia
Sidney joined the 3rd Battalion of the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry as a Second Lieutenant. At the end of 1915 they were sent to Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), where conditions were appalling, with extreme heat, floods, flies, mosquitoes and disease. A large body of British and Indian troops was under siege by the Ottoman Turks at Kut-al-Amara.
Fought alongside Indian troops
It proved impossible to relieve the siege and Sidney’s unit were not sent into action. In April 1916 the besieged troops surrendered, and after this embarrassment the British instituted a major reorganisation of the army. Sidney and his comrades were merged with soldiers of the Ox and Bucks 1st Battalion who had managed to escape. They served alongside Indian troops, and eventually became part of the 15th Indian Division.
Promoted to Captain
In September 1916 Sidney’s unit was involved in the capture of Ramadi. At some point he was promoted to Captain, and in March 1918 the battalion fought at Khan Baghdadi. Sidney was wounded and medical facilities were extremely limited. He died on 26 March at the age of 22. He was buried at Baghdad, and is remembered on the memorials of Oxford Boys’ High School, St Paul’s Church and Jesus College.
In 1920 Sidney’s parents and youngest siblings emigrated to Australia. His brother Herbert became Chairman for the Preservation of Rural England and was knighted in 1957.
* Sometimes spelt Sydney