Battlefields tour: Emotional visit to relative’s grave moves reporter

PUBLISHED: 12:19 13 February 2015 | UPDATED: 16:41 13 February 2015

Reporter Beth Wyatt at the grave of her great-great uncle Sidney Stone, in the Somme. Picture: Erica Spurrier/Equity

Reporter Beth Wyatt at the grave of her great-great uncle Sidney Stone, in the Somme. Picture: Erica Spurrier/Equity


As a former history student and the co-ordinator of my team’s First World War centenary coverage, I jumped at the chance to go on the tour.

The grave of reporter Beth Wyatt's great-great uncle Sidney Stone, in Connaught Cemetery, in the Somme. Picture: Erica Spurrier/EquityThe grave of reporter Beth Wyatt's great-great uncle Sidney Stone, in Connaught Cemetery, in the Somme. Picture: Erica Spurrier/Equity

Having always wanted to visit the Somme, it was an incredible and poignant opportunity to stand where thousands of soldiers fought and died almost 100 years ago.

The tour was full of emotional moments.

Cpl Lee Phillips spoke movingly at the Tyne Cot Cemetery about what remembrance means to him, having lost comrades while fighting in Afghanistan.

We were all affected by his words, with some of us close to tears.

I also paid my commemorations at my great-great uncle’s grave.

Lance Sgt Sidney Stone, born in 1896 and a soldier in the 1st Battalion of the Cambridgeshire Regiment, is buried at Connaught Cemetery, in the Somme.

I knew his grave was there but, thanks to the researching skills and knowledge of tour guides Allan Wood and Terry Webb and soldier Paul Barnes, I now know he was a soldier pre-war, who did basic training in Suffolk, began the war as a private and arrived in France on February 14 1915.

Sidney’s battalion arrived the next day and he came under the command of the 82nd Brigade.

He transferred to the 118th Brigade 39th Division, which fought near Richebourg on June 13 1916, at the Battle of Thiepval Ridge in September and at the Battle of the Ancre Heights.

The latter culminated in the successful capture of German strong point the Schwaben Redoubt, on October 14 – the day of Sidney’s death.

Allan estimated that Sidney is buried less than a quarter of a mile from where he was killed.

As I lay a cross with my name on at his grave, the rest of the party stood in silence, which only added to the emotion I was feeling.

As someone who even connects to war poetry and any soldier’s story, it was a difficult moment.

The tour was an unforgettable experience, with laughs among the more poignant times, and all of us have come away with new friends.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

I live in the north west of London in the United Kingdom. Like the rest of the country, I have been looking on in bewilderment at the Brexit deal while politicians on both sides of the house vie for political supremacy. Divisions in government make for good news headlines but do nothing for the public’s confidence in its institutions.

Fri, 16:24

Normally we celebrate one business of the week – but today we’ve got three!

Fri, 15:17

A Routemaster bus will take 72 passengers on a journey through Greek Cypriot history, via Camden and Holloway, on Sunday.

Fri, 12:12

The latest twist in the saga of a Hampstead landlord who refuses to pay a controversial levy saw him bring a top barrister to his court hearing.

Fri, 09:48

Opponents of the 100 Avenue Road development suffered a major blow last night as Camden voted through a controversial plan that will funnel seven lorries a day through residential streets in Swiss Cottage.

Thu, 17:35

The families left homeless by the fire that destroyed the upper floors of Willow House in East Finchley last week said Barnet Council treated them “like ants to be squashed” in the immediate aftermath of the fire.

Thu, 12:44

The Temple Fortune community was celebrating on Tuesday after Barnet’s Finchley and Golders Green planning committee unanimously rejected plans to build housing on the old Templars Tennis Club.

Thu, 12:10

Tens of thousands of pounds, weapons and drugs were seized after searching a garage in the Peckwater Estate on Tuesday morning.


Looking to get your child interested in a sport? Allianz Park, home to rugby union team Saracens, welcomes people of all ages to join their family of supporters and discover how their core values Honesty, Discipline, Humility and Work Rate underpin everything they do off and on the pitch.

As part of a major refurb, the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale has renamed its three new-look function rooms to reflect the geography and rich history of the area. The largest, perfect for weddings and large meetings, is named after a Hampstead subterranean river, The Westbourne.

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now