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  • Christina Drummond

Lieutenant Sydney Dennis Connell, 1st Battalion, the Manchester Regiment

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1914, Lieutenant Sydney Dennis Connell, 1st Battalion, the Manchester Regiment, was killed as he returned from a successful night-raid near Festubert on the Western Front.

The second son of a major in the Royal Horse Artillery, he was educated at Queen Elizabeth’s School in Cranbrook, where he excelled at football and cricket. He became a sergeant in the Officers’ Training Corps in 1911, and went on to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. He received his commission in January of 1914, joined his battalion in India, and then went to France at the outbreak of the Great War as part of the British Expeditionary Force.

On the day of Lieutenant Connell’s death he set out on a night attack to destroy a German sap-head. The Adjutant of his battalion gave this account: “Lieutenant Connell was killed just north-east of the cross roads at La Quinque Rue (about one mile north-east of Festubert), having most gallantly attacked a sap-head. The sap-head was a double one, and came up to 20 to 25 feet from our fire trench. He went out that night with 20 men, he going with 10 men to one head, and a colour-sergeant with 10 men to the other. They all got in and found the Germans at work and killed 10 of them, two or three escaping down the communicating trench. They then went down the communicating trench, and when coming back along it found that more Germans had been sleeping in dug-outs at the side. These they also killed as they returned, and it is estimated that they accounted for over 40 altogether. When on the way back, the Germans opened a machine gun on the party he was leading. He and five men were killed and three wounded. We were most awfully cut up about it."

Lieutenant Connell was mentioned in Sir John French's Despatch of the 14th of.January, 1915. He has no known grave and is named on the Le Touret Memorial , near Richebourg-l'Avoué, Pas-de-Calais in France.

Sydney, born in India during his father’s service there, was 20 years old.

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