Malvern College First World War Casualty

2nd Lieut Sidney Hannaford Hellyer

Photo of Sidney Hannaford Hellyer
House and time at Malvern: No 5, 1904 - 1906.

Regiment: East Yorkshire Regt.
Died: 08 May 1915 aged 26 in United Kingdom. Died of wounds at Boulogne.
Cemetery: St Mary's Brixham SE corner

Son of Charles and Jane Elizabeth Hellver, of "Wolborough," Brixham. Born at Hull in 1889.
Lower IV—Lower Modern I.
Partner in Hellyer's Steam Fishing Co.
Great War, 2nd Lieutenant 4th East Yorks Regt. 1914.
4th Bn. East Yorkshire Regiment.

He was a partner in the firm of Hellyer's Steam Fishing Company, Hull. He joined the Territorial Force at the outbreak of the war, and received his commission in the 4th Bn. East Yorkshire Regiment (T.F.) in September.

Extracts from letter published in De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour:
As soon as I arrived back our battalion went into action in the open (not in trenches) against a section of the enemy who were occupying a village on a ridge and who were backed by excellent artillery — by this time I was tired. The 4th East Yorks went into action at about 4 o’clock on that afternoon (Saturday, 24 April, 1915) for the first time in the history of the battalion, and a bloody battle it was.

We advanced in artillery formation across half a mile of open country and under a very heavy bombardment both of shrapnel and high explosive shells, and many men fell - fell absolutely heroically, there is no other word for it. I would never have believed that hardened men would have marched on under that bombardment, and these men,
already very tired and two nights sleepless, having carried a load weighing (60-70 lbs. since we left Newcastle, and hardly having their boots off since that time, saw battle for the first time as if they were just going to the barber's for a shave.

Three times within 20 minutes a shell struck the ground near the men I have the honour to lead, once within 10 yards, and when the high explosive shells strike they dive into the earth and the end of the world seems to come. They blow a hole just about the size of the pond at the back field at Lamwath, and the contents of the hole are blown right up into the skies, much higher than a trawler’s mast, so high that one has to lie on one's face what seems like 20 seconds until all the earth and fragments have fallen. When one strikes near as that one is covered with earth, so that there is a little difficulty in rising under the weight of it. The noise deafens and slightly stuns one.

One shell blew us down in a body without killing one of us. This bombardment went on incessantly, not a shell now and then, but all the time shells bursting, sometimes two or three coming near the same spot at once. After the third time we were covered with earth, and a man of mine shouted to me: ‘If these B---s don’t ring the bell soon we’ll go and give them their money back’. After advancing 20 minutes thus the high explosive shells ceased, and we went into the zone of the rifle and machine-gun fire, still in daylight and over open fallow land. They never worried a bit, never faltered, never even laid down to the shrapnel a moment longer than was essential; when they heard the shriek of a coming shell just walked determinedly on into the jaws of it. Col. Shaw was shot dead at about this stage. My Captain, B. Farrel, was shot through the heart a minute or two after.
Major Thielmann met instant death, and the man who went to help him was shot as he rose to do it. When we had advanced in rushes sufficiently near to the village, bayonets were fixed, and the Germans went back from the village without waiting for the assault. It was then dusk. We collected our men, gathered up and carried back what poor fellows we could, and marched the remainder back to some trenches about 500 yards in rear, leaving the position to be occupied by other troops, who dug themselves in. We laid down in some shallow trenches in a wood in the rain that night too tired to eat…

At 11 p.m. (Sunday night - 25th April) we were ordered to come out of the trenches and march back to a rest camp five miles in rear, and a terrible march it was. The road was swept with shrapnel for three of the miles. The villages which in times of peace had been on it were mere broken skeletons of their former selves. Many of the houses were in flames. The road had great shell holes in it, which parties of men were filling in with the broken houses in order to make it passable for transport, which crossed it at the gallop. Capt. Morrill, at about this stage, I think, got three shrapnel holes in one leg. Dead horses, broken wagons, mules, and occasionally men, strewed the road throughout its length, and the smell of them was sickening. The men at this stage were so tired that every time we got into the ditches for a rest we had difficulty in waking them to move on again, even in the roar of the shell bursts; many were being helped along by their pals.

At 1am this morning (Monday, 26 April) we arrived at this camp for our well-earned rest. We walked into our huts, put our heads on our packs, and fell asleep with the roar of the battle still going on, and our artillery, part of which has a position near here, roaring away for all it was worth. I woke 10 hours after-wards stiff and hungry, and with a thirst I haven’t yet succeeded in quenching, in spite of the eight pint-mugs of tea I have drunk at intervals to-day.”

Two days later, on 28 April, his platoon had orders to entrench west of Gedde's detachment, between the canal and the Filkem road. He was encouraging his men to dig themselves into the ground when a shell fell in their midst, killing four outright and wounding eight, including 2nd Lieut. Hellyer, who died in consequence of his wounds at No. 7 Stationary Hospital, Boulogne.

The Times, May 15th :—
"A Sergeant in A Company of the 4th East Yorkshire Regiment, writing to a friend at Hull, gives the following description of how Lieutenant Hellyer received the wounds from which he died: 'Just as we reached our new position and were digging ourselves in, a shrapnel shell burst right in the middle of our company, killing four of us outright and wounding eight, including Mr. Sydney, who had his arm blown off, the other arm broke in two places, and several other wounds in other parts of his body. But, wounded as he was, he would not let anyone touch him until all the others had been attended to. I have never met a braver man in my life, and our platoon owe their lives to him, time and time again, by the way he handled them.' "