Brothers in Arms

There are many instances of family members serving together in the Cambridgeshire Regiment, both among the officers and other ranks.

One example is that of the two sons of prominent Cambridge businessman and councillor, William Sindall and his wife Henzell.

Their eldest son William Thomas Sindall, was born in 1886 and attended Bedford Grammar School where he served in the Cadet company. Commissioned into the Cambridgeshire Regiment in September 1909, he was posted to C Company, one of the four pre-war Cambridge companies.

William was soon appointed battalion transport officer and moved to A Company at the end of 1910. Having married in 1910 to Edith Beatie Hooper, the 1911 census lists him as a 25-year-old master builder (architect) in his father’s business, and living at Newnham, Cambridge. He was promoted to Lieutenant in 1911 and given command of A Company that summer, being promoted Captain in 1913.

His younger brother Richard Ernest Sindall was born in 1889, and attended the Perse School at Cambridge. Commissioned in the Cambrideshires in October 1908, he was posted to D Company. He is listed in the 1911 census as a builder and contractor living with his parents in Newnham. In the same year he was given command of D Company and promoted Captain in 1913. Their parents later moved to The Elms at Great Shelford.

When war was declared, both brothers volunteered to serve overseas with the Cambridgeshire Regiment and after the eight companies were merged into four in January 1915, William was commanding A (Cambridge) Company and Richard commanding D (March and Ely) Company. Both went overseas with the regiment on February 14th 1915, sailing from Southampton to Le Havre.

William’s active service lasted little more than a month, being invalided from Ypres to England on March 29th, 1915, with appendicitis. He was later posted to the regiment’s 3/1st Battalion, promoted Major in 1916 and posted to the 4/1st Battalion, and seconded to the Labour Corps at the end of 1917.

After the war he returned to the family building business, but died on May 28th, 1923, aged 37, at Newnham.

Richard’s front line service lasted longer, with his command being switched to C Company after its heavy losses of officers during May 1915. After the battalion moved from the Ypres area to the Armentieres sector at the end of May, Richard was wounded on June 26th. During the day the Germans were shelling a farm behind the British line. As he walked past a dugout containing men of the battalion’s machine gun section, it was hit by a shell that fell short and Richard received 15 wounds to his back and legs. He was taken to hospital at Bailleul, but died of wounds on July 1st, 1915, aged 26, and was buried at Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension. He is named on the war memorials at Great Shelford, Cambridge St Mark’s and St Matthew the Less, and the Perse School.

The same shell that wounded Richard killed L/Cpl Frank Marking, of Saffron Walden and wounded Pte George Cook, of Wisbech, and Pte Sid Bond, of Comberton, all members of the machine gun section. Marking is buried at Houplines Communal Cemetery. Cook, who sustained an eye wound, was sent to England and died of scarlet fever on September 14th, 1915, being buried at Wisbech.

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Richard (left) and William (right) before going to France in 1915.

William (left) and Richard (right) pre-war.

Part of a letter sent by several Cambs soldiers from Shelford to Richard's parents:

In this hour of your sad bereavement we, the Shelford soldiers, ask you to accept our sincere sympathy at the loss you have sustained in the death of your son, Captain R.E. Sindall. We have lost in him not only a Captain whom we all respected and honoured, but a friend we all trusted. When this terrible war is over many things will be forgotten, but the name of your son will be endeared to us for ever.

This site went live on the 14th February 2015 to mark  100 years since the 1/1st Cambs went off to war.


Copyright 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 by Felix Jackson. The information and images on this site should not be reproduced without prior permission.