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Driver Sydney Dulling
822276 Royal Field Artillery

      Sydney Herbert Dulling was born in 1896, the son of Albert Dulling and Emily Keenor who had been married on October 12th 1892, and who were living in Centre House, the High Street. The children were Clara Camilla (1893), Frederick H.J. (1895), Sydney Herbert (1896) and Albert (1898). Sadly, Emily died in 1910. The 1911 census records Albert now 47 and a widower living now in Barnstaple Street. For some reason Sydney was elsewhere on census night, and his whereabouts have not yet been traced. Young Albert was 13, while a fifth child, Harold now aged 10 had been born in 1901.

      Sydney’s father, Albert, (17 in 1881) began life as a tailor, following the example of his own father, James Dulling, who was both a draper and tailor. Albert had an elder brother Henry (24 in 1881) who also became a tailor, and the two brothers played a very important role in the life of Winkleigh. Besides tailoring, Albert Dulling ran the large draper’s shop in the Square and his name often appears in local Winkleigh records. He supplied, for example, all the needlework materials required at Winkleigh School.       Sydney Dulling and his brother Frederick both enlisted together by October 1914, their names proudly recorded in the lists published in the Ashreigney Deanery Magazine as volunteering together for the Army Service Corps. Their army numbers were consecutive. The website ‘The Long Long Trail’ supplies us with an the introduction to the Army Service Corps:

      The ASC, Ally Sloper's Cavalry were the unsung heroes of the British army in the Great War - Soldiers cannot fight without food, equipment and ammunition. In the Great War, the vast majority of this tonnage, supplying a vast army on many fronts, was supplied from Britain. Using horsed and motor vehicles, railways and waterways, the ASC performed prodigious feats of logistics and were one of the great strengths of organisation by which the war was won.

      The ASC was organised into Companies, each fulfilling a specific role. Some were under orders of or attached to the Divisions of the army; the rest were under direct orders of the higher formations of Corps, Army or the GHQ of the army in each theatre of war.      

• Base Depots
• Horse Transport Companies (including Companies in Divisional Trains,    Reserve Parks and Small Arms Ammunition (SAA) Trains)
• Mechanical Transport Companies (including Companies in Divisional
  Supply Columns and Ammunition Parks, Companies attached to the
   heavy artillery, Omnibus Companies, Motor Ambulance Convoys,
   Bridging and Pontoon units and Workshops)
• The Army Remounts Service (Companies involved in the provision of
• The ASC Labour Companies
      We do not know, of course, into which branch of the A.S.C. the two brothers were placed. However, it appears that they were transferred to the Royal Field Artillery, where they served as Drivers. Each 18lb field gun was drawn by 6 horses, with a driver to each pair. The units of the Regular Army in 1914 contained a mixture of serving regulars, recalled army reservists who had also completed their five years of regular service, and from October 1914 onwards supplemented by new wartime recruits. Territorial and new army units were under the command of their own divisions.

      The RFA was divided into Brigades, the basic tactical unit, usually consisting of 4 Batteries and Brigade Headquarters, with a total establishment of about 770 men and 23 officers. Details given in the website ‘The Long Trail’ show that the Brigade was usually commanded by an officer with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. Brigade HQ also had two other officers : a Captain or Lieutenant filled the role of Adjutant (in charge of administration); similarly a Captain or Lieutenant was the Orderly Officer (responsible for stores and transport); an officer of the Royal Army Medical Corps was attached, as was an officer of the Veterinary Corps. Brigade HQ also included a Sergeant-Major plus two Corporals, two Bombardiers, nine Drivers, 7 Gunners, a Clerk, and aTrumpeter. These filled roles as signallers, telephonsists and assisted with range-taking duties. A Corporal and 3 privates of the Royal Army Medical Corps were attached for water duties; 8 Gunners acted as Officers Batmen (personal servants), and 2 as Orderlies for the Medical Officer. The Brigade HQ was in command of 3 Batteries and an Ammunition Column.

      Usually lettered A to D, each of the Batteries numbered 198 heads at full establishment. Each was commanded by a Major or Captain, with a Captain as Second-in-Command, and 3 Lieutenants or Second-Lieutenants in charge of 2-gun sections. Battery establishment also included a Battery Sergeant-Major , a Battery Quartermaster Sergeant , a Farrier-Sergeant, 4 Shoeing Smiths (of which 1 would be a Corporal), 2 Saddlers, 2 Wheelers, 2 Trumpeters, 7 Sergeants, 7 Corporals, 11 Bombardiers, 75 Gunners, 70 Drivers and 10 Gunners acting as Batmen.

      Sadly, Sydney’s personal military records were destroyed in the London blitz, but we have his medal card which carries interesting information. Together with his brother Frederick, he was awarded only the usual Victory and British medals, which shows that he did not serve abroad in a theatre of war by the end of 1915. He was certainly eligible (18 when he enlisted), and in the normal way he would certainly have been serving in France or Belgium (or even Gallipoli) by then. On the other hand, unlike his brother who was awarded the rare Silver War Badge, (instituted in 1918 and awarded to men who were honourably discharged, usually because they were unfit because of serious illness or wounded), Sydney’s medal record card carries 2 numbers, which shows that at some time he was probably posted to a new unit of the RFA. With no military records available we can go no further in our search, unless contacted, as we hope, by any present family descendents.

      After the war both brothers moved to Plymouth. Frederick he earned his living as a salesman, but we have no knowledge of Sydney’s trade or profession. There is an item in the ‘Western Morning News’ on 19th December 1934 which shows that Sydney made a contribution of 1/- to the Mayor of Plymouth’s fund, in conjunction with the ‘Western Morning News’ for providing Christmas Stockings to 5000 needy children in the city.

      Records show that in 1924 he married Eva R. Thomas, then aged 36, the daughter of an assistant grocer, living in Plymouth. In the 1911 census Eva is recorded as living at home and employed in a children’s’ garment factory.

      Sydney lived to a good age, dying in Plymouth in 1986, aged 90.

16 July 2011



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