Topic: Sydney Reuben Ford

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Sydney Ford (Service no. 24/147) was a World War One soldier with links to New Brighton

 Image from Reuben Ford was born in Papanui, Christchurch on the 4th June 1889 and was baptised at St. Paul’s Anglican Church on the 4th August of the same year. He was one of 12 children born to Annie and Alfred Ford, and was their oldest son. His father was a coach painter for most of his life. They lived for w awhile at 92 George Street, New Brighton. Sydney went to New Brighton School, and had passed the Fourth Educational Standard. He had a fair complexion, blue eyes and was 5 feet 9 ½ inches tall (1.76m) when he signed up.

In 1911, Sydney was living at Brougham Street in Westport and was working as a fireman for New Zealand Railways. It would have been his job to tend the fire of a steam engine train. By 1914 he had moved down the coast to Greymouth where he continued to work as a fireman for the railways. His last residence in Greymouth before he enlisted was The Duke of Edinburgh Hotel.

Sydney enlisted on 29th May, 1915. On the evening before his departure, it’s possible he would have attended a farewell event at the Drill Hall. The Mayor was in attendance and at the conclusion of the evening each recruit was presented with a parting gift from the ladies of Greymouth. By 8.40am the following morning he was on the express train to Christchurch, en route to Trentham training camp to join the 'A' Company 2nd Battalion, as a Rifleman.

On the 9th October 1915 his battalion sailed from Wellington to Suez, Egypt and arrived on the 18th November. It was during these early days in Egypt that Sydney found himself ‘Confined to Barracks’ - 5 days for ‘losing equipment through negligence’. 

Initially they went on to Ismailia and 3 months later had made their way to Alexandria where on the 6th April 1916, they boarded a ship for France. By late July Sydney had fallen ill and was admitted to the No.3 NZ Field Ambulance. He re-joined his unit 2 weeks later.

On the 11th August 1917 Sydney Reuben Ford was listed as ‘Killed in Action – in the field, France or Belgium’. His name is listed on the Messines Ridge (NZ) Memorial to the Missing, located in Belgium. The cemetery commemorates more than 800 New Zealanders who died in or near Messines 1917 – 1918 and have no known grave. He was only 28 years old.

Sydney’s name is on the St. Enoch’s Presbyterian Church, New Brighton, Roll of Honour board in the New Brighton and Districts Museum. He was also listed on the New Brighton  School Roll of Honour. He was posthumously awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal.


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Images sourced from New Zealand War Graves Project -

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Sydney Reuben Ford

First Names:Sydney Reuben
Last Name:Ford
Place of Birth:Papanui, Christchurch