Bring History to Life – Private Sydney ‘Togo’ Bolesworth DCM (1889-1917)


On the memorial to men who died in the First & Second World Wars in Albert Rd Church are 3 men with the surname Bolesworth. They are Private Sydney ‘Togo’ Bolesworth DCM, Corporal William Bolesworth and Lance-Corporal James Bolesworth who lost their lives during the First World War.

They lived at 1 Druid St where the Druid St car park is now. Their Mum was a Methodist and their Father a Catholic, so they were schooled at St Peters.

In December 1905 Sydney decided to join the army (Army Number: 7832) and served at Leicester and Colchester before being posted to the 2nd battalion Leicestershire Regiment in India He was a fine boxer and probably the best the Regiment ever had in the welterweight class, he won the All India title at Madras. He then won the all India army boxing cup at Poona in India, as a middleweight. He returned home and joined the army reserve, he boxed a number of contests across the Midlands gaining a fearsome reputation. It was around this time that he got the nickname ‘Togo’, which stayed with him for the rest of his life.

With the outbreak of the First World War, Togo was recalled to the Colours, he re-joined the Army as a Lance-Corporal but would lose the rank due to a disciplinary. He was sent to France with the 1st Battalion Leicestershire Regiment. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and Croix de Guerre for conspicuous gallantry. He was in charge of a picket, and was wounded by a shell in both legs and severely bruised by falling timber. He stuck to his post until relieved and had the presence of mind to deliver a report on the situation to his commanding officer before receiving medical help.

Togo returned to the Western Front and joined 9th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment in Belgium. Employed as a sniper, he quickly re-established himself once more as a man whom his officers could rely upon in any situation. As with the 1st Battalion, he refused the offer of a stripe or stripes, despite the positions of responsibility which he often held.

1st October 1917 During the early part of the morning near Polygon Wood near Ypres, in Belgium the 9th Battalion Togo and a fellow soldier, Private Joe Paul, were designated battalion snipers, and had crawled into a shell-hole in front of the British lines in order to give them a better view over the German positions. They had taken a few shots at the enemy when the German counter-attack erupted before them. Paul was hit in the leg, but managed to escape, while Togo was shot dead. Due to his body last seen in a muddy shell-hole and his remains were not recovered, he is named on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium. The Tyne Cot Memorial is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgium.

Fred Hartshorn from a talk given by Greg Drozdz


By Fred Hartshorn

Retired Engineer but now am a Therapeutic Counselor and charity volunteer. Ex DJ. MBACP, BSc(Hon), DipComp, DipCoun. Interested in books, computing, family and local history. Budding artist. and Musician.

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