Sidney John Stoner was born on the 13th of December 1896 in Brighton. He died in 1968 also in Brighton at the age of 71. His regiment was the Royal Sussex Regiment [13th Battalion] 3rd Southdowners. His rank was private and his service number was 4101.
Sidney Stoner’s direct forebears lived and grew-up around the Burgess Hill area of Sussex. There is a solid connection to the village of Keymer – just east of Hassocks – where Sidney’s great-grandfather, James Stoner, and his family lived at the time of the 1871 census.
They resided in Oldland Cottage which was very near to Oldland Mill [both now Grade II-listed]. James and his two sons – James [jnr.] and Henry worked as labourers, though whether they were employees of the nearby mill is not stated. Ann – James’s wife was a laundress. Their two daughters – Sarah & Charity were still at school. Also present at Oldland Cottage was 2-year-old George Stoner – Sidney’s dad – who was either staying with, or being looked after by his grandparents on the day of the Census. There is no mention of George’s parents until the 1881 census.
By 1881 George was aged 12, at school, and living with his immediate family at 3 Norway Cottages in Keymer. His father was working as a gardener whilst his mother, Dinah – who was now 40 years-old and five years George’s senior, was entered on the census as ‘gardeners wife’. Whilst George was the eldest child, there were three other sons [William aged 7, James aged 3 and Henry aged one] and one daughter [Sarah aged 9]
In the 1891 Census Sidney’s dad, George, now aged 22, was employed as one of two grooms at The Grange in London Road, Patcham – being recorded as ‘dwelling in the Grooms Stables’. In the main house lived Henry Young – a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, along with a cook and a housemaid. A gardener and his family inhabited The Grange Lodge. Elsewhere, the main body of the Stoner family were still in Keymer – though they had now moved to Junction Road. Head-of-the-household, William, was now marked down as a widower. Dinah Stoner had died in 1885 aged 44 – having produced a third daughter, Minnie, two years previously. All working-age members of the family were employed as servants or gardeners.
George Stoner’s future wife [Sidney’s mother], Elizabeth Soloman was, at this time, aged 25 and working as a cook & domestic servant to William Dickinson [1825-1907] and his family at Woodside in Keymer. Dickinson was a retired Major-General who had served with distinction with the Royal Engineers. His own son – Major William Egerton de Brissac Dickinson – would die of wounds received at Flanders in 1918 whilst serving with the Royal Field Artillery.
George Stoner & Elizabeth Soloman married in 1894. Their first son, William, was born the next year – and Sidney was born a year later in 1896.
In 1901, 4 year-old Sidney was living at 14, Crown Gardens, Brighton with his father, George, his mother, Elizabeth, and his 6 year-old brother, William. George was working as a domestic coachman – the forerunner of a chauffeur.
Ten years later George, now forty-two years-old, was still working as a coachman. He was also a widower – Elizabeth having died in 1905 at the age of thirty-nine. Three years earlier she had given birth to a third son, Harry, who was now at school. Meanwhile, William  and Sidney  were both employed as porters – William, at a drapers [Sidney’s ‘porter-ing’ employment is unspecified].
The family had now moved east to the Hanover area, and the four of them were living as sole-residents of 18, Montreal Street.
The nineteen year-old Sidney Stoner enlisted and was attested as a Private [service number: 4101] with the Royal Sussex Regiment – 3rd Southdowners in Bexhill on January 5th 1915. The following day he was posted to the 13th Battalion. But it wasn’t until March 3rd 1916 that he joined the British Expeditionary Force in France where he served until the Battle of Boer’s Head. He was posted home the day after the battle – on July 2nd 1916.
There is medical evidence to suggest that his right arm had to be amputated [also dated 2nd July 1916]. He was listed as ‘wounded’ – along with many others – in the Brighton Argus on Thursday 20th July 1916. On 15th November 1916 Sidney received his Discharge and Pension Claim at Queen Mary’s Convalescent Hospital, Roehampton [also known as the Human Repair Factory – for the rehabilitation of Amputees]. It is recorded that he would also receive a pension of 25/- for 2 [years] and thereafter 14/- for life. To help him into his post-combatant life.
.Sidney was registered as permanently unfit for duty on the following day – 16th November 1916 – and he was officially discharged as ’no longer physically fit for war service’ on 6th December 1916. Having been deemed ‘Permanently unfit’, Sidney was given £1 advance and a suit of plain clothes. He was awarded his War Badge & Certificate [no.177506] in respect of service on 22nd May 1917. This was registered to the family address at 18 Montreal Rd. He was later decorated with a British War & Victory Medal.10/5/17 His personal effects were returned to him on May 10th 1917. This consisted of a packet of letters and photographs which were, presumably, ‘lost’ on the ‘front’.
By the 1939 Register, there was an unmarried Sidney J Stoner living at 30 Elder Row, Brighton. It appears that he was lodging with Albert & Mabel Pratt, a postman and housewife respectively – and their 14 year-old son Albert, who was working as a messenger boy at an electrical engineering works. Sidney was working as a Drapers Warehouse Porter.
‘Stoner’ is a name that is extremely prevalent around the Brighton area – as is ‘Sidney’. Therefore the timeline of this particular ‘Sidney Stoner’ is difficult to pin down. There are many possible leads to his post-war life, but none – apart from the 1939 Register – that can be considered definite.
I have only recorded what is definitely known. There were quite a number of ‘S Stoner’s’ who are recorded as living in the Brighton & Hove area during the time-frame. Without a great deal of time and access to further resources, it is difficult to say what his life became post-war.