Queen’s South Africa Medal, 5 bars, Cape Colony, Paardeberg, Driefontein, Johannesburg, Diamond Hill, Private Sydney Louis Carter, Royal Marines, HMS Monarch.
Sydney Louis Carter, a Londoner who had joined the Royal Marines Light Infantry at the young age of 18, saw significant service ashore with the Naval Brigade of HMS Monarch during the Boer War, earning his rare combination of 5 bars to the medal.
Following the war he was demobilised, moving with his wife to Bodmin, Cornwall, where he was “well known and highly respected by the townspeople of Bodmin”, for a number of years he had the difficult job as an Attendant to the Insane at County Cornwall Lunatic Asylum.
With the outbreak of WW1, he wasted no time in rejoining the Colours “at once” and already arrived for service in France with the Royal Garrison Artillery on 17th September 1914 with the 2nd Siege Battery, a familiar duty from his old days in the Boer War manning the ship’s guns which were detached for shore service.
His Commanding Officers greatest regret was that Sydney never received his “decoration for which he was recommended for about May 1915.”
He said to have been beloved by his officers and fellow soldiers, one morning on 21st May 1917, he met his death instantly when he was struck by a shell.
Officially impressed in large Naval style: “10411 Pte S.L. Carter, R.M, H.M.S Monarch”
All bars confirmed on the medal roll, 1 of only 9 men from this ship to earn this combination of clasps. 18 Men from the ship earned 5 bars to their QSA.
There was about 1091 medals issued to HMS Monarch, 812 without bars, with the Naval Brigade men earning 279 medals with multiple combinations of clasps up to 8.
His death announced in a letter from his CO, Major H.J. Burke, R.G.A., Cornish Guardian 8th June 1917:
“THE LATE GUNNER CARTER, R.G.A.
AN OFFICER’S APPRECIATION
Major H.J. Burke, of the R.G.A. has written Mrs Carter, of 4, St Leonards, Bodmin, giving details of the death of her husband, Gunner S.L. Carter, R.G.A., a brief announcement of whose death we gave last week.
Major Burke Says: ‘It is with the greatest sorrow I am writing to offer you my sympathy at the death of your gallant husband. He was killed by a shell very early yesterday morning (May 21st), and perhaps it will be some slight consolation to you to know that he can have suffered no pain at all.
He was buried yesterday morning by the Chaplain of our group in the British Cemetery near Heniu sur Cojeul.
I have known your husband for some considerable time now, and he was loved and respected by all the officers, by no one more than myself who have known him the longest.
It has always been a great disappointment to me that your husband never received a decoration for which he was recommended for about May 1915.
I feel his loss very keenly, for I always regarded him as a friend of mine, and believe me you are not alone in your sorrow.
I know that I can say little which will lessen your great grief, but perhaps it will help for you to know that you are not alone in that grief.
I will end now by offering you my deepest sympathy, and if there is anything else I can do or that you would like to know please write to me.’
Gunner Carter served throughout the Boer War, receiving a medal and 5 bars. At the outbreak of the present war he was working at the Asylum as an attendant, but rejoined the Colours at once, and and been in France for well over 2 years. He was well known and highly respected by the townspeople of Bodmin.”
Sydney Louis Carter was born on 15th April 1880 in Bermondsey, London.
Following his 18th Birthday, having worked as a Labourer, he attested for service at London for the Royal Marines, taken in at the Recruiting Depot Walmer on 8th August 1898.
Following his discharge on 21st December 1903 as his service were no longer required.
The 1911 Census shows he had moved to Bodmin, Cornwall, where he was employed as a “Attendant on Insane” at the Cornwall County Lunatic Asylum.
An In Memoriam, Cornish Guardian, 24th May 1918:
“CARTER – In loving memory of a dear Brother-inlaw, Gunner S.L. Carter, killed in action, May 21st, 1917, after 2 years 8 months active service.
Also my dear young brother, Arthur, killed in action, July 17th, 1916.
Ever Fondly and proudly remembered by their sister Hilda, Just two of England’s many heroes.
CARTER – In loving memory of my dear husband S.L. Carter, killed in action, 21st of May 1917. Also his loving father and mother in law, T and G Stephens, and brothers and sisters-in-law.
That awful day, that sudden shock, That runs the sword within my heart.”