Private Ernest Sykes
4 April 1885
(Formerly West Riding of Yorkshire)
3 August 1949 (aged 64)
Lockwood, West Yorkshire
Woodfield Cemetery, Lockwood
Years of service
Victoria Cross awarded for:
For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty ( near Arras, France ) when his battalion in attack was held up about 350 yards in advance of our lines by intense fire from front and flank, and suffered heavy casualties. Private Sykes, despite this heavy fire, went forward and brought back four wounded, he made a fifth journey and remained out under conditions which appeared to be certain death, until he had bandaged all those who were too badly wounded to be moved. These gallant actions, performed under incessant machine gun and rifle fire, showed an utter contempt of danger.
His investiture took place at the Palace on 21 July 1917, when King George V decorated him with the Victoria Cross.
Their continued story:
Ernest was demobilised on 26 May 1918 due to sickness and the long-term effects of his wound sustained at Gallipoli. He also received the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal. Stalybridge must be the only town to have built its War Memorial in the form of a bridgehead, the structure was unveiled on 6 November 1921 and Ernest Sykes laid the first wreath.
After the war he returned to the railways, working in the Engineering Department of the LNWR before becoming a guard. As a railwayman Ernest was honoured by having a name plaque being placed on multiple engines, the first being an L&NWR locomotive No 2035, built in March 1920, was given the name “Private E. Sykes V.C.” in February 1922. Actually three successive locomotives bore nameplates lettered PRIVATE E. SYKES V.C. – No. 2035 from 1922 to 1926, then No. 6015 from 1926 to 1933; both were the same type of engine. From 1933 a new and different type of engine, No. 5537, was so named until it was scrapped in 1962. A nameplate from 5537 is at Alnwick Castle.
During the Second World War Ernest served in the Home Guard, 25th (West Riding) Battalion. He was then living in Lockwood, near Huddersfield, where he died on 3 August 1949, aged 64 years, from the long-term effects of his wound sustained at Gallipoli. He was buried on 6 August 1949 in Section F, Grave 227 at Lockwood Cemetery, Meltham.
The Victoria Cross awarded to Ernest Sykes and a memorial can be found at the Regimental Museum of the Northumberland Fusiliers, Alnwick Castle, Northumberland and an LMS locomotive was named after him.
As a further tribute to Private Ernest Sykes V.C Hornby released a replica model locomotive in 1991 – OO GAUGE R578 ‘PRIVATE E.SYKES VC’ BR GREEN PATRIOT LOCOMOTIVE.
PRIVATE ERNEST SYKES V.C - GALLERY
TRAIN - GALLERY
100th YEAR ANNIVERSARY PAMPHLET
PLAQUE AWARD VIDEO
A plaque, in honour of Pte Ernest Sykes has been unveiled at Mossley Railway station, where he worked as a guardsman after the war.
PATHE GAZETTE VIDEO
This video is from 1920 and shows George V hosting an event for 300 Victoria Cross winners.