Saturday, November 15, 2014

MT/322426 Private Sidney Best, Army Service Corps

Sidney Best was born in Hamsey, Sussex but living in Chailey when he attested with the Army Service Corps under the Derby Scheme on 4th December 1915.  He gave his address as the 5 Bells, Chailey, his occupation as innkeeper and his age as 39 years and 11 months. Fanny Best his wife, is noted as his next of kin.  He had married her in 1901 and the couple had two daughters: Mabel Agnes Smith (born 17th September 1905 at Cuckfield) and Mildred Edith Smith (born 28th January 1914 at Lewes). 

Sidney was posted to the Army Service Corps on 18th May 1917 and joined the Motor Transport Reserve Depot at Grove Park, London the following day.  He was given the number MT/322426.  By this stage he appears to have changed professions as documents from this date note his trade as cab and motor proprietor. 

He qualified as a Heavy Lorry Driver on 13th April 1918 and exactly one week later, embarked at Southampton aboard the Queen Alexandra.  He arrived at Havre the following day and was attached to Number 1076 MT Company. 

On 23rd May 1918 he transferred to 19th Corps Troops MT Coy and he was still serving with this company when he was demobilised on 14th March 1919.  A medical examination five weeks earlier in France noted his address as Heatherwood, North Common, Chailey.

During his time in France, Sidney was employed as a Ford Car Driver and Army Form W.3226 noted that he showed aptitude for employment in civil life as a car driver. 

Back in Blighty, Chailey Parish Magazine had listed Sidney amongst a number of specially attested men in its March 1916 issue.  In July 1917, Best, Pte S, ASC MT appeared in the roll of men serving their King and Country and this detail was repeated continuously up to and including the final roll call in July 1919.  On 11th June 1917 he also got a mention in The Times: 

Mr Best, a cab proprietor of Chailey, Sussex, having joined the Army, Mrs Jellicoe, wife of the Reverend Thomas Harry Lee Jellicoe, rector of Chailey, and cousin of Admiral Jellicoe, has volunteered to act as driver for Mrs Best while her husband is away. One of her first “fares” was Mrs Coplestone [sic], wife of the late Bishop of Calcutta. 

Mrs Copleston was the mother of Reginald Trench Copleston who also served during the First World War. 

Chailey resident Reg Philpott remembers that Sidney Best continued his taxi cab business in Chailey until well after the war had ended.

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