A poignant letter from Henman's wife published in the North China Herald shortly after his death. The BWWA was the British Woman's War Association in Shanghai. They supported the war effort as best they could which included knitting socks for the troops at the front.
Henman's grave at Bard Cottage Cemetery near Ypres, Flanders.
For much of the First World war, the village of Boesinghe (now Boezinge) directly faced the German line across the Yser canal. Bard Cottage was a house a little set back from the line, close to a bridge called Bard's Causeway, and the cemetery was made nearby in a sheltered position under a high bank.
Burials were made between June 1915 and October 1918 and they reflect the presence of the 49th (West Riding), the 38th (Welsh) and other infantry divisions in the northern sectors of the Ypres Salient, as well as the advance of artillery to the area in the autumn of 1917.
There are now 1,639 Commonwealth casualties of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 39 of the burials are unidentified but special memorials commemorate three casualties known to be buried among them. Sourced from the CWGC website.
Captain Sydney Henman died on a Flanders field on 10 August 1917. He played his first rugby game for Shanghai in January 1911 and played at least thirty more games before his last appearance in the January 1914 interport fixture against Tientsin, his first such cap.
Born in Aston, Birmingham in January 1886 (not 1887 as noted in his obituary), after attending King Edward’s school (at the same time as J R R Tolkien who also served in the Great War) he came to Shanghai aged twenty-one in 1909, joining the British-American Tobacco Company as an accountant. Like many of his contemporaries he played cricket and was a member of the SVC.
He left a wife, Dorothy, whom he had married in April 1915 and a son. He traveled to France in the spring of 1916.
While at the front Lieutenant Henman wrote home describing the professional composition of his battery of more than fifty men. They were from the newly trained ‘Kitcheners’ Army’. In his battery he had six first league professional footballers, a Scottish international, a chemist, three motor mechanics, two chauffeurs, two gardeners, an electrical engineer, a cabinet maker, a cotton spinner, a school master, a draughtsman, a proof reader and a schoolboy. The latter had an official age of 19 but Henman said that his ‘actual age [was] not a day more than 16, a baby-faced, blue-eyed boy, with the heart of a lion.’
The announcement of Henman's death published in the North China Herald on 6 October 1917
Sydney Henman (1887 - 1917)