Private Sydney Saunders

Learn more about Private Sydney Saunders, a patient treated at Balgowan Voluntary Aid Detachment hospital.

Project volunteer Jeff Crawford

Black and white portrait photograph showing Sydney with another soldier.
Courtesy of Louise Moralee

Sydney Saunders

Sydney Obed Saunders was born in 1893 in Canterbury, Kent.

In the 1911 census, Sydney was living with his family in Ireland and working as a clerk.

Military service

Sydney followed in the footsteps of his father who had served as a musician in the army. He initially served in the 8th Hussars as a Private where he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. He moved to the 13th Middlesex Regiment and finally to the Royal West Kent’s where he held the rank of Lieutenant.


Little information is known about the circumstances which led to Sydney being treated at Balgowan, though it was likely he was treated there during 1916.


Lieutenant Saunders was awarded the 1914/15 star, the British War medal and the Victory Medal

After the war

After the war, Sydney married Brita Elizabeth Bakewell in 1920 in Dover. After their marriage they lived at 13 Foxgrove Road in Beckenham. Their first son Peter was born in 1921. On 2nd June 1922 Sydney, Brita and Peter travelled to South Africa. In 1925 Sydney and Brita had a second son Pal.

A Balgowan love story?

Sydney’s wife Brita Elizabeth Bakewell, whom he married in 1920, was volunteering as a nurse at Balgowan VAD hospital between 1916 and 1917. Did their paths first cross whilst he was being treated at Balgowan?

This page was added by Ian Grant on 01/06/2015.

Comments about this page

  • Hello Louise
    I am Pat’s daughter! I was also born in 1951, but in England. My father died in 2004, with Peter having passed away in 1983. I did not really know Peter as he lived abroad for most of his life.
    I have a brother, Michael, who lives in South Australia, two children, Ian and Alison, and four grandchildren.
    Coincidently my husband and I lived near Beckenham when we were first married, but Brita (or Granny Saunders as I called her) never said she used to live there! We now live in Gloucestershire. I presume you are still in South Africa?

    By Linda Talbot (18/02/2017)
  • Sydney Saunders was my father. My mother Elizabeth Dennison, married Sydney after he and Brita divorced in 1951. My father told me that he had been wounded by a sniper during the First World War, the bullet exiting at the back but touching the lung. He fell in love with his nurse, Brita and they were married on the 31 January 1920. I have never met my half brothers Peter and Pat but have seen photographs of them when they were young boys in South Africa.
    I am Sydney’s only daughter and the only child from the union with my mother Elizabeth Dennison. I was born in Johannesburg 1951. Sydney died in Johannesburg South Africa in 1980.

    By Louise Moralee (23/05/2016)

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