Sydney Naylor was born on May 4, 1891 in Urmston, Manchester and was the oldest child of George and Edith Naylor (née Cowin). George Naylor owned a Stockbroker’s business and Sydney grew up in Urmston with his parents, two younger sisters, Edith Elizabeth and Annie Josephine, and a domestic servant. Sydney was educated at Manchester Grammar School and, like his father, became a stockbroker working at the Manchester Stock Exchange from 1909 to 1914.
At the outbreak of war, Sydney joined the Manchester University O.T.C. and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment, Territorial Force on November 7, 1914 where he was quickly appointed Temporary Lieutenant two weeks later. He joined the 2/9th Battalion in training at Southport but in early 1915 attended a general officer’s course in Formby followed by a physical training and bayonet fighting course at Aldershot. He moved with the 2/9th Battalion to Pease Pottage in June 1915 and on October 13, 1915 he embarked for Gallipoli with 10 other Officers, arriving at Mudros on October 24th, joining the Battalion on Cape Helles on October 26, 1915. Upon arrival it was found that two Officers already serving at Gallipoli were of a junior rank and so he was forced to relinquish his temporary appointment. On November 29, 1915 he suffered a gunshot wound to the head, losing his right eye, and was medically evacuated to hospital at Mudros and then to the UK.
He ultimately received a £250 gratuity and an annual pension of £100 for his permanent sight disability but, after he medically recovered, he joined the 3/9th Battalion, Manchester Regiment at Codford in January 1916. He rejoined the 1/9th Battalion in Egypt on October 25, 1916 but within 3 days reported sick to hospital. On November 12, 1916 he was promoted to Lieutenant and was attached to the 1st Garrison Battalion, The Devonshire Regiment, in Cairo, and struck of the strength of the Battalion.
In May 1917 he became an Orderly Officer to the GOC Palestine Line of Communications (LoC) and in November was appointed Staff Lieutenant, 1st Class Palestine LoC in Rafa. He evidently had done good work because he was awarded the Military Cross in the King’s Birthday Honours List on May 31, 1918. And on June 24, 1918 he was awarded a commission as a Lieutenant in the regular forces with the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment (West Riding). In September 1918 relinquished his staff appointment at his own request and was posted to the 1st Battalion, Manchester Regiment in Palestine. Four months later he returned to the Palestine LoC as Staff Lieutenant, 1st Class in Jerusalem where he remained until November 1919 when he was appointed Staff Captain to the 8th Infantry Brigade.
Inter-War Years Home Service
He returned to England in November 1921 and, after some leave, in February 1922 was posted to the 2nd Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s Regiment (West Riding), joining them at Aldershot the following month. He attended a training course at the School of Hygiene, Puckeridge Hill Aldershot followed by a Machine Gun Course at Seaford. He was then appointed Adjutant at the Depot in Halifax, attending an Adjutants’ Physical Training Course at Aldershot in 1925.
Prior to that, in January 1923, he married Doris Jean Robertson Brand and their daughter Gillian was born two years later on April 5, 1925.
He remained at Halifax until 1926 when he was temporarily posted to the 1st Battalion for special duty for six months in Scotland, during which time he attended a Combined Rifle & Light Automatic Wings training course. Upon his return he was stationed at Skipton and appointed Adjutant and temporary Captain of the 6th Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s Regiment (West Riding) on January 31, 1927, and promoted to Captain the following year. He completed his tour of duty as Adjutant in 1931 and was again temporarily attached to the 1st Battalion, at Aldershot, before moving to Southampton where he was appointed Assistant Embarkation Staff Officer in April 1932.
In 1934 he was promoted to Brevet Major and on May 26, 1936 he relinquished his appointment as Assistant Embarkation Officer and retired from the Army, on retired Captain’s pay, and was placed on the Regular Army Reserve of Officers (R.A.R.O.) List.
He and his family moved to High Halden, Old Hill, Staffordshire.
World War II
He was mobilized on August 26, 1939 and reported for Embarkation Duties at Newport, Monmouthshire. There he was appointed Deputy Assistant Quarter-Master General (D.A.Q.M.G.) and Embarkation Commandant, Movement Control, and promoted to Major and Local Lieutenant-Colonel. [Local rank meaning that he was paid at the rate of his substantive rank and not that of the local rank]. On October 29, 1939 he proceeded to France on temporary duty returning a week later. Upon his return he was granted the acting rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, (with commensurate pay), and appointed Assistant Quarter-Master General (A.Q.M.G.), South Wales Ports, three months later being made temporary Lt.-Col. In October 1941 he was granted the Local rank of Colonel.
After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 America entered the war and by the middle of 1942 hundreds of thousands of tons of US cargo was being unloaded at UK ports each month. By the end of the war the Bristol Channel ports alone unloaded more than 5.5M tons of US cargo. Col. Naylor, in his capacity as A.Q.M.G. (M) South Wales Ports, worked closely with the US Port commanders to facilitate an efficient port operation and smooth transition of control over to the US military in preparation for the D-Day landings in France.
In May 1943 he relinquished his appointment as A.Q.M.G. (M) South Wales Ports and was appointed Colonel Q (M), Bristol Channel Ports, with paid acting rank of Colonel but substantive rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He retained this position, still based in Newport, until January 1, 1946 when he relinquished his appointment and was struck off the strength. After 2 months accrued leave, he was demobilized and ceased to belong to the Regular Army Reserve of Officers, having exceeded the age limit but retained the honorary rank of Colonel.
A year earlier, on January 1, 1945, he was awarded the O.B.E., Military Division, for his wartime services. And in January 1947 he was awarded the Legion of Merit, Degree of Officer by the President of the United States of America in recognition of distinguished services in the cause of the Allies.
Colonel Sydney Naylor, M.C., O.B.E. died in Staffordshire on April 4, 1952 a month before his 61st birthday.