King Edward’s School and the Great War

Memorial Roll of Honour 1914 - 1918


Pepper, Sydney Whitelock

Lieutenant ▪ Territorial Force, Machine Gun Section

Sydney Whitelock Pepper, born on 23rd May 1892, was admitted to King Edward’s School in January 1904. He lived with his parents, Emma and Edwin, a well-known jeweller and silversmith, as well as his older brother and younger sister at 89, Soho Hill, Handsworth. His father’s firm, Smith and Pepper, operated in the Jewellery Quarter between 1899 and 1981, and the firm’s factory building is now the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter. Smith and Pepper manufactured a wide range of jewellery, notably swallow designs which were very popular during the World Wars, and Egyptian-style snake designs which became fashionable following the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922.

At School, Sydney’s general work varied in quality, but he performed well in science and drawing, which would have stood him in good stead in the family business.

In 1914, Sydney enlisted as a Private Soldier in the 1st Birmingham Pals Battalion (14th Royal Warwickshire Regiment). In June 1915, he gained a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the 8th Battalion, Territorial Force, Machine Gun Section. He was sent to France the following December and attached to a Garrison Battalion, suggesting that he was for a time unfit for service for some reason. In 1916, he rejoined his Battalion, was promoted to Lieutenant, and was seriously wounded on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, on 1st July 1916, in the assault on Serre, one of the strongly fortified villages held by the Germans. After a long period of recuperation, he returned to active service in France in April 1917. He reached the rank of Acting Captain in July, and was killed on 27th August 1917 at the Battle of Passchendaele. Sydney is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Flanders, and he left his estate of £1,365 to his father.