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Lieutenant Colonel Edward De Santis
2017.  All Rights Reserved.


             This research project was conducted after I acquired the medals of Major Greenfield.  His Long Service and Good Conduct medal was acquired as a single medal in 1990.  His India General Service Medal was purchased in 2003 from

another dealer in the United Kingdom, thereby reuniting the two medals from Greenfield’s group.  I am not aware of how the two medals became separated.  What sometimes occurs in the hobby of medal collecting, much to my dismay, is that some

collectors who specialize in a certain medal will buy a group of medals, keep the one in which they have an interest and sell off the other medals in the group.  As a result of this research I also have learned that Greenfield was entitled to the 1939-45

Star and the War Medal for service in World War 2.  As these medals were issued un-named they probably were sold off after the group was split up.


 The Parents of Sydney Alfred Greenfield

            Sydney’s father, William Alfred Greenfield, was born in Sunderland, County Durham in 1866.[1]  His mother, Charlotte Ann Pexton, was born in Hovingham, North Yorkshire in 1879.[2]  William and Charlotte were married in 1901 and resided at 263 Eastbourne Avenue in Gateshead, County Durham.[3]

Figure 1.  Map of Sunderland and Gateshead, County Durham. 

 Figure 2. The Residence of William and Charlotte Greenfield at 263 Eastbourne Avenue in Gateshead, County Durham.[4]

            Sydney Alfred Greenfield was born on the 11th of May 1904 in Gateshead, County Durham, probably when his parents were living at the Eastbourne Avenue address.[5]  His brother, Ronald Hesselgrove Greenfield was born on the 24th of May 1908, probably at the Queen’s Crescent address shown in the 1911 Census below.[6] 

            By 1911 the family had moved to 75 Queen’s Crescent in Sunderland.  The following is an extract from the Census of England for 1911:

Census Place: 75 Queen’s Crescent, Sunderland, County Durham

Name and Occupation


Marital Status




William Alfred Greenfield, Journalist (Reporter)







Charlotte Ann Greenfield,





Hovingham, North Yorkshire

Sydney Alfred Greenfield
In school





Gateshead, Durham

Ronald Hesselgrove Greenfield





Sunderland, Durham

             The census indicated that the Greenfields had been married for ten years by 1911 and that William Greenfield was working on his “Own Account” at “Home.”  This can be interpreted to mean that he was a freelance journalist, perhaps

writing stories for a local newspaper or magazine.  There were numerous newspapers being published in County Durham in 1911.  The newspaper published in William Greenfield’s home town at the time was the Sunderland Daily Echo and

Shipping Gazette.  This paper was published from 1873 to 1954.  It is quite possible that as a “freelance” reporter Greenfield had submitted articles to this paper and to others in Durham, or perhaps to newspapers and magazines in other parts of

the United Kingdom.         


Figure 3. The Greenfield Residence at 75 Queen’s Crescent, Sunderland.[7]

             When the Great War started in 1914 Sydney was 10 years old and Ronald was only 6.  Certainly their parents were happy that they would miss the carnage of that terrible conflict.  Both boys probably continued in school during the four

 years of the war, but military service soon beckoned to Sydney shortly after the war ended.


            Sydney Alfred Greenfield enlisted as a Sapper in the Royal Engineers on the 2nd of April 1923.  Upon his enlistment he was issued Army Number 1862966.[8]  Undoubtedly Sapper Greenfield attended the School of Military Engineering at Chatham, Kent for his training as an engineer soldier.  It appears that following his training he was posted to the 4th Company, Royal Engineers at a location that has not been determined.   The electoral registers for Newcastle- upon-Tyne for the years 1926 through 1929 show his address as 81 Wingrove Gardens in Newcastle and indicated that he was serving in the 4th Company, Royal Engineers.

Figure 4.  Sydney Greenfield’s Home at 81 Wingrove Gardens, Newcastle.

            The history of the 4th Company, Royal Engineers is an interesting one.  In July of 1887 the 4th Company was at Gosport. It became the training company for the School of Submarine Mining at Stokes Bay in May of 1892 and was converted to a Fortress Company on the 1st of July 1905.  It remained at Gosport as the training company for the School of Electric Lighting.    During the Great War of 1914-1918 war it was converted to the 4th Advanced Park Company and was moved to Salonika front.  By 1924 the 4th Company again was converted to a Fortress Company and was located at Haslar Barracks in Gosport.  In October of 1928 Greenfield extended his service to complete 12 years with the Colours.  He was still a Sapper at this time.[9]

            It would appear that Sydney claimed the Wingrove Gardens address as his “home of record” although he was serving in the Royal Engineers and probably was not living there.  It is possible that his parents had moved to this location and that he was using it as his permanent address for voting purposes.  The same electoral registers for the years 1930 through 1932 show this as his home address, although in these registers his service in the 4th Company, Royal Engineers was omitted.  This omission probably is based on the fact that during those years he was serving in India and his unit was not known or not recorded in the registers.


Service in India

            On the 22nd of November 1930, Sydney Greenfield, who was then a Mechanist Staff Sergeant, was posted to India.  He was serving in the Electrical and Mechanical (E & M) Branch of the Establishment for Engineer Services (E.E.S.).[10]  To more fully understand the duties that Greenfield would have been assigned in this unit, a description of the workings of the E.E.S. is in order. 

The Establishment for Engineer Services

            The term Establishment for Engineer Services (E.E.S.) or Royal Engineer Works Service had been used for a number of years in the 20th century to describe the duties of the Royal Engineers in connection with building construction and the use of materials.  This establishment dealt with the construction of fortifications, but by and large its greatest responsibility was in the area of the construction and maintenance of barracks. Other works undertaken by the Establishment included hospitals and Army Ordnance buildings.  With regard to the latter, the work included not only the buildings themselves, but also the provision and maintenance of fixed machinery and the construction and maintenance of magazines and buildings for the storage of explosives, with special attention to precautions against fire and protection against lightning.

            The E.E.S. also was involved with other buildings in support of the Army Service Corps, to include bakeries, stores, transport sheds and workshops.  Special facilities such as refrigeration plants also were provided at Gibraltar and Malta and at other tropical locations.  Many other buildings, such as churches, schools, offices, quarters for Commanding Officers and certain Staff Officers, also were provided by the E.E.S.  Other essential services of the Establishment included the care and maintenance of military cemeteries and burial grounds, the preparation of graves and the appointment and supervision of caretakers.

            In connection with all of the above works, there was an organization within the E.E.S. responsible for the control of "Military Lands."  This term included the land on which the barracks and fortifications were constructed, along with roads, parades and recreation grounds. Closely allied to the control of "Military Lands" was the provision of rifle and artillery ranges.

            One of the special branches within the E.E.S. included the Electrical Branch which consisted of Defence Electric Lights, Telegraphs, Telephones, and Miscellaneous Electrical Services.  The largest sub-element of the Electrical Branch was the Submarine Mining Service, which was responsible for the mine defences and also for the defence electric lights and electrical communications in the defended ports throughout the British Empire. Other miscellaneous electrical services included barracks lighting and protection of building against lightning.

            A second special branch of the E.E.S. was the Mechanical Branch, with its responsibility for installation and maintenance of engines, boilers and machinery used with pumping and heating plant, and machinery used in Royal Engineer and Ordnance workshops.  Other special branches of the Establishment were the Mechanical Transport Branch and the Railway Branch.[11]

            Upon his arrival in India Greenfield was posted to the E & M Branch of the Indian Military Engineer Service (M.E.S.).  The M.E.S. in India performed functions almost identical to the British E.E.S. and a short history of the M.E.S. is provided below.     

A Short History of the Military Engineer Service

            The first regular establishment of “Engineers” in India was formed in the Madras Army in 1748. On the 23rd of March 1770 the Chief Engineer of Madras Engineers had the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. From 1776 to1818 the Bengal Sappers and Miners existed in some form or other in Bengal Army. On the 19th of February 1819 the Bengal Sappers and Miners, consisting of six companies, officially came into being.  On the 1st of April 1862 the Bengal and Madras Engineers were amalgamated with the Royal Engineers of British Indian Army. The Royal Engineers were thereafter employed in the Department of Public Works or Railways or Survey Departments and from1851 the “Public Works Department” was under civil control and no separate organization was considered necessary for military works. After 1860 there was a boom in the construction of civil works. A large number of civil engineers were engaged and the military department began to lose proper control over military works. By 1871 the situation was so unsatisfactory that a “Special Military Works Branch” of the Public Works Department was given the responsibility for major works and ten years later the branch was placed under military control. In 1889 the “Military Works Department” took over all the military works in India. However, it was not until 1899 that this Military Works Department became entirely military in character and was officered by Royal Engineers. It was then named as “Military Works Service” and so it remained until 1923 when it was renamed as the “Military Engineer Service” which continues till this day.  It was this last organization to which Greenfield as posted upon his arrival in India, approximately five months after the outbreak of hostilities with the Afridis in on the North West Frontier.

Operations on the North West Frontier, 1930-1931

            The following information describing these operations has been taken from The Military Engineer in India by Lieutenant Colonel E.W.C. Sandes, R.E.  These operations were underway while Greenfield was serving in the region.  What specific part he played in the operations is not known.

            “For several years the Indian Army devoted itself to a much-needed reorganization, while politicians, to use a popular form of diction, "explored every avenue in search of a formula which might lead, in due course and through the proper channel, to responsible self-government." But the Afridis preferred direct action and took it in June of 1930, when they descended from the Tirah to raid Peshawar Cantonment.

            The Afridi were driven back, but returned in August and made a second abortive attempt. It was then decided that troops should occupy the Kajuri and Aka Khel Plains near Peshawar, and should occupy them permanently, thus denying to the Afridis the ground on which they grazed their cattle during the winter and the caves in which they sheltered with their families.  These operations were to be in three phases. First, the clearing of the Afridis from the area and the establishment of perimeter camps; then the provision of good roads, tracks and water supply; and finally the building of permanent camps and posts for the garrison of the area. The pro­gram was an engineering one. In fact, the cavalry, artillery and infantry acted in these operations of 1930 and 1931 merely as a covering force for the Engineers.[1]

Figure 5. Peshawar and the Kajuri and Aka Khel Plains.  

            The Kajuri Plain, lying a few miles south-west of Peshawar, is bounded on the north by a metalled road leading from Peshawar to Jamrud and so up the Khaibar Pass. The eastern boundary of both the Kajuri and Aka Khel Plains—the latter to the south of Peshawar —is the metalled Peshawar-Kohat road running through Matanni.  A third metalled road led in 1930 from Peshawar to Fort Bara on the Bara River which is a rapid torrent dividing the Kajuri and Aka Khel Plains and flowing in a deep and wide chasm with precipitous sides cut in a hard conglomerate soil. A track, ten feet wide, connected Matanni with Jamrud and formed part of the "Frontier Road." There was no surface water on the arid plains; but in the foothills, south and west of them, were a number of springs around each of which the Afridis had dug their winter caves.

            The occupation of the Kajuri Plain was easy.  By October l4th, 1930, the Nowshera Brigade was in position along the Frontier Road between Jamrud and Matanni, covering the operations of the 4th Company, Bengal Sappers and Miners, and the Bombay Pioneers, who were arranging for water supply. Three days later the Jhansi Brigade advance from Peshawar and crossed the Kajuri Plain to Miri Khel, while the Rawalpindi Brigade marched as far as Bara. On the 27th the three "brigades swept the plain clear of Afridis, and preparations were made for an advance of the Rawalpindi Brigade to a more central camp at Karawal Hill. This movement, however, could not be carried out until water was brought to the site of the camp, a task which was allotted to the 3rd Company, Bengal Sappers and Miners, assisted by a company of Bombay Pioneers, and was completed by them in 15 days. They installed a powerful pump on the Bara River, two miles above Bara Fort, and laid a pipeline for more than five miles to the site of the Karawal Perimeter Camp which was occupied by the 'Rawalpindi Brigade on the 17th of November. The work might have progressed even more quickly had it not been necessary to supplement the pipeline by a road with permanent piquet posts as it advanced. Most of the infantry units were now roadmaking with great energy and increasing skill under the technical direction of the Commanding Royal Engineer. The roads intended for heavy motor transport were made 18 feet wide with a foundation of stone overlaid with earth, gravel and sand. Nullah crossings were ramped to a limiting gradient of 1 in 10, and covered in some cases with wire netting.  During the latter half of November [about the time of Greenfield’s arrival] large gangs of coolies, under Engineer officers[12], extended the Peshawar-Bara metalled road towards the Kandao Pass at the rate of 200 yards a day. In short, the force "dug itself in" on the Kajuri Plain rapidly, methodically, and with little interference.         While the infantry wielded their picks and shovels, most of the Engineer units were sinking wells, laying pipes or building bridges. In the second phase of the operations, between November 17th and December 9th, the 3rd, 4th and 5th Companies of the Bengal Sappers and Miners were fully occupied with the water-supply installations of the three brigade areas; but before that phase began, the 4th Com­pany had built a fine bridge over the Bara River close to Bara Fort. The Frontier Road between Jamrud and Matanni—a most important lateral communication—crossed the river at Bara by a ford which was often impassable during spates, so it was decided that the river should be bridged. This was a difficult problem. A bridge was required to carry a load of a ten-ton steam roller and infantry in fours, and the tubular-steel bridging material which was available (Mark I, Inglis Bridge) would not carry such a load over a span greater than 120 feet, while the necessary span was 144 feet; but the problem was neatly solved by prolonging the bridge over its supports so that the projecting ends remained as cantilevers which were then weighted with concrete to reduce the stress in the centre of the main span. The line of the Bara Bridge was laid out on October 29th; the launch­ing of the girders from both banks to a central junction was completed in less than seven hours on November 13th; and on November 23rd the bridge was opened to traffic. It was a spectacular piece of engineering which reflected great credit on the Sappers and Miners, and also on the Sikh Pioneers and infantry working parties who laboured to cut the approaches in hard conglomerate soil.

Figure 6.  The Bara Bridge.

            Another Inglis bridge, of somewhat similar size and design, was erected by the 5th Company at Mazarai later in the operations; but in this case there were further complications as one bank of the Bara River was high and precipitous and the other rose to a lower level in two steps. A concrete and rubble pier was built on the lower step, and the girders launched across it to the far bank in which a very deep and long approach cutting was required. As in the case of the Bara Bridge, the last three bays of the Mazarai Bridge were counter-weighted and left permanently in cantilever—but at one end of the bridge only, instead of at both as at Bara. The pier was made 30 feet in height in order to limit the depth of the opposite approach cutting to 16 feet; but even so the Sikh Pioneers and infantry working parties who did the excavation were obliged to remove 250,000 cubic feet of very hard soil. It is creditable to all concerned that the whole undertaking was completed in 50 days. The construction of the Bara and Mazarai bridges was the most important engineering work executed during the occupation of the Kajuri and Aka Khel Plains, and it has been described in some detail to show what Sappers and Miners are now called upon to do in field operations.

            The third and final period, from December 9th to March 31st, began with the selection of the sites for the permanent camps and posts, and the Engineer units were soon sinking tube wells and raising defences at these places. Samghakai Post, Jhansi Post, Nowshera Post and an enlarged Fort Salop came into being, while road work continued in various directions. But in spite of a heavy program of engineering, several small punitive expeditions were sent against Afridi villages on the outskirts of the plains. One of these, in which the Rawalpindi Brigade operated against Tauda China on February i8th, will serve as an example of the usual employ­ment of the Engineer units. On this occasion the 3rd Company, Bengal Sappers and Miners, working with the 2nd Bombay Pioneers, demolished several towers and houses and blocked more than 100 caves with thorn trees, stones and barbed wire to which they some­times attached mines. In a mined cave, any movement of the wire caused the charge to explode and to discourage attempts to remove the wire with a hook and a rope from a safe distance, a mine was placed occasionally at just that distance outside the cave. The results were most satisfactory—except to the Afridis. Hostilities ceased gradually, and with the approach of the hot weather all the troops except the permanent garrison left the Kajuri and Aka Khel Plains. Peshawar was safe against further Afridi raids.”

            Greenfield probably was not involved to any extent with the tactical operations of the field companies of the Bengal Sappers and Miners during these operations.  His duties would have been primarily involved with the construction and maintenance of camp facilities that were occupied by the units operating in the area.  Greenfield’s duties did, however, earn him the India General Service Medal 1908-1935 with the clasp [NORTH WEST FRONTIER 1930-31].  This medal was awarded to all individual who served in the campaign between the 23rd of April 1930 and the 22nd of March 1931 for any action taken against the depredations of Abdul Ghaffar and his so-called “Redshirts,” as well as in the border villages.

            It appears that Greenfield returned home to England, probably on leave, in 1932 when he married Miss Doris Kibel in the fourth quarter of that year in Newcastle.[13]  He appears to have returned to India with his wife and remained there until the 2nd of December 1935 when he returned home.  Mrs. Greenfield preceded her husband home from India, arriving at Liverpool from Bombay aboard S.S. Elysia on the 19th of June 1935.  Mrs. Greenfield’s address on the ship’s manifest is listed as 35 Gloucester Street, Newcastle-on-Tyne.[14]  This had been her address at the time that she married Sydney.

            By May of 1936 Greenfield was serving at Weymouth, Dorset.[15]  Mrs. Greenfield would have joined him from her address in Newcastle upon his arrival at his new posting.  

 Figure 7.  S.S. Elysia, circa 1935.  

Service in World War 2

            Greenfield may have remained at Weymouth until the start of the Second World War.  In 1941 he received a Regular Army Emergency Commission (General List) as a Lieutenant, Inspector of Royal Engineer Machinery (I.R.E.M.).  This type of commission and duty was common for senior non-commissioned officers of the Establishment for Engineer Services.  Where he served during the war is unknown, but what is known is that he earned the 1939-45 Star and 1939-45 War Medal for his service.  This would indicate that he spent a period of at least 28 days between the 3rd of September 1939 and the 2nd of September 1945 in operational service overseas, probably in Europe.

Post War Service and Retirement

            Major Greenfield continued to serve as an Inspector of Royal Engineer Machinery after the war and he retired from the Army in 1950.


Sydney Alfred Greenfield received the following promotions and appointments during his time in service:

Date of Promotion or Appointment

Rank or Position

2 Apr 1923

Sapper, Royal Engineers, upon enlistment.


Lance Corporal, Royal Engineers


Corporal, Royal Engineers


Sergeant, Royal Engineers

29 Jan 1930

Mechanist Staff Sergeant, Royal Engineers (E.E.S.)


Mechanist Quartermaster Sergeant, Royal Engineers (E.E.S.)

10 Mar 1941

Lieutenant, Royal Engineers (I.R.E.M.)

5 Nov 1943

Temporary Captain, Royal Engineers (I.R.E.M.)

10 Mar 1943

War Service Captain, Royal Engineers (I.R.E.M.)

19 Dec 1946

Temporary Major, Royal Engineers (I.R.E.M.)

NOTE: UNK indicates that the dates of promotion could not be determined.  


            Major Greenfield received the following medals, awards and decorations during his time in service:[16]


Medal or Award


India General Service Medal 1908-1935 with clasp [NORTH WEST FRONTIER 1930-31]


Awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal (GVIR) with bar [REGULAR ARMY] upon completion of 18 years of service.


1939-45 Star


1939-45 War Medal

The  India General Service Medal is named in impressed upper case letters as follow:  

1862966 S. SJT. S.A. GREENFIELD. R.E.  

 Figure 8.  India General Service Medal 1908-1935  

The Long Service and Good Conduct Medal is named in impressed upper case letters as follows:  


 Figure 9.  Long Service and Good Conduct Medal  


Greenfield qualified for the following levels of education while serving in the ranks prior to being commissioned:



Feb 1932

In possession of a 2nd Class Certificate of Education

Apr 1936

In possession of a 1st Class Certificate of Education


            Sydney Greenfield’s activities after leaving the Army have not been determined.  London Electoral Registers show that he and his wife resided at 47 Erpingham Road in Wandsworth, London at least between 1952 and 1957.

 Figure 10.  47 Erpingham Road, Wandsworth, London.[17]  

            Sydney Alfred Greenfield died at St. Mary’s Hospital, 67 St. Ronans Road, Southsea, Portsmouth on the 25th of June 1966 at the age of 62.  His will was probated at Winchester on the 5th of October 1966 leaving his estate of £6,089 to his widow.

 Figure 11.  St. Mary’s Hospital, Southsea, Portsmouth.


Army Lists  

Army List, August 1949, p. 663a.  


1.      BAKER BROWN, W. The History of the Corps of Royal Engineers. Volume IV. The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1952, pp. 245-262.

2.      GORDON, L.L.  British Battles and Medals. Spink & Son, Ltd., London, 1979.  

3.      SANDES, E.W.C.  The Indian Sappers and Miners.  The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1948, pp. 636 – 641.  

4.      SANDES, E.W.C.  The Military Engineer in India.  The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1933, pp. 524-528.  

Census Data  

1. 1911 England Census
for Sydney Alfred Greenfield.

2. 1901 England Census for Charlotte A Greenfield.

3. 1891 England Census: Charlotte A Pexton.  

Internet Web Sites  

1.      Ancestry.com Family Tree: http://person.ancestry.com/tree/56309/person/25343979807/facts  

2.      British Empire: digital.library.northwestern.edu/league/le0288al.pdf    

3.      Forces War Records:


4.      Google Earth/Maps.  

5.      Gosport History: https://www.fortgilkicker.co.uk/royalengineers.htm    

6.      Military Engineer Service (India): http://www.mes.org.bd/  

London Gazette  

Supplement to the London Gazette, 6 MAY, 1941.  

Medal Rolls  

Royal Engineers Medal Roll Book, India General Service Medal, 1908-1935.  Army Medal Office Reference 30/47.  

Registry Documents  

England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915 for Sydney Alfred Greenfield, 1904, Q2-Apr-May-Jun.

England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 for Sydney A Greenfield, 1932, Q4-Oct-Nov-Dec.

3.      Newcastle upon Tyne, England, Electoral Registers, 1741-1974 for Sydney Alfred Greenfield, Absent Voters List, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932 and 1933.  

4.      Newcastle upon Tyne, England, Electoral Registers, 1741-1974 for Doris Kibel, Register of Electors (Central), 1929.  

5.      London, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1965, Wandsworth, Putney and Streatham, 1952.  

6.      London, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1965 for Sydney A Greenfield, Wandsworth, Putney and Central, 1953, 1954 and 1957.  

7.      England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 for Sydney A Greenfield, 1966, Q2-Apr-May-Jun.  

8.      England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, 1973-1995 for Sydney Alfred Greenfield.

Sapper Magazine  

1.      The Sapper, October 1928, p. 90.  

2.      The Sapper, February 1932, p. 196.  

3.      The Sapper, April 1936, p. 242.

4.      The Sapper, May 1936, p. 267.  

Ship Manifests  

S.S. Elysia, Bombay to Liverpool, 19 June 1935.


[1]  1911 Census of England.

[2]  1891 and 1911 Census of England.

[3]  1901 Census of England.

[4]  Google Maps Street View

[5]  The Sapper magazine, February 1932, p. 196.

[6]  Ancestry.com Family Tree.

[7]  Google Maps Street View.

[8]  The Sapper magazine, May 1936, p. 267.  The British Army had discontinued the use of Regimental Numbers shortly after the Great War and began to use Army Numbers, blocks of which were assigned to various regiments and corps.

[9]  The Sapper magazine, October 1928, p. 90.

[10]  The Sapper magazine, February 1932, p. 196.

[11]  Baker Brown, W., 1952.

[12]  Surely with the assistance of non-commissioned officers such as Greenfield.

[13]  England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 for Sydney A Greenfield, 1932, Q4-Oct-Nov-Dec.

[14]  Gloucester Street no longer exists in Newcastle-on-Tyne.

[15]  The Sapper magazine, May 1936, p.267.

[16]  All of the items listed in the table are in the author's collection.

[17]  Google Earth Street View.