Sidney Arthur Grimwade was born in Endon, Staffordshire on the 29th November 1894 to Marion Grimwade [née Cooper] and Leonard Lumsden Grimwade, a pottery manufacturer. Only Sidney and three of his siblings survived into adulthood, the fifth died in infancy.
Leonard Grimwade, together with his brother, Sidney Richard, had founded their pottery business in the 1880’s known as ‘Grimwade Brothers’. By 1890 the two brothers had showrooms in Stoke-on-Trent and London and by 1906 output was such that four factories in Stoke-on-Trent were required to keep up with demand. In 1913 HM King George V and HM Queen Mary visited the potteries and Her Majesty purchased a Winton tea service and was also presented with a Mecca Foot Warmer.
In 1929 Royal Winton became the established trade name for ‘Grimwades Ltd’ and, following the death of Leonard Grimwade in 1931 the company went from strength to strength, with the brand name continuing through to the present day. In 1937 the company produced a large commemorative earthenware mug moulded with a profile of HM King George VI and HM Queen Elizabeth to commemorate the coronation: the mug remains within the collection of HM Queen Elizabeth II to this day.
Sidney was educated at Newcastle-under-Lyme High School and then finally at Wellington College after which he was employed as a clerk within his father’s pottery business. In June 1912 Sidney, together with his brother Charles Donovan Grimwade, accompanied their father and other members of the English Ceramic Society on a ten day tour of western Europe. Here they toured factories in Holland, Belgium and Germany, where they visited Dresden, Dusseldorf and finally Berlin giving the young Sidney an early opportunity to encounter a future foe at first hand, some two years prior to the outbreak of hostilities. He passed his exams, gaining a distinction in the art of pottery and won the silver medal in 1914.
On 30th September 1914 Sidney signed up in Hanley with the 2/5th Battalion, The Prince of Wales’s (North Staffordshire Regiment) as Private 3494 Sidney A. Grimwade. He was assigned to No 7 platoon, ‘B’ Company. On 11th December that year he was made up to Lance-Corporal and the following month moved to the Luton area with his Battalion.
In January 1915 Sidney submitted his papers to become a commissioned officer which came through the following month when he was appointed to the rank of Second-Lieutenant within the same battalion. Twelve months later whilst based at St Albans he was promoted to First-Lieutenant.
In April 1916 the Battalion was ordered to Ireland to quell the disturbances associated with the Easter Uprising and here they remained until January 1917. Later that month they returned to England and were camped at Fovant in Hampshire from where they made preparations for embarkation.
Sidney and his Battalion sailed for Le Havre and landed on 25th February 1917 before moving up to the line. However, on 22nd July Sidney was repatriated back to Dover and nominally on to the strength of the 3/5th Battalion: he departed Boulogne on the hospital ship ‘St Denis’ suffering from trench fever. A month later at a medical board convened at the Prince of Wales Hospital in St. Marylebone he was pronounced recovered from the fever but with debility.
Further medical boards in September, at the Surrey Home Military Hospital in Seaford, and at Sutton-on-Sea in Lincolnshire in October, he was found to be still unfit for overseas service and so remained on sick leave.
However by mid-November 1917 Sidney had decided that army life no longer suited his condition and so he sought a transfer to the Royal Naval Air Service [RNAS] to train as a pilot. The RN Air Department subsequently wrote to the War Office on the 22nd November seeking his release; four days later at his final medical board he was passed fit and returned to his unit to await further orders.
On 13th December Sidney resigned his army commission and the following day was re-commissioned into the RNAS as a probationary Flying Officer [Second-Lieutenant] and proceeded to the Royal Naval College at Greenwich for elementary officer training. He remained here until 9th March 1918 when he was transferred to Oxford.
On 29th November 1917 an Act of Parliament that had established an Air Force and an Air Council, merging both the RFC and RNAS, received the Royal Assent by HM King George V. The Royal Air Force came into existence on 1st April 1918 with headquarters located in the former Hotel Cecil in Knightsbridge, London and today stands as the world's oldest independent air force: i.e. the first air arm independent of army or naval control. By the war’s end the RAF had dropped 5,500 tons of bombs and claimed 2,953 enemy aircraft destroyed, It had also become the largest air force in the world with some 300,000 male personnel, plus a further 25,000 members of the WRAF, with a total strength of more than 22,000 aircraft.
On the afternoon of Sunday 4th August 1918 and four years to the day since war was declared, whilst with the 54th Training Depot Station flying out of Fairlop in Essex, Second-Lieutenant [temp Flying Officer] Sidney Arthur Grimwade, RAF, took off in his Sopwith Camel [s/n E1419] aircraft. At 3.30pm on the conclusion of his flight the aircraft was in the process of landing, when only a few feet off the ground, he opened up the engine again without having gained sufficient height. The aircraft crash landed and Sidney was killed; he was 23 years of age. The subsequent Air Accident Enquiry attributed the crash to “pilot error due to an error of judgement on the part of the pilot”.
Sidney’s body was returned to his parents for burial and today he lies in Stoke-on-Trent (Hartshill) Cemetery in Staffordshire alongside his mother who died in 1925 and his brother who died in 1971.