Well connected by blood and marriage to the military officer class, Francis Honorius Sisson Sitwell was born at Benares, Bengal, India on 2 December 1861, the son of Major Francis Henry Massey Sitwell (Bengal Army) of Barmoor Castle and Elizabeth Maria D'Olier.
Sitwell entered the regular army on 28 January 1882 lieutenant in the 1st Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry (DLI). He had previously been serving as a 2nd lieutenant (26 February 1879) and lieutenant (27 September 1879) in the 3rd Volunteer Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers. Promoted captain on 27 August 1890. He was promoted major on 1 January 1902 only to have the promotion canceled on 24 June 1902. He retired on retired pay on 17 September 1902.
Sitwell saw active service in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War initially with his battalion but later as adjutant of the 3/DLI. He was entitled to the Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps for "Cape Colony" and "Orange Free State" and the King's South Africa Medal with its "South Africa - 1901" and "South Africa - 1902" clasps.
Recalled to the colours during World War One, Sitwell was appointed temporary major and acting adjutant of 16th (Service) Battalion, Church Lads Brigade, the King's Royal Rifle Corps on 23 September 1914. The 2015 book Church Lads’ Brigade in the Great War: A History of the 16th (Service) Battalion, the King’s Royal Rifle Corps by Jean Morris recounts the wartime activities of Sitwell's battalion, but unfortunately Sitwell himself finds only one brief mention in it.
While Sitwell's precise movements with his battalion are unknown, something of his experiences can be assumed based on the 16th's overall wartime deployments. The battalion arrived in France on 15 November 1915 and was held in reserve until mid-1916 when it went into action at the Somme. Casualties were high. The battalion would see further heavy fighting at the Ypres Salient in the summer of 1918, being badly bloodied once more. For his service in the Great War, Sitwell was entitled to the 1914-15 Star and the British War and Victory Medals.
Sitwell married twice. Through his first wife Maria Corinna Vereker (m. 1889), he gained relationships by marriage to such noted military figures as Standish William Prendergast Vereker, Lieutenant, Natal Native Contingent who was killed in action at Isandlwana during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, and General Sir Ian Standish Monteith Hamilton, who’s long military career was left in a shambles at Gallipoli in 1915. The union produced one son, William George (b. 1890). Maria Corinna died a few short months after the birth of the couple's son.
Sitwell's second marriage proved more fortuitous. He married Margaret Elizabeth Culley in London in 1896. This union produced three more children: Margaret Frances (b. 1897), Oswald Reresby (b. 1898), and Francis Matthew (b. 1906). Sitwell's second marriage lasted until his death in Norfolk in 1946.
Cabinet Photograph (Trimmed)
Lafayette - Photographer
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