Remembrance - The Yorkshire Regiment, First World War
Lieutenant Colonel Sir Mark SYKES
Close window to return to main page
Biography and photos provided below.
Lt Colonel Sir Mark SYKES
5th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment.
6th Bart. Commander of the Order of St. Stanislas (Russia). Order of the Star of Roumania. Son of the late Sir Tatton Sykes and Lady Jessica Sykes; husband of Lady Edith Sykes, of Sledmere, Malton, Yorks. M.P. for Central Hull since 1911. J.P. Died 16 February 1919. Aged 39.
Buried SLEDMERE (ST. MARY) CHURCHYARD.
Lt Colonel Sir Mark Sykes
The following information is taken from "Baptism of Fire" by Mark Marsay, published by Great Northern Publishing;-
Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Mark Sykes was born in 1879 at Sledmere Hall, Sledmere, near Driffield. He was the eldest son of Sir Tatton Sykes. At the age of 18 he served in the South African/Boer War with the Volunteer Company of the Green Howards. In 1911 he rose to become Commanding Officer of the 5th Battalion. In 1913 he was elected as an MP.
He served on 'the Staff during the war, 1914-19.
In addition to his responsibilities in connection with the Army, Sir Mark had a significant input with respect to the politics of the Middle East. His name was on the Sykes-Picot Agreement which effectively set the political scene in the Middle East for the next hundred years.
Sir Mark was responsible for raising the 1,000 strong 'Waggoners Special Reserve'; volunteer drivers attached to the Army Service Corps.
Although Sir Mark did not go to France with the 5th Battalion, he had been on the Western Front in September 1914 on a fact-finding tour primarily aimed at seeing how his Waggoners were faring. On his return to England he and Lady Sykes (his wife), having already paid for the Metropole Hotel in Hull to be converted into a military hospital, endeavoured to improve the medical arrangements at the battle-front. In October 1914 Lady Sykes, accompanied by several nuns, took charge of a 150 bed hospital in a chateau just 25 miles from the front. A month later she set up a 35 bed hospital in a villa in Dunkirk, and in a joint effort with the French Red Cross she brought over 5 doctors, 25 nurses, and scores of orderlies and drivers from the East Riding to her hospital at Villa Belle Plage. Lady Sykes continued her work in France until the summer of 1915 when army medical arrangements began absorbing such private ventures.
Meanwhile Sir Mark Sykes took personal charge of training his 5th Battalion in and around Newcastle, and remained with them until they left for France. After the war he erected Memorials to both the Battalion and the Waggoners at the village of Sledmere on the Yorkshire Wolds near Driffield.
He died from pneumonia on the 16th February 1919, while in Paris attending the Peace Conference. He was 39 years old.
A comprehensive biography of Sir Mark Sykes has recently been publshed by his grandson, Christopher Simon Sykes, - "The Man Who Created the Middle East", published by William Collins.
The photos below were taken in the Wagoners
For a larger sized image which opens in a new window, select the thumbnail image below.
Portrait painted in 1918, and bust
Early 20th Century portrait
Photo taken in Sledmere Park, 1911
An Illuminated Address presented by Local Tenants
to Mark Sykes on his Return from the South African War
The photos below are taken from "Baptism of Fire" by Mark Marsay, published by Great Northern Publishing.
A Photograph of Sir Mark Sykes and the 5th Battalion
Lt Colonel Sir Mark Sykes
-----------------> Return to top of the page