Sydney Casewell Cureton was born in December 1894 and raised in Church Aston, Newport in Shropshire by his parents William George Hassall Cureton, an engineer’s pattern-maker, and his wife Harriet, a dressmaker, alongside his siblings Georgiana, John and Flora. In the 1911 census, the 16-year-old Cureton is described as being employed as a domestic gardener, and it is likely that it was in this capacity that he worked at Bede College at Durham; he is not listed in the college’s Report and list of members (1925). His photograph is among those collected into two different ‘Friends’ albums by William Henry Bateman (1911-1913) and G.J. Gordon (1911-1913), and beside Cureton’s portrait in each album are penned his nicknames, ‘Tich’, and ‘Boanerges’ (Sons of Thunder) or ‘Thunder’. The other ‘Son of Thunder’ is identified as Bernard Easton, also nicknamed ‘Hook’, and who was in 1911 resident in Husthwaite, Easingwold in Yorkshire, the son of a jobbing gardener. The origin of their epithet ‘Sons of Thunder’ may refer to a shared impetuosity, but more likely refers to the two gardeners’ use of a thunder-box in the grounds, the contents of which may have been used to manure the garden!
Cureton enlisted with the 5th Battalion of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, and was killed in action, aged 21, on 15 July 1916, when his unit’s war diary (WO 95/1902/1) reports the battalion was in trenches, engaged in a southerly sector of the Battle of Delville Wood. He is buried at Agny Military Cemetery. Cureton’s death was reported in the December 1916 edition of The Bede magazine.
Cureton’s name is listed on the Longford and Church Aston memorial, the Telford and Wrekin Roll of Honour, and the Bede College 1914-18 Roll of Honour and Plaque. Currently, Cureton is not listed on the Bede College 1914-18 Cross, but there are moves to rectify this omission.