George Bertrand Sibbit was the third child born to Thomas and Janet Sibbit, of Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne. Thomas Sibbit snr was a certificated teacher when his second son, George Bertrand, arrived in December 1890, and as his family grew, the father’s career blossomed until, by 1911, he was employed as headmaster of an elementary school in Newcastle. George Bertrand, probably known as ‘Bert’, and his elder brother Henry, attended Chillingham Road Boys’ Secondary School and Rutherford College for Boys (later Rutherford Grammar School). Both men also followed their father’s example by training as teachers.
Henry Sibbit trained at Armstrong College, and then taught at West Jesmond County School. George Bertrand attended Bede College in Durham between 1911 and 1913. He completed his training there in July 1913, passing the certificate examination and achieving a distinction in Mathematics.
On leaving Bede College, he was appointed to the staff of St Paul’s C. of E. School in Elswick, Newcastle. He taught there until October 1914, when he joined the colours, serving in the first instance with the 18th Battalion (Tyneside Scottish) Northumberland Fusiliers, where he quickly rose to the rank of sergeant.
The Bede magazine reported the careers of many alumni, and it duly reports that George Sibbit was wounded in July 1916. Later he is reported to be serving with his brother’s battalion, the 22nd (3rd Tyneside Scottish), and so may well have been near La Boisselle on the first day of the Somme offensive when Henry Sibbit was killed in action serving with the 22nd (3rd Tyneside Scottish) Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, one of 20 officers and 628 other ranks lost on that day by this unit alone. From the other ranks 324 were wounded between 1 and 3 July and George Bertrand Sibbit may well have been among these. The 22nd was so weakened by losses that it was amalgamated with the 23rd Bn and on the 4 July moved into billets where they spent the rest of July. George Sibbit seemed to have been treated for his wounds in England and remained there for several months.
The London Gazette reports that Sibbit was commissioned in January 1917, transferring from a service battalion in June 1918, and the following month he was promoted to temporary lieutenant. This preceded his return to France in August 1918 and his transfer to the 1st Battalion on 8 September 1918. This battalion was involved in an overnight operation on 26/27 September at Havrincourt, when he was one of four officers killed in action.
His sacrifice is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial near Arras. He is also remembered on the Bede College Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour. The memorial plaque of Chillingham Road Senior Boys’ School in Heaton bears the names of both Henry and Bert Sibbit, as do memorials at Rutherford College (now at Tyne & Wear Archives), St Paul’s Day School in Elswick (in St Paul’s Church, now closed), St Gabriel’s Church (and roll of honour), the Conservative Club in Heaton (now in St Silas’ Church, Byker), a roll of honour formerly at St Paul’s Church, Havelock Place in Elswick, and a plaque at the West End Constitutional Club (now the Bentinck Sports and Social Club).