George Ben Sayce

Didsbury War Memorial, upon which Robert Hargraves Megson, George Ben Sayce, and Edgar Adolphe Sternberg are remembered. Photograph by author

George Ben Sayce was a former Manchester FC player and a captain in the 26th Manchesters. He was killed on the first day of the Somme. He was 29.

Sayce was the son of George and Elizabeth Sayce and was born in Rock Ferry, Birkenhead. In peacetime he had lived with his wife Dilys on 168 Palatine Road, Didsbury, and worked as a metal salesman. George and Dilys had a son, Peter Ben. For Manchester, he played for years in the pack, up to the last season before the war. He joined the Manchester Regiment in 1914 and was promoted to captain the following year.

After his death, Major Smalley reported to Dilys that prior to the assault Sayce had requested the honour of leading his men over the top come 7.30am. This was granted. Sayce’s unit successfully captured the first trench and pushed on toward the reserve lines. At this point, Sayce was hit by a sniper and fell dead.

Sayce is buried at Dantzig Alley British Cemetery, Mametz, France. Grave V1.1.2.

Hyde War Memorial Trust
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World Rugby Museum