One of my side of the family this time – a third cousin. Sidney was born in Leeds on 8 May 1891, and joined the Navy on 26 July 1913. He signed up for 5+7 years, meaning he would do 5 years on active service and stay in reserve for a further 7 years.
The story from the local paper on 28 September 1917 is self explanatory.
Selby sailor released by the Germans
Nearly three years in East Africa.
It must be with a feeling of deep gratitude that Mrs Varley, formerly of Selby, and now of Leeds, heard of the return of her son, Stoker Sydney Longbottom, Royal Navy, after having been a prisoner in the hands of the Germans for well nigh three years. Young Longbottom, who has been on a visit to his grandmother, Mrs Lamb, of East Common, has been given his parole by the Germans, by whom he was taken prisoner in the attack launched upon their position in East Africa in the early part of 1915. He is a young man of 22 years and despite the trying experience he has passed during those long weary months of incarceration with the enemy, he is getting strong again, though it is regretted that in consequence of the treatment given he had been reduced in strength by about four stones which he happily regained when he got to the haunts of good food, care and attention, and genial atmosphere and companionship. It will be remembered that the young man was sent out with many others to serve his country in the German territory, and that shortly after arrival in East Africa the small craft which was being utilised was forced to surrender, and the crew kept prisoners by the Germans. The experiences which he had narrated to his friends were, if startling, of an entertaining nature.