Regimental Sergeant Major J. S. (Syd) Byatt was born in Toronto and raised on Munro St, by the lower Don River, during the Great Depression. He suffered polio as a child, which left him with a withered leg. Being the oldest of three boys and two girls, Syd had to leave school at grade six and go to work to support the family.
Syd came of age just about the end of World War 2 and enrolled in the Army, first in the Armoured Corps then in the Queen’s Own. He had a long career with Toronto Hydro and by hard work and determination overcame the handicaps of lack of education and a partly crippled leg to become a Crew Chief.
Mr Byatt served as RSM from 21 May 1969 to 3 December 1971, had a strong interest in military history and was the prime mover in forming the ceremonial Pioneers and Skirmishers.
On retiring from the RSM position, Syd became Bugle Major of the Queen’s Own Buglers from 1971 to 1984, a job that seemed to be made for him with his impeccable appearance and bearing. There was one photo of Syd that became quite famous and was used in several publications: Bugle Major Byatt in white pith helmet and with a white cloth wrapped over his head and under his chin, traditional uniform in India during the Raj. They never learned the truth, that during a party at his cottage Syd dived off his dock into two feet of rocky bottom. The traditional white cloth was a bandage holding the top of his head together. Syd’s first wife, Jeanette died early, he remarried Patti.
Syd’s brothers both served in the Queen’s Own, Joe in Korea with the 1st Battalion and George in the 3rd. Syd was uncle to RSM Brian Budden.
With information supplied by CWO Mike Holland.