Cook, George Nesbit
Private 11904 George Nesbit Cook was killed in action, 23 March 1918, and is buried at Grand-Seraucourt British Cemetery. He was born in Barrow-in-Furness and enlisted in Newcastle.
His service records have not survived but his medal index card indicates that he went to France with the battalion on 20 July 1915, so served the whole war with 11 DLI. He was one of many to lose his life in the battles of the German Spring Offensive, but in case he appears to have at least been treated and properly buried with identification.
Cook, John T
Lance Corporal 23506 J T Cook, aged 25, from South Shields, died at home post-war, 6 January 1919, and is buried at Harton Cemetery, South Shields. He was the son of Joseph and Sarah K Cook of 34 Henry Street, Whitelea, South Shields. His service records have not survived but his medal index card indicate that he went out with the battalion to France on 20 July 1915 and therefore will have served the entire war with the battlion. The medal card is also endorsed with instructions to dispose of the medals in 1922, which may indicate that his parents had either died, moved away, or did not want the medals as a reminder of their son.
In 1901, John T Cook was aged 6, the eldest son of Joseph Cook, coal miner-hewer of 16 Garrick Street, Westoe, South Shields and Sarah Cook.
Private 24787 William Cook, from Willington, died of wounds 25 July 1918, buried at Erme Communal Cemetery Extension. His service records have not survived, but his medal index card indicates that he went overseas on 25 August 1915, when 11 DLI was receiving reinforcements from the reserve battalions, 16 and 17 DLI.
In 1901, he was aged 17, the son of Thomas Cook, blacksmith of 86 George Street, Willington Quay, Northumberland and Margaret Cook. He was himself a boilermaker’s apprentice.
In July 1918, 11 DLI were based at Carency, carrying out various trench works. Although this was a relatively quiet sector of the front, there were sporadic attacks with gas, shell and sniper fire. Cook will have been one of the several casualties.
Cooke, Douglas Edgar
Lieutenant Douglas Edgar Cooke (sometimes appearing in records as D .C. Cooke) was awarded the Military Cross, London Gazette 16 September 1918, for actions during the March Retreat. During these events he was Acting Adjutant, with HQ Company, working side by side with Lt Colonel Geoffrey Hayes. They were generally never less than 100 yards behind their battalion front line controlling signallers and runners and were crucial to directing operations during fast moving events in which they were generally on the back foot. Cooke first went overseas to a battalion of DLI on 4 October 1916 at the rank of 2nd Lieutenant, aged 19. He transferred to the Royal Engineers as a Lieutenant, before being allocated to 11 DLI. He finished his service with the Royal Engineers and applied for his medals 19 October 1921, citing an address at Rydal Mount School, Colwyn Bay, North Wales. In the 1911 Census he was a 14 year old pupil, born in Swadlincote, Derbyshire, at Kingswood School, Lansdown Road, Bath where there were 226 pupils in the charge of Frank Richards – the school continues as an independent school to this day with a strong Methodist ethos. Rydal Mount School also was a Methodist independent school, emerging from the doldrums into new energies in the 1920s when Cooke taught there.
Lance Corporal 24447 Charles Cooper first landed in France on 4 August 1915 and was later transferred at the rank of Private 66077 Royal Scots. Nothing further is known.
TNA Reference: WO 339/5410
Lieutenant Myles Cooper was the youngest of ten children, born to Reginald and Harriet Cooper in Argentina on 28 February 1895. Reginald died in 1901 and Harriet took Myles and some of the younger children to Karlsruhe in Germany where she had relatives. Later Myles attended Bow School in Durham, England, under the care of his uncle, Canon Vincent King Cooper, who was on the staff of Durham Cathedral and was curate of St Oswald’s church. Canon Cooper lived at 16 South Bailey, both in 1911 at the time of the census, and when he was given as next of kin for Myles in his service records. There is no trace of Myles in the 1911 UK census.
Myles was boarded at Durham School from age fourteen to nineteen, completing his studies there in 1914. He was a successful pupil, winning prizes for Greek and Latin. His character and education were certified in his service records by RD Budworth, headmaster of the school. Myles enlisted in December 1914 and, following his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant, went out to France on 24 November 1915 to join 11 DLI where they were stationed near Laventie.
There are no enlistment papers among his service records, which relate mainly to a few weeks in 1917 when Cooper was sent back to England suffering from otorrhoea. Otorrhoea is a generic name for discharge from the ear. He was sent home for treatment on 29 May 1917, embarking at Le Havre on 1 June 1917 on HMAT ‘Panama’. An initial medical board at Oxford on 12 June 1917 recommended a period of leave for recovery. He was ordered to rejoin 3 DLI at South Shields on 3 July 1917. A final examination at Military Hospital, Cannock Chase, Rugeley Camp on 16 July 1917 stated that he was now recovered. The condition had been caused by exposure to cold weather. He was to rejoin his unit.
Cooper was a Lieutenant in charge of D Company during the March Retreat and distinguished himself, managing to fight his way back to rejoin the main battalion with only four men and any stragglers he could pick up on the way. Cooper had already been mentioned in despatches for actions in 1916 (London Gazette, 4 January 1917) and received a second mention (London Gazette 26 December 1918). The level of recognition seems somewhat modest.
He survived the war, being discharged at Wimbledon on 19 February 1919, giving an address then as Smith Lawn, London Road, Tonbridge, Kent. After the war, he emigrated to Argentina to join his family out there. He applied for his medals on 29 April 1926, giving a forwarding address as c/o The British Society of the Argentine Republic, 349 Lavelle, Buenos Aires. That year he married Lexie Campbell Todd, had a son and daughter, but was badly hit by the economic crash. During a short period in the UK, Myles’ daughter died. They returned to Argentina in 1935, but the combination of his war experiences (what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder), the severe financial difficulties and grief over the loss of his daughter, proved too much. To quote his son, “he brought his mental torment to an end by a self-inflcted gunshot”. His descendants now live in Canada.
[I am grateful to the son and grandson of Myles Cooper, for clarification of what was potentially misleading in the official records, as well as the tragic story of what happened after the war.]
Private 20849 John Copeland enlisted at Durham 10 November 1915 aged 19 years and 1 month. He was just over 5ft 5in, with fair complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. Born in Seaham in 1896, at the time ofenlistment he was an apprentice joiner at Joseph Wedges of Seaham Harbour. He served with 20 DLI from 12 November 1915 to 27 November 1916, transferring to 17 DLI until 11 February 1917. He was on home service with 3 DLI from 11 February 1917 to 15 May 1917, before assignment to 14 DLI until 4 February 1918.
He served with 11th DLI from then until discharge 11 February 1919. Survived the war. Papers and taped interviews with the Liddle Collection at Leeds University. Amongst the papers is a note from 2 Lt E.R. Harbour to Lt Col Carlisle of 11 DLI to the effect that Copeland was qualified in demolition and musketry and had done joinery work with 14 DLI, specifically the conversion of dewlling house units into officers quarters – no doubt a welcome skill!
While with 20 DLI Copeland witnessed the first use of tanks at Flers-Courcelette in 1916. He kept a rather sparsely recorded diary in which it shows he went on leave in October 1918, returning to Boulogne on 2 November, arriving back with his unit on 5 November and was with them when hostilities ceased on 11 November 1918.
Cornish, John James
Private 16233 John James Cornish, aged 32, died of wounds and is buried at Étaples Military Cemetery.
Cornish was a miner from Brandon, and like others from there, when he attested he did so for three years only, amending the declaration. He was aged 30 years and 8 months on 31 August 1914, 5ft 6 in, 128lbs, 34½in chest. He was posted immediately to 11 DLI and served with D Company.
While in training he had a number of minor offences. On 11 October 1914, he was awarded 3 days CB for being absent from Tattoo Roll Call until 10.20pm. On Xmas Eve, 24 December 1914, he was awarded 5 days CB for being drunk and creating a disturbance about 10.30 pm.
He went out to France with his unit in July 1915. He died of a gun shot wound to the head at 26 General Hospital, Étaples on 11 September 1916. Given that he was at a base hospital, it is likely that he had been wounded several days earlier, most likely during the capture of Guillemont, 3-5 September 1916. During that action, D Company was one of the units that went into action directly against the protecting, creeping barrage in the first assault.
His effects were sent to his widow Mrs Margaret J Cornish at 80 Newcastle Street, Brandon Colliery on 28 December 1916. She was awarded a pension of 18s 6d for herself and two children with effect from 9 March 1917.
Private 25820 James Coulter was killed in action, 18 September 1916, and is commemorated Thiepval Memorial. According to ‘Soldiers Who Died’ he belonged to 14 DLI, not 11 DLI, as recorded by the CWGC. He was born Usworth, enlisted Deaf Hill, Durham and lived in Wingate. His service records have not survived. According to his medal index card he went overseas on 17 December 1915, which suggests that he was not one of the early volunteers in late 1914.
Both 11 and 14 DLI were on the Somme battlefield on 18 September 1916 and, in their different ways, active. 11 DLI were making assembly trenches west of Lesbeoufs, as part of the onging offensive of Flers-Courcelette, under heavy fire and suffering casualties. However, on the morning of 18 September 1916, 14 DLI went forward behind a creeping barrage in an attack on the Quadrilateral, losing more than 30 killed in the process. The balance of probability therefore is that James Coulter served with 14 DLI.
In the 1911 Census James Coulter, aged 26, coal miner hewer, born Usworth, Co. Durham, and single was boarding with Henry Plettes and family at 37 King Street, Shotton Colliery.
Lance Corporal 18830 Gawin Cowell was killed in action, 13 October 1915, and is buried at Rue-du-Bacquerot No. 1 Military Cemetery.
Cowell was a miner, born and living in Birtley, where he attested 9 September 1914. He was 5 ft 5¼in tall, 134lbs, 35½in chest, fresh complexion, grey eyes, fair hair, C of E.
He was posted straight to 11 DLI and on 2 February 1915 was appointed Lance Corporal, serving with D Company. This did not prevent him recording a couple of misdemeanours during training. The first offence on 26 April 1915 is illegible, but appears to be overstaying pass and may have involved his wife. He was confined to barracks 7 days and lost an amount of pay. On 11 May 1915 he was charged with neglect of duty while in charge of a section, reported by CSM Stokes and reprimanded by Captain G R Scott.
He went abroad with the battalion on 20 July 1915 and lasted 86 days before being killed in action at Laventie on 13 October 1915. He was Number 24 on the roll of NCOs. At the time of his death, 11 DLI were in the trenches at Laventie with 60 Brigade, from 7-14 October. They were under constant shell fire, which is almost certainly how Cowell died. On that specific day, 11 DLI were involved in a dummy attack which occasioned more than the usual realtiation from the Germans.
Cowell was unmarried and, as at 14 August 1919, his father was deceased. His mother was Mrs Isabella Cowell of 66 Harrass Bank, Birtley. There were four brothers: John 22, Harry 23, Andrew 21 and William 19 – the last of whom was with 53rd Northumberland Fusiliers with the army on the Rhine. He had two sisters: Mary Ann 26 and Isabella 16.
Mrs Cowell had received 9s 0d separation allowance and 3s 6d allotment of pay. It is not clear whether a pension was awarded. Cowell’s personal effects were returned 29 January 1916 but no list survives. The memorial scroll was sent out 26 April 1920, Star and War Medal 5 May 1920, and Victory Medal 20 June 1921.
Private 25732 William Cowie of Station Town, Co Durham, went out with 11 DLI on 20 July 1915. He was later promoted to Sergeant and awarded the Military Medal (London Gazette, 6 August 1918). He survived the war, discharged Class Z reserve.
Coxon, Matthew [not 11 DLI]
Private 34999 Matthew Coxon died at home, 19 August 1916, and is buried at Harton Cemetery, South Shields. Although listed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as 11th DLI, he served in 25th (Works) Battalion DLI and then the Army Service Corps. He was killed in an accident at Brigg in Lincolnshire.
Coxon signed on at South Shields on 9 December 1915 and was placed on the reserve. He was a 28 year old farm labourer, married with one child. He was called up on 30 May 1916 and examined at Sunderland. Almost 5ft 8in tall, weighing 140lbs and with a 38½in chest he was described as having good physical development, but was passed fit only for labour at home.
His family was Margaret (née Dingwall), whom he had married at South Shields RO on 18 October 1913, and a daughter Evelyn, born 7 December 1914. At attestation they lived at 4 Felt Terrace, Tyne Dock, South Shields. His father was also called Matthew, living at 18 Wilkinson Terrace, South Shields (deceased by the end of the war). Coxon had been born at Langley Moor. His wife was awarded 17s 6d pay.
Coxon was assigned to the 25th (Works) Battalion DLI. Even this home posting was to prove less safe than might have been imagined. While attached to Y Company, ASC Worcester on 19 August 1916, he was working at Brigg in Lincolnshire with a waggon and horses. In an accident he was killed. There is a copy of the inquest report in his papers.
Following his death his wife was awarded a pension of 15s 0d. By the time it came to the issue of medals she had remarried as Mrs Margaret Foster, living at 84 Marlborough Street, South Shields.
Craggs, Jonas May
Sergeant 25905 Jonas May Craggs, from Escomb near Bishop Auckland, was killed in action, 29 March 1918, and is buried at Mézieres Communal Cemetery Extension. He was one of two brothers who served in 11 DLI, the other being CSM Thomas Johnson Craggs. He was the son of Robert Craggs, a blacksmith at Toronto Pit near Bishop Auckland.
His service records have not survived, but his medal index card indicates that he went out to France on 4 August 1915, at the same time as his brother, as a Lance Corporal, rising later to Sergeant. He therefore probably trained with 16 or 17 DLI. His brother was ten years his senior, Jonas being born c 1897.
Although it was Thomas who got the medal awards, Jonas will have certainly distinguished himself on 29 March 1918. The remnants of the battalion, after a long and arduous fighting retreat, were part of a desperate attempt to sieze back the village of Mézières from advancing Germans. Several small groups broke into the village, while others were pinned down in open ground under a hail of machine gun fire and trench mortars. It was almost suicidal, almost successful, but ultimately the survivors were beaten back. They were pulled out of the line two days later.
Private 21340 Matthew Craggs, aged 31, from Wheatley Hill, died of wounds 30 October 1917, and is buried at Dozinghem Military Cemetery. He was the son of John William and Mary Craggs of Murton Colliery, and husband of Charlotte Craggs of 32 Smith Street, Wheatley Hill.
His service records have not survived. His medal index card indicates that he went overseas on 17 August 1915, which probably suggests that he enlisted in 1914 but trained first with 16 or 17 DLI before going out as reinforcements. Several batches of men arrived with 11 DLI around that time.
At the 1911 Census, Matthew Craggs, aged 25, coal miner hewer, born Murton Colliery, lived at 10 Coronation Street, Ludworth, Co Durham. His wife, Charlotte, was aged 25, from Boyne Colliery, Co Durham, and they had been married for five years. They had three children: Eva aged 4, John W aged 2 and Robert aged nine months. Also living with them were two half-brothers: Ralph and Henry Walker, aged 13 and 10 respectively.
From 1 October 1917, 11 DLI were heading south for the forthcoming tank battle at Cambrai and were not engaged in battle. Matthew Craggs must therefore have been wounded during the last week of September 1917, when 11 DLI were engaged in a mixture of road repairs and trench digging, under constant fire from artillery, including gas shells. Dozinghem Military Cemetery is at Poperinghe and was the site of several Casualty Clearing Stations for men wounded on the Ypres Salient.
[There is a photograph of Matthew Craggs, p 108 ‘The Employees and Residents of Thornley, Ludworth and Wheatley Hill’]
Craggs, Thomas Johnson
Sergeant Major 3/10383, from Bishop Auckland, awarded Médaille d’Honneur, London Gazette 14 July 1919.
Thomas Johnson Craggs was the son of Robert Craggs, a blacksmith at Toronto Pit near Bishop Auckland. He was one of two brothers and followed his father into the same trade. Thomas won the Distinguished Conduct Medal for action during the German Spring Offensive, when he took charge of his company after the officers were killed [LG 3 September 1918]. This was on 22 March 1918 as CSM for B Company. He took charge of a section of the Company and fought his way back to the remainder of the unit alongside men from 12 Rifle Brigade, but there were several similar incidents during the retreat.
His brother, Sgt Jonas May Craggs, also served with 11 DLI and was killed in action 29 March 1918. Thomas survived the war and died in 1941 aged 54.
Craig, Walter George
TNA Reference: WO339/63235
Second Lieutenant Walter George Craig, aged 27, died 5 November 1918, and is buried at Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery, Germany.
Walter George Craig was born 1 January 1891 in Gateshead. Before the war he worked in Gateshead as an assistant clerk in the Weights and Measures Department. His father was the manager of a chemical works. He and his wife family lived at 45 Beaufort Street, Gateshead.
In quick succession he joined up in the forces on 13 July 1915 and married Nellie Grey on 17 May 1915. Age 24, he was originally assigned as a Private PS/8222 in the 19th Royal Fusiliers. It is not clear from the surviving papers whether or not he served overseas in that capacity. He applied for a commission 20 March 1916, expressing a preference to serve either with DLI or the Northumberland Fusiliers. He was accepted 26 May 1916 and sent to No 4 Officers Cadet Battalion, Oxford. Following initial training he was posted, 6 October 1916, to the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, as a 2nd Lieutenant (LG 17 October 1916).
He was transferred to 11 DLI on 5 January 1917, serving with the unit for the remainder of the war, apart from a period of leave 24 January 1918 to 7 February 1918. He was back in post at the time the Germans launched their Spring Offensive and was reported missing the first day that 11 DLI went into action (22 March 1918). A report to the War Office 25 May 1918 confirmed that he was a prisoner of war.
The first news of his eventual fate came in a letter from a repatriated fellow officer, Lt A H Gallie (not Galley) dated 14 December 1918. This stated that Craig had died at Grandenz officers PoW camp on 5 November 1918 ‘from complications resulting from an attack of the Spanish Influenza’. He had been buried with military honours on 9 November 1918 at the cemetery at Grandenz.
The official report from the German authorities came much later in a report dated 15 April 1919, that he had ‘died on the 5th November 1918 at 11.45 am at Grandenz, within the confines of the Officers Prisoner of War Camp’. Meanwhile a War Office letter based on Lt Gallie’s report had been sent Mrs Nellie Craig on 9 January 1919. She wrote to the War Office 16 March 1919 as follows:
I wish to apply for the War Service Gratuity due to my late husband, Lt W G Craig. My husband enlisted 13 July 1915 and served as a private until 26 September 1916, when he was gazetted 2nd Lt 3rd Durham Light Infantry and later attached to 11th DLI. He died a Prisoner of War at Grandenz, Germany on 5th November 1918.
The details of the case were handled by Messrs H & A Swinburn, 12 West Street, Gateshead, who noted a final grauity including back pay £125.9s.0d. This also included personal effects of £1.5s.5d.
Private 71051 Frank Crofts, aged 20, was reported missing in action 23 March 1918, and is commemorated on the Pozières Memorial.
Crofts was a conscript from Holmesfield, near Chesterfield. He attested originally on 16 September 1916, aged 17 yrs 10 months, labourer, 5ft 8½in tall, 36″ chest, next of kin, George Crofts, his father. He was posted to army reserve as from 19 September 1916 and mobilised 29 January 1917 after a medical examination at Derby, classed Category A. An unspecified amount of allotment was paid to his mother Sarah. Frank had five brothers – Leonard, George, Sam, Elijah and John as well as three sisters, two married, and the youngest Nellie 16. (as of 13 October 1919).
He went first to TRB 3 on 31 Jan, then TRB 5 from 18 August 1917. He was posted to 3 DLI Rugeley from 15 September 1917 and was at Base Depot France in December 1917. Initially he was placed with 10 DLI, but reposted 15 December to 14 DLI. However, when 14 DLI was wound up, he was transferred to 11 DLI on 6 March 1918.
He was reported missing on 23 March and struck off 26 June assumed to be dead. On a list of correspondence there is reference sent from the next of kin to a letter from his brother Gunner Leonard Crofts of 37th Siege Battery RFA, that the soldier was in hospital wounded (not clear which soldier). This will have been part of the enquiries being made to try to trace his whereabouts, and whether or not he had been taken prisoner.
Private 25716 James Cummings, aged 27, born Sheffield, from Durham, died of wounds, 20 February 1916, and is buried at Essex Farm Cemetery, Boezinge. He was the son of John and Margret Cummings of Newcastle and husband of Elizabeth Cummings, Mayfair House, Station Road, Ushaw Moor. His service records have not surivived. But his medal index card indicates that he went overseas with the battalion on 20 July 1915.
In February 1916, 11 DLI arrived for the first time in the Ypres Salient after serving for several months on the front near Laventie. From 19-21 February there were successive gas alerts while the battalion was doing general trench work and burying of signal cables. There were also constant shelling incidents, the line being totally overlooked by the Germans on higher ground.
Cummins, John George
Private 16984 John George Cummins, aged 27, died of wounds, 21 September 1916,and is buried at Grove Town Cemetery, Méaulte.
John Cummins was a coke worker aged 24 yrs and 8 months when he enlisted at Stockton on Tees on 2 September 1914. Born in Broompark, near Ferryhill, he was 5ft 7¼in tall, 150lbs, 37in chest, had brown eyes and hair, fresh complexion, C of E and was flatfooted. Cummins was not married. His father was Robert Cummins and mother Elizabeth. He had a brother Robert and a sister Margaret.
He was posted to 11 DLI and went out to France with them on 20 July 1915, serving with C Company.
During training he was occasionally in trouble. At Pirbright he was charged on 28 December 1914 with overstaying his pass (not the only one that Xmas) from 8am to 9.45pm and was given 3 days CB. On 10 Feb 1915 he was given another 3 days CB for being late falling in on parade.
While in France he was admitted to 62 FA with diarrhoea on 15 December 1915, returning to his unit two days later. On 1 May 1916 he was awarded FP No2 for an offence on 5 April 1916 (this was not officially recorded in the FGCM returns and was therefore awarded locally in the field). On 17 September he was admitted with a gun shot wound to the head, and died on 21 September 1916 at 34 CCS. He was one of a group of men killed as a result of hitting unexploded ordnance while clearing a battlefield area after the battle of Guillemont.
After the war his British War Medal was sent to his father Mr R Cummins of Redmarshall, Ferryhill (formerly of Witton Village, Stillington)
Private 91068 Henry Cunliffe, aged 19, died of wounds, 6 June 1918, and is buried at Aubigny Communal Cemetery Extension.
Cunliffe was a conscript. He attested at Otley, where he lived at 51 North Parade, on 30 April 1917. He was a joiner aged 17 years and 359 days, 5ft 4in, 35in chest, 120lbs, C of E and born Halifax. His father was George Henry Cunliffe. He was called up on 4 June 1917, reporting at Keighley, then aged 18 years and 29 days.
Initially he was posted to 12th Training Reserve Battalion at Broxton, before transfer on 31 October 1917 to 273rd Infantry Battalion, Chelmsford. After further training he was sent to 52nd DLI and on 31 March 1918 was sent to France from the DLI base at Stockton. He arrived at Étaples on 2 April 1918 and was posted two days later to 11 DLI, to reinforce the battalion after it was pulled out of the line following the March Retreat.
The circumstances of his death are recorded minutely, as he died of wounds on 6 June 1918 as the consequence of an accident. He was accidentally shot in his billet from the rifle of Private Dodd(s). Statements were taken by Lt A Floyd.
1. Statement of 91036 Pte C Wilson: On the night of the 5th inst, about 8.30pm I heard a rifle shot in the billet. I looked around and saw the man next to me fall (91068 Pte Cunliffe) and across the hut I saw 91083 Pte Dodds with his rifle pointing in our direction.
2. Statement of 44899 Pte J Parkinson: On the night of the 5th inst about 8.30 I saw 91083 Pts Dodds cleaning his rifle. I turned round and about half a minute later heard a shot, and looking round saw that it came from Pte Dodds’ rifle.
3. Statement of 91083 Pte Dodds: On the morning of the 5/6/18 before proceeding to forward area I loaded my rifle. On returning to camp about 8.30 am I was very tired and forgot to unload magazine. I slept till late in the day 12.30pm. About 8.15 I was cleaning my rifle, having removed bolt and magazine. I left it to go to latrine and on return was ordered to fall in. I placed magazine in and then shot bolt home and pulled trigger forgetting it was loaded. Not having a cut-off on my rifle I loosed off a round, which hit one of my comrades.
The medical report from Capt WH Brodie, RAMC, described a bullet wound to the right hand and abdomen, severe.
Lt A Floyd’s report essentially accepted Dodds’ account, stating : About 8.30pm, 5th June 1918 No 91083 Pte S Dodd when in one of the huts at RATATA Camp, Carency, removed his charged magazine from his rifle (which has no cut off) and cleaned the rifle. He then replaced the magazine still charged, shot home the bolt and pulled the trigger. The rifle discharged a round and Pte Cunliffe was wounded in the hand and abdomen.
On 9 June Lt Col Boulton (CO of 11 DLI) passed the report forward attaching blame to Pte Dodds, and the Divisional CO, Major General GGS Carey sent Dodds for trial by FGCM.
Pte Dodds was awarded 56 days FP 2.
Pte Cunliffe was buried at La Neuville British Cemetery, WNW of Corbie. Mrs Cunliffe continued to receive separation allowance of 5s 11d until 16 December 1918. She received a letter dated 9 June 1918 stating that her son had been wounded, but there was no mention of the circumstances.
It is not known whether the family ever knew or suspected the truth. On 23 October 1918 Pte Cunliffe’s effects were returned, consisting of disc, letter, knife, diary, purse, 5 coins, 2 safety razor blades, and a stamp case. He had been the only child of George Henry and Jennie Lee Cunliffe. The headstone has a rather moving inscription from the family: UNTIL THE DAY BREAKS.
Cunningham, W. F.
Lieutenant WF [or WG] Cunningham, is mentioned in the battalion war diary, assisting in the enquiry into the accidental death of Pte J A Bowlt, 4 August 1915. He had been the officer called out when the body was discovered. When the battalion arrived in France he was second in command to Captain H P Floyd of C Company. During July 1916, when 11 DLI was involved in the horrible task of clearing the battlefield at Beaumont Hamel after the first weeks of the Battle of the Somme, Cunningham was one of several officers who reported sick. Nothing else known at this stage.
Curd, Henry Arthur
Private 24123 Henry Arthur Curd, was reported missing and presumed killed in action, 23 March 1918. He is commemorated on the Pozières Memorial. According to ‘Soldiers Who Died’, he was born London, lived in Notting Hill and enlisted in Shepherd’s Bush. Nevertheless, he seems to have gone out with 11 DLI on 20 July 1915 and must therefore have trained with them. It is possible that he originally enlisted in another battalion of the 20th Light Division and was transferred to 11 DLI in January 1915, when the battalion was assigned as Pioneers. This might have occurred if he had a useful trade skill.
Unfortunately, his service records have not survived and he cannot be definitively identified in the censuses of 1901 and 1911 [though there is an Arthur Henry Curd aged 32 in the latter].
Private (later Corporal) 21000 Ralph Cuthbertson of Consett was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, London Gazette, 3 September 1918. The citation reads: ‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. During the progress of a counter-attack this man showed great courage and determination. He was one of a small party who reached the ultimate objective, and during the village fighting, when men were wavering under heavy fire from the houses, he pushed on to the further end of the village, materially assisting in its recapture’. Unfortunately the citation does not indicate the name of the village in question, though it may have been Mézières, 29 March 1918. He served with 11 DLI from the outset, going to France on 20 July 1915 and was discharged Class Z.