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Matthew Maughan Cumming (1891-1916)

From Witton Gilbert, served with 18th Battalion DLI (Durham Pals).

Submitted by a member of the public:

Following the death of my late father I came across a memorial scroll from the War Office in his belongings which was for someone I had never heard of and I wanted to find out more about my family history.

The scroll was for a Private Matthew Maughan Cumming of the 18th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, Service No 18/462. He died on 28 July 1916, aged 26 and is commemorated on the Loos Memorial (Panel 106 and 107), France.

He was my great-grand-uncle Matthew who enlisted on 24 September 1914 at the age of 23 years 7 months and joined up with the 18th Battalion for training on the 10th October 1914 at Cocken Hall, Durham. Upon completion of field training the battalion were dispatched for front line action in Egypt on 6 December 1915 until 4 March 1916. On 5 March 1916 they left for France and on 28 July 1916 Matthew’s live was cut short at the battle of the Somme. Whilst under heavy bombardment, a shell hit the trench they were in (his body was never found and he was recorded as being lost in action). He was aged 26 years at the time and is commemorated on the Loos Memorial (Panel 106 and 107),France.

Sometime after, his father, William, received a letter from Matthew’s commanding officer Second Lieutenant James B Bradford, which was written from his hospital bed:

I am writing to tell you of how awfully sorry to hear of your son’s death. I am sure it will be a great blow to you. I heard about it by letter some days ago sent to me by one of my men. I had sent your son some cigarettes and they received them the day he was killed. Your son was my batman for four months at the front and I can truthfully say he was the best one I had ever had. Further he was a brave boy and I liked him very much indeed, and was very cut up when I had the news sent to me of his death.
With my deepest sympathy, in your sad loss.

Yours truly,

Second Lieutenant James B Bradford

Civil Parish: Witton Gilbert

Birth date: 1891

Death date: 28-Jul-1916

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: Front Street, Witton Gilbert (1911 census)

Employment: Miner (Army Service Records)

Family: Father: William Cumming
Mother: Annie Cumming
Siblings: John Cumming, Thomas Cumming, Hannah Cumming, Elizabeth Cumming, George W Cumming, Catharine A Cumming, Barbara J Cumming, Stephen Cumming, Winifred Cumming
Niece: Annie Cumming
(1891, 1901 and 1911 censuses)

Military service:

attested 24 September 1914
18 Battalion Durham Light Infantry

Memorial(s): Witton Gilbert, just off Sacriston Lane, memorial cross
Saint Michael and All Angels, Witton Gilbert, roll of honour

Gender: Male

Contributed by John Cumming