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War Memorials

In Memory of
Private 10279
2nd Battalion West Riding Regiment (Duke of Wellingtons)
Who Died on Tuesday, 1st October 1918
Age 22

While at Trelon Hospital, in enemy hands
Burial place unknown

Remembered with Honour
Duke of Wellingtons

Albert Cudworth was born in Beeston, Notts in 18961, the youngest of six surviving children of Samuel (b. 1861, Sutton-in-Ashfield, Notts) and Mary Ann Cudworth (b. 1866, Beeston née Mather). In 1901 the family was living at 45 Denison Street, Beeston with Samuel (senior) working as a lace maker2. By 1911. the family had moved to 59 Wimbourne Road, Radford, Nottingham. Samuel senior continued to work in the lace trade and, the young Samuel was probably working alongside him, now aged 14 and employed as a card lacer3.

It appears that, in March 1912, he enlisted for 12 years - 7 Active, 5 in the Reserve - with the Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment)4. In doing so, he was following the example of his oldest brother John, who had enlisted with the Regiment in 1904 and was now serving as a bandsman in India. Although Albert did not reach the age of 16 until later in the year of his enlistment there appears to be evidence within his surviving but heavily damaged Service Record, that his age was declared as 18 years and 1 month. In June 1912, after basic training at Halifax, he joined 2nd Battalion and was posted to Dublin.

When war was declared on 4 August 1914, the Battalion was immediately recalled from Dublin and was sent to France as part of 13th Brigade, 5th Division, landing at Le Havre on the 16th August. Private Cudworth was now serving alongside his brother John and they saw action almost immediately, when the battalion took part in the Battle of Mons and fought a rearguard action at the Battle of Le Cateau, part of the subsequent retreat from Mons, in which it suffered 360 casualties. As 1914 continued, the battalion was involved in the fighting that developed into the stagnant trench warfare that was to prevail for much of the rest of the war5. In November. it was part of the first Battle of Ypres, all but destroying the attacking enemy battalion - which lost 15 officers and 500 men - while itself losing 400 officers and men. Private Albert Cudworth was one of those injured and was moved back to England for treatment and arrived at The Chester Royal Infirmary on 19th November6.

Based on the tiny amount of evidence we have, it seems likely that Albert had been returned to his battalion on the Western Front by April 1915 when it took part in the Second Battle of Ypres and the Capture of Hill 60. After initial success, the occupied ground was retaken by determined German forces in battles which involved the use of poison gas and gas shells. In the confusion of the battle Albert was found to be missing - indeed his Army Record records his 'desertion' on 1 May 1915 but, in the light of what subsequent evidence we have, it is likely that was 'missing in battle'.

Eventually, it became known that, either in May 1915 or perhaps later during the German Spring Offensive in 1916, he was taken prisoner by the Germans7 and eventually died, while still in their hands, at Trelon Hospital, west of Cambrai, on 1st October 1918. Accounts of the treatment and suffering of other prisoners indicate that the prisoners were forced to work, given very little food and lived in squalid conditions. The hospital itself was over-crowded and dysentery was widespread8.

For Albert's parents too, the long months of not knowing what had happened to their son must have been a terrible time, made infinitely worse when they received the news that their eldest son, Corporal John Cudworth was wounded in action and died from his wounds on 1 November 1916. It wasn't until May 1919 that Albert's death was confirmed. In great sadness the family inserted the following announcement in the Nottingham Evening Post of 23 May 1919 :

It is not known were Albert Cudworth was buried and for that reason he is not remembered on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. However, in addition to the entry to his memory on the memorial in Beeston Parish Church, he is also remembered on the memorial in St Peters Church, Radford, Nottingham. Although the Medal Rolls appear to show that, because of his alleged 'desertion' the issue of medals was refused, it seems likely that this apparent injustice was eventually rectified and he was posthumously awarded the Victory Medal and the British Medal10 He should, however have also been awarded the 1915 Star9.

By 1919, Albert's parents had moved to live at 52 Grimston Road, Radford, Nottingham. His father died in 1924, aged 24. By 1939, his mother had moved back to Beeston to live with her son George's family at the Boat Inn in the Rylands where George was the landlord. She died in Beeston in 1946, aged 7910.

1His birth was registered in Basford Registration District (of which Beeston was part) in Q3/1896 (Ref 7b 221).
2Beeston, Notts : 1901 Census, Piece 3153 Folio 30
Albert's siblings were John (b, 1886) Emma (b. c1889), Lily (b. c1892), George (b. c1894) and Rose (b. c1896).
3Radford, Nottingham, 1911 Census, Piece 20622 RD430 SD4 ED30 Schedule 147.
4Details from his Army Service Record which is available on ancestry.com. Unfortunately, it is very damaged and on a small amount of detail has survived.
5The account of 2nd battalion's deployment during the early part of the war is based on details on the "War Memories Project" website (www.wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/allied/battalion.php?pid=5049) Details of Private Cudworth's redeployment are from his Service Record
6The Cheshire Observer of 21 November 1914, listed Pte Albert Cudworth, 10279, 2nd Duke of Wellington's amongst the fresh arrivals of injured soldiers at the Chester Royal Infirmary 'on Tuesday evening'.
7His family stated in 1919 that he was reported missing on May 27th without specifying a year. It is also possible that by the time he was serving with Yorkshire Regiment (Alexandra Princess of Wales' Own) as this is named in his Beeston war memorial entry.
8Accounts of the treatment of other prisoners who were at Trelon Hospital may be found at the Great War Forum site (www.greatwarforum.org/topic/158988-7th-field-company-royal-engineers-27-may-1918) and on the Flintshire Memorial site (www.flintshirewarmemorials.com/memorials/hawarden-memorial/hawarden-sodliers-2/herbert-foulkes/)
9John's medal awards are recorded on his Medal Card (available on ancestry.com). His entry in the Medal Rolls suggest they were withheld.
10These family details are from standard genealogical sources.

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