|In Memory of|
2nd Battalion West Riding Regiment (Duke of Wellingtons)
Who was Died of Wounds on Wednesday, 1st November 1916
Buried Block O Plot 1 Q 3
St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, France
Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Remembered with Honour
St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, France1
John Cudworth was born in Beeston, Notts in 18862, the eldest of six 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. Samuel was working as a lace maker, while John, then aged 14, had
started work in the lace trade as a threader.3. It appears that John later worked as a plate layer but, in November 1904, he enlisted for 12 years - 9 Active, 3 in the Reserve - with the
West Riding Regiment. After basic training in Halifax and some time in York, he was posted to India, traveling on the SS Plassy and arriving in February 1916. In November 1910,
he became a bandsman with his regiment, continuing in India until he returned to England in 1913 and was transferred to the Reserve in February of that year4. Meanwhile, the rest
of the family had moved to 59 Wimbourne Road, Radford, Nottingham, from where Samuel continued to work in the lace trade5.
As a reservist, John was mobilised immediately - on 5 August 1914 - when war broke out, and recalled to Halifax. There he joined 2nd Battalion which had been recalled from Dublin and was now sent
to France as part of 13th Brigade, 5th Division, landing at Le Havre on the 16th August. It saw action almost immediately, taking 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 war. 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. There were further heavy casualties in April and May 1915 - a total of over 770 officers and men - during fierce fighting for Hill 60, south of Ypres, during which
the battalion faced chlorine gas and vicious hand-to-hand fighting. It had been a terrible introduction to the realties of the Western front for both novice and experienced soldiers alike. For John, who
had suffered a relatively minor wound to his left hand in October 1914, the contrast with life as a bandsman in India must have been particularly stark6.
In January 1916, the battalion was transferred to 4th Division and built up its numerical strength for what was ahead. From July 1916 the battalion took part in the Battle of Albert and, in October was part
in the Battle of Le Transloy which took place in increasingly worsening weather with heavy rain causing dreadful conditions in the trenches and the battlefield generally. Increasingly cold temperatures added
to the utter discomfort of the troops. The battle was planned to build on the gains that had been made in the Thiepval area but the attacks faced determined enemy formations defending relatively
fresh ground which compared starkly with the mud and destruction of the British lines and the area over which the advances were to be made. In a major attack on the 12th October, 2nd Battalion was part of
4th Division's attack, launched at 2:05pm, preceded by a mortar bombardment. Troops from the battalion, along with some from 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers did reach their initial objective but attempts to continue
were repulsed. Overall, by the end of the day, it became clear that the action had failed and survivors unable to retreat, facing continuous enemy machine-gun fire, were forced to dig-in and try to survive in
no man's land until the next day. It appears that it is during these hours that Corporal Cudworth, who had been promoted just two weeks earlier, was badly injured7.
Surviving documents within his Service Record give the date of his injuries as 13 October, probably based on the date that he was recovered from the battlefield after lying injured for some time. He would have
received whatever emergency treatment that was possible from the aid post in the trenches, usually from a Medical Officer and his team of orderlies. From there, he would have been moved to a dressing station,
positioned reasonably away from the front line. Here. more specialist medical teams did their best to stabilise the injured man and, where considered necessary, arranged for transfer to a Casualty Clearing
Station, a well equipped, more static facility, usually located several miles behind the line. Here, each casualty was further assessed and more complex treatments administered. After treatment, some may be able
to return to their unit. Some inevitably died and were buried in the cemeteries that evolved in the immediate area. Others were identified as so serious that they were evacuated to a base hospital from where
some would be returned to the United Kingdom for more treatment or convalescence8.
It is known that Corporal Cudworth was taken to Casualty Clearing Station 34, then situated at Grove Town at Meaulte in the Somme area. There, on 14 October, he was diagnosed as having a gunshot wound to his
right arm, a compound fracture and perforation of the abdomen. On 17th October, he was moved to 11 Stationary Hospital, one of several similar hospitals which together filled the whole of the race course site at Rouen.
Here, his injuries were recorded as including a gunshot wound to the face with a fracture of the lower jaw. The condition of his right arm was such that it had to be amputated. He was assessed as dangerously ill.
Sadly, he died at 4.15pm on 1 November 19169.
Corporal Cudworth was buried in the nearby St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen. This extension to the adjacent original military cemetery, had been opened in September 1916 so he was amongst the first to be buried
there. It was to eventually to contain 8,346 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, ten of which are unidentified. There are also 328 burials from the 2nd World War and eight foreign national burials.
He was posthumously awarded the 1915 Star (with Clasp), the Victory Medal and the British Medal10. His Army financial effects of £9 19s 1d were paid to his mother as the sole legatee under the terms of his
Soldier's Will, on 16 April 1917 and she received her son's War Gratuity of £13 10s on 1 October 191911.
1The photograph of Faubourg d'Amiens Cemetery is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was registered in Basford Registration District (of which Beeston was part) in Q4/1886 (Ref 7b 181).
3Beeston, Notts : 1901 Census, Piece 3153 Folio 30
John's siblings were Emma (b. c1889), Lily (b. c1892), George (b. c1894), Rose (b. c1896) and Albert (b. c1897).
4Details from his Army Service Record which is available on ancestry.com. He is included in the 1911 Census, H.M. Forces in India (Piece 34989)
5Radford, Nottingham, 1911 Census, Piece 20622 RD430 SD4 ED30 Schedule 147.
6The 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
7As the battalion's war diary does not appear to have survived, the account of its involvement in The Battle of Le Transloy is derived from that on the Wiki page (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Le_Transloy) and the CWGC account of the battle
8A more complete description of the evacuation chain is at www.longlongtrail.co.uk/soldiers/a-soldiers-life-1914-1918/the-evacuation-chain-for-wounded-and-sick-soldiers.
9Details of his injuries and movement through the evacuation chain are contained in his Service Record.
10John's medal awards are partly recorded on his Medal Card (available on ancestry.com) and further clarified in his Service Record.
11Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929, available on ancestry.com
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