WW1 Casualty: Sergeant 16978 James Cundill -
Sergeant 16978 James Cundill
Prescot Reporter 27/10/1916
||8th Bn., South Lancashire Regiment
|Date of Death
||Age at Death
Lonsdale Cemetery, Authuile
III M 9
|CWGC Family Details (if shown)
||Husband of Elizabeth Shingler (formerly Cundill), of The Stanley Arms, 52, New Cross St., St. Helens, Lancs.
||1891 Census -
James lived at 72 Cyril Street, Eccleston, with his parents Thomas, a 38 year old Plate Layer, and Maria (38). He also had an elder sister, Charlotte, aged 18. James, aged 13, is recorded as a labourer at a brickworks.
1911 Census -
The Cundill family lived at 1, Duke Street, Prescot. James, a 33 year old Pavior and his wife Elizabeth (26) had been married for a year and had a daughter Clara, aged 3 months. James was a native of Hull.
||Birth Registered Q2/1878, Hull, 9d, 251
Marriage to Elizabeth Atherton, Q4/1909, Prescot, 8b, 1051
|SDGW – Where Born
||St Helens, Lancs
||Killed In Action
||Theatre of War
||France & Flanders
||Brother of Thomas Edgar Rufford Cundill
|Research Ref. No.
The 8th Battalion of the South Lancashire regiment was formed soon after the outbreak of war in 1914, part of the third batch of 100,000 recruits asked for by Lord Kitchener..
James Cundill was aged 36 years and 11 months when he attested for military service on 23rd February 1915 in Warrington. He stated that he had previous military service with the Coldstream Guards, his conduct being marked as “Very Good”.
His records show that he stood 5ft 7 ¾ inches in height and had a 36 inch chest measurement, expandable by 3 inches. He noted that his next of kin was his wife Elizabeth, of 22 Columbia Road, Prescot. They had been married on 18th December 1909 in Prescot. Their only child, Clara, was born on 30th December 1910 in Prescot. James was a Pavior by trade.
Private Cundill was posted to the 8th Battalion of the South Lancashire Regiment on 12th March 1915 with a temporary rank of Lance Corporal. Other promotions followed:- Temporary Corporal on 18th June 1915, then Lance Sergeant on 24th September 1915.
The Battalion trained on Salisbury Plain before embarking for France on 28th September 1915, being initially based in Armentieres The battalion didn't take part in any significant operations for the rest of 1915, other than ordinary, if uncomfortable, tours of duty in the trenches of the Ploegsteert sector.
James Cundill’s temporary promotion to Sergeant was made permanent on 6th February 1916 whilst based in France. On 12th June 1916, he had a week’s leave in England, returning to France on 19th.
In mid-1916, the battalion prepared for its role in the Somme offensive. They were part of the reserve and did not become involved in the battle until 8th July, when they were tasked with taking the enemy trenches south of Ovillers.
They advanced at 4 a.m. and took the German trenches without much opposition, pushing on as the day progressed into the German 2nd and 3rd lines of trenches. The battalion stayed in the line until the 17th July, when they were relieved and moved back to Senlis for a period of rest. They went back into the line on 31st at Beaumont Hamel, but this was quickly followed by an extended period out of the lines until 27th August.
They were sent back into the line in an area known as the "Leipzig Salient", parts of which the Germans were holding tenaciously. The battalion was detailed to attack a position on the Thiepval Spur, starting at 4 p.m. on the 28th.
Under cover of an intense bombardment, the leading companies went steadily forward in two waves. One company was shattered by a German counter-barrage just before it reached its objective, the CO being killed and all other officers wounded. Another company reached the enemy trenches but was bombed out with heavy casualties. The resistance was too strong and further assaults in this sector were abandoned.
Sgt. Cundill was killed in these attacks. He now rests in Lonsdale Cemetery, into which many casualties of this and other smaller assaults were brought in the post-war concentration of cemeteries.
On 16th May 1917, the War Office wrote to the regimental records office at Shrewsbury to say that any personal effects of Sergeant Cundill should be returned to his widow, Elizabeth, who was now living at 16, Bank Street, St. Helens. It’s not clear exactly when she moved from Columbia Road, or if the move was permanent.
The records office also wrote to Mrs. Cundill in September 1919, stating that in order for the Memorial Plaque and Scroll to be delivered to the correct address, she should write to confirm these details, which she did.
On 31st March 1920, Elizabeth, still living at the St. Helens address, wrote to the Army Records Office acknowledging receipt of His Majesty’s letter covering the dispatch of a memorial scroll.
Sergeant Cundill’s medals (the 1914-15 Star, Victory Medal and British War Medal) were issued to Elizabeth on 17th March 1921. By this time, her address was recorded as the Lorne Hotel, 60 Parr Street, St. Helens.
An extract from Sergeant Cundill’s records, showing the details of his re-burial at Lonsdale after the war
The Parish Magazine of 24th September 1918 added to the list of honour a further set of names, including “Sergeant James Cundill of 8th South Lancs killed in action 28th April 1916”.
Sergeant Cundill’s Medal Index Card. He first arrived in France on 28th September 1915