Harry Cundiff, Private 34678, 8th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Died of dysentery 26th August 1916 in No 3 British General Hospital, Basra, aged 22
Harry Cundiff was born in Sutton in 1894, the eldest son of Susannah and Thomas Cundiff, landlord of the Lamb Inn, Sutton Lane Ends, near Macclesfield. In 1901, seven-year-old Harry was living at the Lamb Inn with his parents and siblings Maria (5), Arthur (3) and baby Lavinia (8 months). By 1911 Harry’s father had died, and his mother was running the Lamb Inn. Harry was employed as a block cutter (for silk printing) by Wm. Whiston & Sons at Langley Print Works, and by this time had another three siblings: Albert (9), Harold (7) and Roy (3).
Harry was educated at St James’ School in Sutton and attended St James’ Church, where he sang in the choir and was the organ blower. In his spare time he enjoyed fishing and was a member of the Victoria Angling Society, Macclesfield, winning many prizes in their competitions.
The family later moved to Church View, Sutton Lane Ends.
Harry enlisted in Macclesfield on 10 December 1915, joining the 3rd Cheshire Regiment. He stated that he was employed as a wood block cutter, and unmarried. In his service records, Harry was described as 5 feet 6¾ inches tall, weighing 135 pounds, with a 31½ inch chest.
Harry was sent to Birkenhead and Bidston for training, qualifying as a bomber, and was drafted to India. However, on arrival he was almost immediately sent to join the 8th Cheshire Regiment in the Mediterranean, leaving India on 4 August 1916. On the journey Harry became ill and was admitted to No 3 British General Hospital, Mesopotamia Expeditionary Force, Basra on 10 August 1916 suffering from acute dysentery. His medical notes state that “He ran a high and irregular temperature all the time and despite treatment with Emetine and Serum he slowly got worse and died on the 26-8-1916.”
His death was reported in the Macclesfield Times of 6 October 1916:
SUTTON SOLDIER’S DEATH – TOUCHING TRIBUTE FROM LANGLEY WORKMATES
The painful news that Private Harry Cundiff, Cheshire Regt, whose widowed mother resides at Church View Terrace, Sutton lane Ends, near Macclesfield, has died on active service, has cast a gloom over Sutton and Langley, where the young soldier was well-known and highly respected. Sad circumstances are associated with the case, as he was the eldest and main support of a family of seven, and deep sympathy is felt with Mrs Cundiff in her great trouble.
Official notification of his death has been received from the war Office, and the Matron of the No 3 British General Hospital, Mesopotamia Expeditionary Force, Basara [Basra], has written to the bereaved mother, under date 31st August: “You will have heard… that your son… died here on August 26th from dysentery. I thought that you would like to know a little about his last illness. He was admitted on August 10th, having been taken ill on board the ship while coming here from India, I believe. He was very ill from the beginning, though at one time he seemed to improve, and the sister and doctor had great hopes of his getting better. However, he seems to have had a relapse, from which he never recovered. He was a very good patient, never gave any trouble, and always did just what he was told. He had every care and attention. We want for nothing in Basara….”
Private Cundiff was 22 years of age last June. His father was the landlord of the Lamb Inn, Sutton, where he died suddenly five years ago, and Mrs Cundiff carried on the business until two months ago, when she went to reside at Church View. As stated, she was left with seven children – five boys and two girls – of whom deceased was the eldest. He was educated at St James’ School under Mr Buckley F. Moffatt, and upon leaving took up employment at Messrs. Wm. Whiston & Sons, Langley Print Works, where he had remained ever since. Last January he was called up under the Derby scheme and posted to the Cheshire Regt, and after training at Birkenhead and Bidston went out with a draft to India. Upon arrival the draft received orders to re-embark for Egypt, and on the way there the deceased was taken ill.
Private Cundiff formerly sang in the choir at St James’, where he was also the organ blower. He was extremely fond of fishing, which was his chief hobby, and as a member of the Victoria Angling Society, Macclesfield, he had won many prizes… While in the Army he signed the War Roll of the YMCA. His mother has received… [a] sympathetic message from her son’s colleagues in the cutting-rooms of the Langley Print Works… A letter of sympathy has also been sent by the Angling Society, and the Secretary (Mr A E Brown) states that ten members out of 30 are serving with the colours, Private Cundiff being the first to lose his life.
Locally, Private Harry Cundiff is commemorated on the Sutton (Walker Lane) war memorial, and Sutton (St James Church) roll of honour.
Brother of Arthur Cundiff, who served as Private 243792 with the 5th Cheshire Regt; and Albert Cundiff, who served as Private 64556 with the 16th Manchester Regt; both survived the war.
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births
Census (England & Wales): 1901, 1911
WWI British Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects
WWI British Army Service Records 1914-1920
WWI British Army Medal Rolls Index Cards
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
WWI Britain Absent Voters’ Lists
Macclesfield Times: 6 October 1916