CUMMING, John Currie

NAME:   John Currie CUMMING            098

SERVICE NO: 1497

YEAR OF BIRTH: 1888

PLACE OF BIRTH:  Stawell

DATE OF ENLISTMENT:  28 July 1915

PLACE OF ENLISTMENT:  Melbourne

AGE AT ENLISTMENT: 26 Years and 11 months

UNIT: 3rd Australian Machine Gun Squadron (Late 8th Light Horse Regiment)

EMBARKED:  21 October 1915

TROOPSHIP:  SS Hawkes Bay

FATE:   Killed in Action,  31 October 1917 Palestine.

BURIED: Beersheba Cemetery, Grave Ref: D.22.

 

JOHN CURRIE CUMMING. Photo courtesy of Sue Healy.

JOHN CURRIE CUMMING. Photo courtesy of Sue Healy.

John Currie Cumming was born in 1888, one of four children of Thomas Cumming and Helen Currie.  Thomas Cumming worked in the mines when he first arrived in Stawell but by 1900 was appointed caretaker of the Stawell Borough Waterworks flume, based at Borough Huts, just out of Halls Gap.  

On the 1909 and 1914 Electoral Rolls, John Cumming gave his occupation as bee farmer, however on his attestation paper at enlistment he gave his occupation as labourer.  An article about John in the Stawell Times of 14 November 1917 gave his occupation as assistant caretaker at the Stawell Borough Waterworks.

"Private John Gumming." Stawell News and Pleasant Creek Chronicle (Vic. : 1914 - 1918) 5 Aug 1915: 2. Web. .

“Private John Gumming.” Stawell News and Pleasant Creek Chronicle (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 5 Aug 1915: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article129494041

John enlisted on 28  July 1915 and joined the 8th Light Horse, 12 Reinforcements and he left Australia on 21 October 1915 for Egypt.

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JOHN CURRIE CUMMING (Centre). Photo Courtesy of Sue Healy.

On 27 January 1916 John’s father Thomas passed away at Stawell.  Through the Stawell Town Clerk, John’s mother Helen inquired to the Defence Department regarding her entitlement to a pension should anything happen to John.

Image courtesy of the National Archives of Australia B245

Image courtesy of the National Archives of Australia B245

 

From the 8th Light Horse, John went on to the Imperial School of Instruction in April 1917 for machine gun training.  On completion, John joined the 3rd Australian Light Horse Machine Gun Squadron formed from machine gunners from the 8th, 9th and 10th Light Horse.

 

3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade Machine Gun Squadron at Khurbetha-Ibn-Harith. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. B01489 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/B01489/

3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade Machine Gun Squadron at Khurbetha-Ibn-Harith. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. B01489 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/B01489/

By 31 October 1917, allied troops were gathering to take Beersheba including the 3rd Machine Gun Battalion.  They were waiting at Tel al Saba not far from Beersheba with light horse regiments and New Zealand regiments.  At around 5.00pm, just as the regiments were given the order to begin the move forward, an enemy plane flying at low altitude bombed those below with the 8th and 9th Light Horse Regiment, the New Zealand regiment and the accompanying 3rd Machine Gun Battalion suffering the heaviest losses.  Among those killed was John Currie Cumming of Halls Gap, taken on the wedding anniversary of his parents Thomas and Helen, married thirty-five years earlier.

John was buried there at Tel al Saba but later reinterred at the Beersheba War Cemetery in late 1919.

After John’s death, word soon reached home and a tribute published two weeks later in the Stawell News and Pleasant Creek Chronicle on 14 November 1917.  

"WAR CASUALTIES." Stawell News and Pleasant Creek Chronicle (Vic. : 1914 - 1918) 14 Nov 1917: 3. Web. .

“WAR CASUALTIES.” Stawell News and Pleasant Creek Chronicle (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 14 Nov 1917: 3. Web. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article129494041&gt;.

 

ONLINE RESOURCES

Australian Light Horse Study Centre – 3rd Light Horse Machine Gun Squadron

Australian War Memorial- Roll of Honour – John Currie Cumming

Australian War Memorial – War Diary of the 3rd Light Horse Machine Gun Squadron – 31 October 1917

Australian War Memorial – WW1 Embarkation Rolls – John Currie Cumming.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission – Beersheba War Cemetery – John Currie Cumming

Discovering Anzacs – War Service Record – John Currie Cumming.

Great War Forum – he Beersheba Air-raid -31 October 1917

Newspaper articles from Trove – John Currie Cumming

The AIF Project – John Cumming

 

 

 

 

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