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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Private Cyril Cornes, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry


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This was him, or someone wearing his helmet?




There are four (4) others of the regiment in the cemetery in March-April 1918, so they must have been in the area?


Plot 2 Row E Grave 10:



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The service number on the boots doesn’t match that of Cornes 

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Agreed, but I have seen dozens of numbers on boots reported and I can not recall any that ever had anything to do with an identification. I could not make any sense of the 1/18 either - any ideas?


There were only 3 lost in France with that number and only one (1) was UBS.


Regardless, I think this one is a "no go" as I can not place the 9th Bn. K.O.Y.L.I. in that area (Heudecourt 57c.W.22) at that time. The others in the unit appear to be somewhere between Peronne (62c.I.) and Tincourt (62c.J.).


If the number is correct and the regiment is wrong, then in August 1916, Private Frank Gray #24439 (1st B., Northamptonshire Regiment) was probably in the area of Highwood, SW of Flers (57c.S.3 - 57c.S.8). Too far away to match remains found at 57c.W.22 near Heudecourt.

Edited by laughton
Pte. Gray link added
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There is no 18th Battalion of the King’s Own (Yorkshire Light Infantry)

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I'm wondering if the 1/18 was an issue date for the boots - January 1918. It was certainly a well known pre-war practice to do this to most kit so that levels of use/wear could be tracked.


Edited by Andrew Upton
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No Soldier who served in the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry who had the service number of 24439.  Search was carried out for numbers before that the number in question and als after, none were found in the number range.

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I looked at the details of the other four (4) men from the same regiment who were buried in the cemetery. They were all of the same battalion, or as in the case of Hutson, was attached to the 9th Battalion:


surname forename death rank unit # grave
CURTIS FREDERICK HERBERT 12-04-18 Private 9th Bn. '36593' III. A. 2.
HUTSON HAROLD 26-03-18 Second Lieutenant 10th Bn. attd. 9th Bn.   III. C. 5.
SMITH BEN 20-04-18 Private 9th Bn. '37043' III. A. 13.
STEELS ARTHUR 25-03-18 Private 9th Bn. '24838' III. C. 10.


I did not limit the search to the 9th Battalion, so that was all of them. That does suggest that the regiment and battalion is correct. I had that limited to March and April 1918, however when I removed that limitation, the results were the same.


If the search is repeated for the Regiment in that same period there are 858 responses. That drops to 251 if we stick with the 9th Battalion, of which 129 are in Belgium and 120 in France. Looks like they moved to Belgium in mid to late April 1918. We can drop the one in the UK and the other in Germany. The first death in Belgium was 4 April 1918, after which the majority were deaths in Belgium until 27 April 1918. The odd ones in France during that period may have died at a medical facility of some sort. I checked a number of those and that appears to be the case (ESQUELBECQ MILITARY CEMETERY, ARNEKE BRITISH CEMETERY, RUE-PETILLON MILITARY CEMETERY, FLEURBAIX). After Curtis was buried at VILLERS-FAUCON, the next burial was Booth in LE CATEAU MILITARY CEMETERY, which was clearly in German hands at the time and also a medical facility. A quick check of the ICRC Records confirms that he was a POW (https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Details/2534559/3/2/).


The odd ball in the pack is SMITH who is buried in III.A.13, so ahead of HUTSON and STEELS but he supposedly died a month later when they were in Belgium. There is no concentration report for that grave. A check of the GRRF documents suggests that date is in logical sequence with the others in that plot and row. That also shows that Plot 2 has later burials than Plot 3, so this all may be due to concentrations. The date for SMITH may be incorrect?


If we now move on to the recorded number 24439 we do find something interesting. There is a Corporal W. Dundervale on the Pozieres Memorial with the number 23439, so were they just incorrect on one digit? His date of death is 21 March 1918, the same day as Private Cyril Cornes - coincidence? It would not be the first time that we have seen dyslexic recording of names and numerals.


There are some missing records in the database, as a check of the GRRF shows that there are three other UNKNOWNS after 2.E.10 where our case man was buried. Is it possible that Dundervale and Cornes were found together and it was not possible to distinguish which items belonged with which remains?


I did check for any others that were found at 57c.W.22 and there are none on the COG-BR documents, which I currently believe are incomplete.


So for the moment, I say Corporal Dundervale and Private Cornes were together when they were killed in action and that they are probably buried near each other in the Villers-Faucon Communal Cemetery Extension. You would now have to assume that the remains in Plot 2 Row E Grave 10 are Corporal Dundervale, who either took Private Cornes steel helmet, or fell near it. That is easier to believe than Private Cornes taking Corporal Dundervale's boots, as they died the same day. That, of course, assumes the boots were on the skeleton when it was exhumed in January 1922 (or thereabouts).

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