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WILLINGTON (Wear Valley)

Cross, J., Cpl., 1916
On the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme is the name of 24/608 Corporal John Cross serving with the Northumberland Fusiliers who died 01/07/1916.

Pauline Priano has submitted the following:-

John Cross was born in the district of Whitehaven, Cumberland, one of 3 known children he was the youngest of 2 sons and a daughter. His parents William Cross and Bridget Murray were both Irish immigrants born 1829 and 1839 respectively and were married in the district of Whitehaven in 1868. Their first born son James was born at Egremont in 1869, however they had moved to Cleator village by 1871 and had a further 2 children Ann 1872 and John in 1878. They spent a brief period at Cross Street, Arlecdon where William was employed as a labourer before returning to Church Street, Cleator as he was now working for the railway. Between 1891 and 1900 they had migrated to the north east and settled at Helmington Row, County Durham in the district of Bishop Auckland. It was here that John Cross was married during the 2nd quarter of 1900 to Mary Elizabeth Harvey, born at Howden in County Durham in 1877, unfortunately his mother Bridget Cross nee Murray died a few months later aged 61 years.

John and Mary Elizabeth settled at Low Yard, Helmington Row, where he was employed as a coal miner/hewer. By 1911 they had moved to 22, Wear Street, Willington, County Durham, his wife had given birth to 4 children of whom only 3 had survived, Rose Ann born in 1904, Charlotte 1906 and William 1908, just prior to the outbreak of war Francis was born 1914.

John Cross was one of the first to enlist in November 1914 at Bishop Auckland, County Durham, assigned to the 24th (1st Tyneside Irish) Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers as Private 608. The 24th was a Pals Battalion that after initial training near Newcastle-upon-Tyne joined the 103rd Brigade, 34th Division at Ripon in June 1915 and then on to Salisbury Plain for final training by August. January 3rd 1916 they received embarkation orders and by January 15th 1916 the Division had crossed to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force and concentrated at La Crosse east of St. Omer. They remained on the Western Front for the duration of the war and saw action on the Somme, at Arras and in Belgium.

The Northumberland Fusiliers participated during the opening battle on the Somme, July 1st 1916 during the Battle of Albert, at La Boisselle. The now Corporal 24/608 John Cross Northumberland Fusiliers was one of the 60,000 casualties of the day, dead or wounded.

His sacrifice is recorded as one of the 72,246 names inscribed on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, Thiepval, France, commemorating servicemen from Britain and South Africa killed on the Somme 1915-1918 who have no known grave. He was 38 years old.

His widow received all monies due to him, a pension for herself and their children and his awards of the British War Medal and Victory Medal, sent to her at 22, Wear Street, Willington, County Durham.

In Godís safe keeping. Rest In Peace.

John Cross is remembered at Willington on W120.02 and W120.06

The CWGC entry for Corporal Cross

If you know more about this person, please send the details to janet@newmp.org.uk