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Cuthbert, J.H., Capt., D.S.O., 1915

Captain James Harold Cuthbert IWM Photo

Medal Index Card

Sydney Evening News 2nd February 1908

Illustrated Chronicle 1915

Captain James Harold Cuthbert's Uniform

On the Loos Memorial is the name of 34059 Captain James Harold Cuthbert, serving with the 1st Battalion Scots Guards, who died 27/09/1915.

James Harold Cuthbert was born on the 21st July 1876, at Melster, Pietermaritzburg, Natal, son of Sidney Cuthbert, [born 19th February 1851, died 9th June 1882], of Melster, Pietermaritzburg, [who was the second son of William Cuthbert, born 1813, died 29th November 1878], of Beaufront Castle, Hexham, Northumberland],* and his wife Frances Yates Griffin, daughter of J. Griffin, of Pietermaritzburg, Natal, South Africa. James was also godson to the late William Cuthbert, of Beaufront Castle, Hexham.

They had six children, James Harold Cuthbert, Mary Isola Cuthbert, [born 1878, died 1879], Sidney William Cuthbert, [born 28th April, 1882, died 26th February, 1902], Lily Ethelwyn Noel Edwards, Gladys Mary Heneage, and Dorothy Frances Cuthbert.

* William Cuthbert brothers and sisters were, Richard Cuthbert, Claude Arthur Cuthbert, Gerald James Cuthbert, Annie Green-Wilkinson, Mary Constance Slade, Fanny Isabella Anderson, Emily Arbuthnot, Alice Burn Cuthbert and Mary Sara Cuthbert.

James was educated at Sandroyd, then was in F. Drew's House, at Eton until 1894, then into Sandhurst Military College.

Whilst at Eton College he played Cricket for the House F. D., and he was regularly playing until 1894.

He went to Royal Military College at Sandhurst as a Gentleman cadet, he passed his qualifying examination at Sandhurst in the Senior Division in December 1895 with just a Passed result, and on the 11th August 1896 was made up to a 2nd Lieutenant.

On Saturday 7th May he is mentioned in the Army and Naval Gazette:- Scots Guards, J. H. Cuthbert promoted

He was promoted to Lieutenant on the augmentation of the forces when authorised on the 13th April 1898, dated 16th April 1898. On the 16th July 1898, Lieutenant James Harold Cuthbert is to record damages for the First Brigade, Scots Guards on the Brigade Headquarters staff.

Source :- Army Navy Gazette 1898.

At the Prince's Club Skating Ring at Knightsbridge on the 26th March 1898, Lieutenant J.H. Cuthbert was a member of the Niagara 2nd Team competing for the Prince's Club Challenge Cup. The Niagara's teams won the semi finals 3-2.

Morning Post dated Wednesday, 3rd August 1898, Lieut. C. E. Wyld, 1st Coldstream Guards, has been appointed Signalling and Military Compensation Officer of the 1st Brigade (Northern Army) for the Manoeuvres in place of Lieut, J.H. Cuthbert, 1st Scot Guards.

Captain James Cuthbert left for South Africa on the 21st October 1899 on the Nabia with the rest of the Scot's Guard Battalion officers from Southampton.

James joined the Scots Guards on the 12th August 1896. In the Morning Post Tuesday 12/10/1899, there is a Heading which reads "There is a very prevalent idea that the 2nd Coldstream and the 1st Scots Guards will embark for South Africa about Friday or Saturday of next week, and that about the same time the 3rd Grenadiers and 1st Coldstream will embark from Gibraltar with the officers of the staff of the Guard's Brigade."

J.H. Cuthbert is mentioned in the list of officers that are ready to embark.

He served in the South African War as an extra ADC to the GOC, in the 1st Division in the advance to Kimberley, and was involved at actions at Belmont, Enslin, Modder River and Magersfontein where his horse was shot under him, [Despatches], took part in operations in the Orange Free State, February to May 1900, including actions at Poplar Grove, Driefontein, Vet River [5th and 6th May], and Zand River; participated in operations in the Transvaal in May and June, 1900, including actions near Johannesburg, Pretoria and Diamond Hill, [11th and 12th June], in operations in the Transvaal, east of Pretoria, July to the 29th November, 1900, including action at Belfast, [26th and 27th August], operations in the Transvall, west of Pretoria, [July to 29th November, 1900], and in the Orange River Colony, [May to the 29th November], Operations in the Transvaal, [December 1900 to March 1902], also July 1901, Cape Colony in Dec.

He was mentioned in Despatches [London Gazette, 16th March, 1900]: "... Having shown considerable coolness in taking a message from Lord Methuen to the Gordon Highlanders", was created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order [London Gazette, 19th April, 1901]: "James Harold Cuthbert, Lieutenant, Scots Guards. In recognition of services during operations in South Africa". The Insignia were sent to the Commander-in-Chief, South Africa, and presented on the 14th August 1901.

On the 15th February 1902, Lieutenant James Cuthbert was discharged from hospital for work duties after recovering from being dangerously ill with enteric fever.

On the 20th March 1902, Lieutenant J.H. Cuthbert was now on the S.S. Roslin Castle, which left Cape Town for England as dangerously ill with Enteric Fever.

He was awarded the Queen's Medal with six clasps, Kings Medal with two clasps.

Was present at the coronation of King George V.

He won the Army Revolver Championship in 1904, and published "The 1st Battalion Scots Guards in South Africa, 1899-1902" History. Edited by Captain J. H. Cuthbert. By Harrison and Sons, 1903.

25th February 1905, Captain James Cuthbert resigned from the Army and was placed in the Reserve.

In March 1906 James and his wife visited Natal, and returned to Southampton from Durban on the 14th April on the "Armadale Castle" [Union-Castle Mail Steamship Company Ltd]. Perhaps he was showing his wife where he saw action?

He married (1st) Lady Anne Dorothy Frederica Cuthbert Byng, [born, 1881, Cranley Gardens, London, England, the third daughter of the Reverend Francis Edmund Cecil Byng, 5th Earl of Strafford], and Emily Georgina Kerr, at Wrotham Park Private Chapel, on the 24th September 1903. She was killed by her husband accidentally on a pheasant shoot on the 31st January 1907.

Sydney Evening News 02/02/1908, Shocking Shooting Accident. "A terrible accident occurred on Thursday at Beaufront Castle, Hexham, the residence of Captain J. H. Cuthbert, D.S.O. While a party was shooting over grounds of the castle Captain Cuthbert slipped, and his gun exploded. The shot struck his wife, Lady Dorothy Cuthbert, and killed her".

He then married Kathleen Alice Straker, eldest daughter of John Straker, of Stagshaw, Corbridge, Northumberland at Hexham Abbey on the 12th October 1908, they had three boys and one daughter. Major Harold David, born 11th September 1909, died 2nd July, 1959, [he was married to Bridget Sibyl Dearden, who was christened at Hexham Abbey on he 12th October 1909], Gerald Ivor, born 25th January 1912, died on the 14th May 1940, [He was a Flying Officer Pilot, Service No 90133, Royal Air Force, 607 Squadron, buried at Hotton War Cemetery], Sidney John, born on the 13th January 1914, and died 30th July 1944, [Service No 65937, Major, 3rd Battalion Scots Guard, buried at Hottot-Les-Bagues War Cemetery], and Vida Herbert born on the 24th December 1910.

Kathleen Alice Coppin-Straker was the daughter of John Coppin-Straker. [who is the son of John Straker and Isabella Coppin, who resided at Stagshaw House, Northumberland, England]. She married, firstly, Captain James Harold Cuthbert on the 12th October 1908. She married, secondly, Robert John Strutt, 4th Baron Rayleigh of Terling Place, son of John William Strutt, 3rd Baron Rayleigh of Terling Place and Evelyn Georgiana Mary Balfour, on the 8th July 1920. She died in 1980.

From the 12th October 1908, her married name became Cuthbert. She was invested as a Officer, Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.) in 1918. From the 8th July 1920, her married name became Strutt. As a result of her marriage, to Robert John Strutt, 4th Baron Rayleigh of Terling Place. Kathleen Alice Coppin-Straker was styled as Baroness Rayleigh of Terling Place on the 8th July 1920. They had a child called Hon. Guy Robert Strutt born on the 16th April 1921, died on the 9th February 2007.

Captain J. H. Cuthbert D.S.O. F.R.H.S., was a guest to open the Great Four Northern Counties Fruit Congress and Fruit Exhibition at the Hexham Town Hall on Thursday, 20th October 1910 at 2.45 pm. He was also appointed the High Sheriff of Northumberland in 1911, and a Justice of the Peace.

In November 1914, he was advertising to let Holly Hall farm at Corbridge to commence from the 12th May 1915. It was situated 2 and a half miles North of Corbridge, and contains 301 acres, of which 104 acres are arable (good barley and Turnip land), the remainder grass. The farm is well watered, and good house and buildings suitable. Offers in writing.

On the outbreak of the European War he re-joined the 1st Battalion Scots Guards (from the Reserve of Officers), on the 4th August 1914, where he was appointed adjutant to the Guards Battalion at Olympia, guarding interned men. On the 20th August was appointed Adjutant to the 2nd Battalion Irish Guards at Warley Barracks. There until the 31st March 1915, in France, on the 15th April, 1915. James re-joined the 1st Battalion Scots Guards. He was reported as wounded and missing on the 27th September 1915, and finally, on the 7th May 1917, was reported as having been killed on the 27th September 1915. He was mentioned in Despatches [London Gazette, 1st January 1916], by F. M. Sir John French [now Lord] French.

The Belfast News dated Wednesday, 6th October 1915, carried a report "Captain J. H. Cuthbert, D.S.O., Beaufrout Castle, Northumberland (wounded and missing), is a son-in-law of the Earl of Strafford through his marriage with the late Lady Dorothy Byng whose sister, Lady Joan Byng, is the widow of Captain Honourable A. E. S. Mulholland, Irish Guards, eldest son of Lord Dunleath, Ballywalter, County Down, who was killed in action last year."

Northern Echo dated Monday 4th October 1915. "News has reached Hexham that Captain J. Harold Cuthbert, D.S.O., of Beaufront Castle, is reported as wounded and missing. Captain Cuthbert, who won his D.S.O. in the South African War, was on the reserve of officers, and after the commencement of the war, re-joined the army, and was for some time adjutant to the Irish Guards in London. He, however, was attached to his old regiment-the Scots Guards-when they went out to the Front. Captain Cuthbert is a son-in-law of Mr John C. Straker, of the Leazes, Hexham, and has filled the office of High Sheriff of his county."

J.H. Cuthbert was also vice-president of the St Johns Ambulance Brigade. The Reverend Canon Edwin Sidney Savage, wrote in the Hexham Parish Magazine "All our deepest sympathies are with Mrs Cuthbert in her time of Trial. All who knew Captain Cuthbert knew that he would be heroic in the war wherever heroism was expected. It would be no surprise to us to learn that when last seen he was leading his men with stick in hand. As adjutant of the Irish Guards in England he was beloved by officers and men. Mr [John], Kipling and Mr Lawrence Straker were subalterns under him, and Mr [John], Kipling would be with when last seen. When Captain Cuthbert went to France it was with the old colours of South Africa, where he received his D.S.O. It was he, in association with his uncle General Gerald Cuthbert, who had so much to do officially with the laying-up of the colours of the Scots Guards in Hexham Abbey in 1910.. . . He was a man of alert brain, of lithe activity, of original thought, of strictest honour, and was endowed with the highest sense of duty. He was a gallant gentleman."

Source : Newcastle Journal Friday 5th November 1915.

Captain Cuthbert was killed at the Battle of Loos, whilst leading the Right Flank Company of which he was in command. He and a few men managed to reach Puits 14, along with a Second Lieutenant Crabbe and half a dozen Grenadiers, later reinforced by a platoon of the 3rd Grenadier Guards under Lieutenant Ayres-Ritchie. But under the intense enfilading fire from Hill 70 and Bois Hugo forest they had to pull back. A general retirement followed. The War Diary... shortly before 5pm the men in and beyond the PUITS commenced to retire, and fell back into and through CHALK PIT WOOD in some confusion. The C.O. and [the] Adjutant went forward through the wood to clear up the situation, and while going through the wood Capt. and [the] Adjutant the Honourable T. Vessey was wounded and carried away.

In this battle, 2nd Lieutenant, John Kipling, 2nd Battalion Irish Guards, born, 17th August 1897, died 27th September 1915, [son of Rudyard Kipling] was killed and his body was never found.

Kipling was the youngest of three children of the author Rudyard Kipling and his American wife Caroline Starr Balestier. He was born at "The Elms" at Rottingdean in Sussex, which was the Kiplings' home between 1897 and 1902. He was educated at Wellington College, Berkshire.

He was promoted lieutenant after his death.

James Cuthbert's grandson, [wrote to local author Alan Isaac Grint, when researching his book, The Faith and Fire Within in memory of the men of Hexham who fell in the Great War], and said it was his understanding that "his grandfather was last seen carrying the dead or dying John Kipling, but then disappeared amidst the German shelling".

Rudyard Kipling use to visit Beaufront Castle after the war to talk to James's wife about her husband and to honour his courageous act of comradeship towards his much loved son.

Source : The Faith and Fire Within, page 84, Published by Ergo Press, ISBN 0955275814, 2006. Robson Print.

James Cuthbert body was never found.

A Service of Remembrance was held in Hexham Abbey on Saturday May 12th 1917.

He left a will on the 19th November to the Public Trustee, the amount was 92,314 1s 8d.

Source : De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour Vol 2 page 89

James Harold Cuthbert is remembered at Hexham on H51.06, H51.26, H51.35 and H51.51

CWGC Headstone and story for what happened to Major John Sidney Cuthbert. Also see Fallen Heroes of Normandy

The Guards Division in WW1
The Battle of Loos
The CWGC entry for Captain Cuthbert

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