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© Barns Green - A Local History of The Great War 2014
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Charles George Cummins (1896-1917) - Pte 2473 Eaton Bty Canadian Machine Gun Corps. Charles   Cummins ,   born   18 th    January   1897,   was   one   of   the   three   children   of   Charles   and   Harriet   Emily   Cummins   (nee   Widdens)   and   their   only son. By   1911   Charles,   his   two   sisters   and   his   mother   were   living   in   Barns   Green   where   his   mother   was   working   as   a   laundress   and   Charles,   having   just   left school,   was   working   as   a   domestic   house   boy.   Charles   was   however   obviously   intent   on   bettering   himself   and   on   4 th    April   1914   he   embarked   alone, aged   just   17,   on   the   Empress   of   Britain   outbound   from   Liverpool   for   Halifax,   Nova   Scotia.   The   war   was   then   to   destroy   whatever   plans   Charles   had been making. As   the   senior   Dominion   of   the   British   Empire,   Canada   was   automatically   at   war   as   soon   as   Britain   had   made   the   declaration   and   the   Canadian Government   began   immediate   recruitment   for   the   Canadian   Overseas   Expeditionary   Force.   Many   British   born   Canadians   were   quick   to   join   up   and Charles   was   one   of   these,   signing   his   attestation   papers   on   the   11 th    December   1914   –   less than 8 months after he had arrived in the country. By   this   time   however   he   had   established   himself   as   a   mechanic   and   as   such   was   a   prime candidate   for   the   Canadian   Machine   Gun   Corps   and   was   posted   to   the   Eaton   Motor
The Fallen
Machine   Gun   Battery.   This   was   a   unit   of   what   were   essentially   armoured   cars   equipped with   machine   guns   and   got   their   name   from   the   fact   that   Sir   John   Eaton,   a   wealthy Canadian   department   store   owner,   had   contributed   some   $100,000   for   the   purchase   of 15   of   the   40   vehicles   in   the   unit.   The   Battery   left   Toronto   in   Jun   1915,   was   strengthened and   reformed   in   England   through   the   rest   of   that   year   and   landed   in   France   on   the   25 th   February 1916 where it became part of the 3 rd  Canadian Division.
The   3 rd    Canadian   Division   fought   in   the   Battles   of   the   Somme   in   1916   and   in   the   Arras offensive   in   the   spring   of   1917   and   the   Eaton   Battery   War   Diary   for   May   1917   records   the unit as being encamped at Camblaine l’Abbe near Arras. It     was     here     that     the     final     irony     of     Charles     Cummins     short     life     occurred.     The Commonwealth   War   Grave   Commission   simply   records   his   death   on   the   31 st    May   1917; the   War   Diary   records   that   this   was   not   as   a   result   of   any   enemy   action   but   of   injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident two nights before on the 28 th . Charles   died   in   a   Casualty   Clearing   Station   and   is   buried   in   the   Bruay   Communal   Cemetery   Extension,   Pas   de   Calais,   France.   He   is   remembered   on the Itchingfield War Memorial and on the family grave in Itchingfield Churchyard. He   would   have   been   awarded   campaign   medals   for   his   service   but   at   the   time   of   writing   the   details   of   these   are   unavailable   as   they   form   part   of his unreleased Canadian service record .