Clarence Edward Cummins
† Cummins, Private Clarence Edward Vincent no.6664 19th Battalion.
Born at Canterbury 1898, son of Edward and Mary Jane Cummins, later of 36 Swansea Street, Erskineville.
Educated at Newtown Superior Public School.
Enlisted (1) at Sydney; (2) at Warwick Farm 14/1/1917, aged 18.
Next of kin, mother, Mary Jane Cummins.
Killed in action at Messines 27/3/1918, aged 19 years 4 months.
Memorial: Villers-Bretonneux Memorial
AWM File JDRL428 Letters to the Red Cross re Australian servicemen:
Private A.I. Jackson no.6575 19th Battalion, no.5 Southern General Hospital, Milton Secton, Portsmouth. Home address: Canterbury Road, Chapel Street, Lakemba, NSW. London, 29/5/1918. We were in no. 7 Advance Post at Messines March 27 when about seven Germans came over. They shot two of the Post, Cummins being one of them. He was killed outright. He was buried near the RAP at Messines. I was on the right of the Platoon at the time with a Lewis Gun. Private Tasker C Company 9th Platoon was on the Post and told us about it. Cummins belonged to C Company 9 Platoon. We were holding the ground. Description: Very young. Rather gingery hair, freckled, only just out of Hospital. Known as “Cumme”.
Private S. Roberts no.6613 B Company 19th Battalion, St John’s Hospital, Cheltenham. Home address: Hardy Street, South Ashfield, 31/5/1918: Killed by a bullet through the head by a raiding party on our trenches and was buried in the cemetery by dressing station in Messines itself Being a Signaller and at HQ I heard this in the orderly room when reported to the office.
Private H. Cohen no.6540, no. 11 Convalescent Camp, Buchy, near Rouen, 3/6/1918: I saw Cummins get killed at Messines on or about the date named during a German raid. It was in our front line consisting of our outposts - the trench we were in was about 150 yards long. Fritz attacked at one end with Minnewerfers and we crowded at the other end, then he dropped one on the wire in the end we were crowded in, and suddenly half a dozen Fritzs rushed over the broken wire, emptied their revolvers and rifles into our trench and disappeared. One of these shots got Cummings through the head. I was 30 yards away at the time - it was about 6pm and 1 saw him fall quite distinctly. About an hour later I passed close to him and saw the wound through the centre of his forehead. Cummings’s initials were CEV and his number near mine. He came from Newtown, Sydney. He sold newspapers on Newtown Bridge and did a bit of boxing. He was an only son and had two or three sisters. He came over with me in the 19th in the “Wiltshire ” leaving Sydney 5/2/1917. I got some postcards later from his haversack which I handed to the Sergeant, who said he had some more of his effects and would send them all home.
PrivateF.J. Carrno.6535 19thBattalion, Harefield, London, 3/6/1918: He was in a sap with me near Messines at about 7pm (dark) towards the end of March when about six Germans jumped over and one of them shot him and another man dead with a revolver. He was taken out and buried near the Dressing Station. About 5 *6" and 21 and came over with the 19th Reinforcements. Belonged to C Company XI Platoon.
Private J. Carey 19th Battalion, Tooting Green Military Hospital, London, 4/6/1918: During March 1918 at Messines, he was in a trench and was killed instantly by explosion of a shell. I was told this by several of the men who saw it happen. The ground was held. Description: About 5 ’5 ”, fair, used to do a little boxing. He was in 11 Platoon.
Private A.B. Chappie no.3773 C Company, no. 16 General Hospital, LeTreport, 11/6/1918: I was with him in an advanced post at Messines in March. The Germans put a Minnenwerfer barrage on us and followed over after it and shot him dead through the heart. He was buried.
Private T.E. Mills no.6674 19th Battalion, Hospital Ship: I saw him after he was killed... during a raid by the Germans who rushed the post where he was. I saw him buried the next night. He was a little chap, dark, came from Newtown.
Private F.J. Corr no. 6535 C Company 19th Battalion, D Ward, George’s Heights Military Hospital, Mosman: About 5 ’6", rather slight build, sandy complexion, aged about 2 1 ... Battalion was holding the line at Wameton near Messines. Cummins was in a post about 50 yards to the right o f me and I could not see him. About 6pm a German patrol came over to Cummins post thinking it was unoccupied. At the time the men in the post were standing to and one of the patrol killed Cummins instantly with a revolver, the shot going right through his pocket book. I did not see this happen but was given the details by one of Cummins's mates. He, however, saw the pocket book and also his grave just behind a Dressing Station alongside a pillbox, about 5-600 yards away from where he was killed. (Informant handed me the attached group photo in which Cummins appears, which perhaps the relatives would like to have. According to informant, Cummins was well liked by his mates.)
Private l.Palmer no.6604 19th Battalion, no.4 AGH, Randwick, 28/11/1918: I knew Cummins well. He came on the Wiltshire 7/2/1916. He was 5 '5", fair, clean shaven ... Sergeant Bradley told me he had seen him at the Dressing Station just before he was buried Corporal Madden (6645) now dead told me that he had seen Cummins’s wallet that had been taken off him after his death.
Australian War Memorial record available at: https://www.awm.gov.au/people/rolls/R1867704/ [accessed 25/11/2016]
The foundation of the information on this page was copied from the prize winning publication Canterbury's boys : World War I & Sydney's suburban fringe. This book is the culmination of 12 years (1988-2000) research by a team of volunteers from Canterbury and District Historical Society led by Dr Lesley Muir. Without this team's effort and dedication and the Society's willingness and support, this information would not be available today.
An uneditable version of the book boys : World War I & Sydney's suburban fringe is in the eBook section of this wiki. In the main section, there is an alphabetical list of the 1,911 names in the book with a link to the biography copied from the book about each individual. The alphabetical list is titled Canterbury's Boys list. The biographical files are editable, created to provide the space for descendants, historians, researchers, etc to contribute any further information, photographs, newspaper articles, memories, etc. they may have discovered so it is available for this and future generations.
Canterbury's boys : World War I & Sydney's suburban fringe. Edited by Lesley Muir. Campsie, N.S.W. : Canterbury and District Historical Society, 2002