Rank: Gunner
Number: 187102
Unit: D Battery, 256th Brigade ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY
Date of Death: 17 July 1917
Age: 36
Cemetery: Poperinghe New Military Cemetery, Poperinge, Belgium

When the 1901 census was taken, the Cumston family was living at 58 Aidenfield Street, Stockport. William Cumston, then 49, worked as a gas stoker and was married to Annie. Several of their children were at home – William, John, Annie, Florence and Harry – but there is no mention of James and it has not been possible to identify him on the census living elsewhere.

Two years later, on 11 April 1903, James was certainly in Stockport as he got married that day. His wife was Esther Herons who lived at 18 Bay Street with her father, George. The service was at St Thomas’ Church. James recorded his occupation as a carter. The couple lived at 27 Union Street and would have two children together.

256th Brigade was a prewar Territorial unit drawing most of original members from around Dundee. James will have joined it as a replacement for casualties but it is not known when. As was required, the Brigade maintained a War Diary of daily activities. This is now held at the National Archives but several months are missing. As such, it cannot be known what happened to James or, even, where the Brigade was on the day he was killed. The Cemetery where he is buried is some miles behind the front line of the time and would have been reasonably safe. It was, however, still shelled by German long range artillery from time to time. Of course, the Brigade may have been coming away from the front line when he was killed and his mates brought his body with them.

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