Cuthbert was born on 5 July 1893 at 143 Stockport Road, Cheadle. He was the son of Stephen and Mary Elizabeth Ashton. Stephen owned several properties and let them as houses. A descendent recently tells this website that his mother attended St Cuthbert’s Church in Cheadle and he was named after the Saint.
Nothing is known of his early life but by the time of the Great War, the family had moved to Hazel Grove. Cuthbert was working as a porter and shunter at Stockport Station, working for the London & North Western Railway Ltd.
He was one of six brothers who served during the War and had travelled to Newcastle on Tyne to enlist. It’s not known why he travelled so far but must have had a clear intention to join this Territorial Battalion of the Regiment. In January of 1916, he was still in training at Morpeth. At the time, his brother, Percy, who had emigrated to Canada, had returned and joined the Army Medical Corps. Reginald had also emigrated, to Australia, and was serving with its forces. Stephen was with the Royal Marine Light Infantry aboard the battleship HMS Iron Duke (and would later lose part of his leg). Norman was in training at Barrow with the Lancashire Fusiliers. The sixth brother, Clarence, had recovered from an earlier wound and rejoined the Sherwood Foresters. They had three sisters – Beatrice, Ann and Amy.
Cuthbert died at No. 1 General Hospital from wounds he had received in action. Etretat is a seaside town some twenty five kilometres north of Le Havre and was one of many set up well behind the lines along the Channel coast. It cannot be said with any certainty when Cuthbert was injured. By the end of October, the Battle of the Somme was drawing to a close after nearly four months of hard fighting. For most of the month the 6th Battalion was in reserve providing working parties and it is possible that he was injured during this time. Prior to that, the Battalion had been in action on 1 October when it was in support of an attack near the village of Flers.
Some further information about Cuthbert may be found in the book “Hazel Grove to Armageddon” by John Eaton.