Article by Douglas McMurtrie.

Although memorials to dead soldiers had been erected before World War One (“The Great War”), the end of this conflict saw the rapid emergence of war memorials and war graves of the fallen on a large scale. The inspiration for much of this came from Fabian Ware in 1914 and the beginnings of the Commonwealth (formerly Imperial) War Graves Commission. War graves in the places of significant battles (which included lists of many “unknown” soldiers), began to appear. Some temporary memorials were erected on the battlefield itself soon after a military engagement occurred (eg the “Bede” memorial after the battle of 2nd Ypres in 1915). Of those in northern France and Belgium, perhaps the most well- known is the Menin Gate in Ypres (Belgium), scene of three ferocious battles and enormous slaughter. Towns and villages in the United Kingdom soon began to erect their own commemorations. The most famous, of course, is the Cenotaph itself, in Whitehall, London, a plain monument in Portland stone, designed Sir Edwin Lutyens and unveiled by King George 5th on 11th November 1921, replacing an earlier, temporary, structure. The Scottish National War Memorial, Edinburgh Castle, was opened in 1927, an elaborate Cathedral like structure, in which the fallen are listed by regiment (and where, incidentally, there are ten of my WW1 namesakes). Why did this outpouring of commemoration occur? There are various reasons. In part it was due to the sheer scale of the casualties, almost a million, and few places in Great Britain and Ireland were not touched, and adversely affected, by the loss of their young men. In part, too, perhaps, some “war guilt” at the enormous cost in life, partly also the “other ranks” were far from illiterate. Compulsory primary education had been in existence since 1880 and the men frequently wrote home about their experiences. Call up or conscription, too, had been enacted from 1916.

The style of the monument varied enormously, from simple boards with names, or of gardens, and from crosses to elaborate statues of one or more soldiers, and sometimes civilians, or angelic beings. Brandon, for example, is in the form of a plain obelisk. St Cuthbert’s Church, North Road, Durham is the Lychgate. St Giles, Durham has a Celtic Cross, and St Oswald’s a tall slender column with a crucifix and a canopy. At Stanley Crook a statue of “sorrow, holding a wreath” surmounts the memorial. Usually, annual commemoration services are held at these shrines on the Sunday nearest to 11th November. Nor are those who survived (and who suffered physical and mental disabilities) forgotten. The Royal British Legion has its “poppy day” and the symbol of the poppy itself has an honourable history.

The monument at Neville’s Cross is one of the simpler erections. The first contemporary newspaper to mention it was the Durham Advertiser of 10th December 1920 which showed a photograph and recorded that it was 8 feet high, and that a subscription of over £100 was raised towards the cost. The “Durham Chronicle” of Friday 7th October 1921, features the unveiling of the parish memorial.

The article is entitled “NEVILLE’S CROSS HEROES.”
“In the presence of some hundreds of relatives, friends and parishioners, the memorial cross erected to the 18 brave souls who made the supreme sacrifice in the Great War was unveiled and dedicated on Sunday afternoon” (2nd October 1921). “The memorial is in the form of a Celtic cross, in grey, rustic granite, with stone face, and stands in the grounds of St John’s Church” (author’s note: I have not yet traced the designer of the cross, nor the source of the granite. If anyone has this information, let me know). “The inscription reads “To the glory of God and in honour to the brave men killed in the Great War 1914 – 1919.”
“The following names are engraved: Charles Y. Adamson, George W. Appleton, Joseph Bowman, M.M., Charles H. Broome, Richard W. Brown, Edward Carter, John Coatham, William Culbert, James C. Elliott, Robert H. Elliott, Wilfred Elliott, Joseph D. Mobbs, Joseph Morgan, Frederick Phillips, John Rowland, John W. Scarth, John H. Shepherd, and Robert Todd.”

(These names are on the north side, and further on I shall provide information about as many of them as possible. ( 2nd World War names are on the opposite side and hopefully will also be researched )

“The cross has been erected by public subscription at a cost of £110, and Sunday’s deeply impressive ceremony was participated in by representatives of practically all major denominations. Those present included Alderman S. Galbraith M.J., Mr and Mrs J. Dawson, the Rev R. Watson, R.D. (rector), the Rev C. J. Thurlow, M.A., (vicar of St Stephen’s, South Shields, and a former curate-in- charge of St. John’s), the Rev J.G.M. Collier (curate in charge), the Rev H. Painter Boase (superintendent Wesleyan minister), the Rev W.A,H. Gall (Presbyterian minister), Mr and Mrs W.B. Kerrich Walker, Mr G.H. Leatham (chairman of the Memorial Scheme Committee), Mr J.W. Ditchburn (hon. Treasurer), Mr Fred Heron (hon. Secretary), and Mrs Heron, Mr W.T. Brown, Mr R.S. Metcalfe, Mr R. Rowland, Mr F. Webster, Mr H.S. Harrison, Mr S. Veitch, Mr J.J. McGregor, Mr and Mrs Ashcroft, Mr W.S. King, Mr A.V. Yockney, and Mr and Mrs J.T. Elliott. The Rev J.S. Nightingale (superintendent of the Durham P.M. Circuit) was unable to attend. The service opened with the singing of the hymn “Through all the changing scenes of life.”

The speeches were reported too. First, by Mr G.H. Leatham, acknowledging the debt to the fallen, and the duty of those who remained to prove that they were worthy of the great sacrifice. Then Mrs A.J. Dawson removed the union flag and unveiled the cross, and lilies placed at its foot. The dedication ceremony was performed by Rev C.J.Thurlow. He remarked that almost all the fallen were well known to him during his years of ministry at Neville’s Cross. Prayer was offered by Rev R. Watson and the congregation sang the hymn “O God, our help in ages past.” This was followed by a short address from Rev. Painter Boase who also read out the names of the deceased. The congregation then sang the hymn “Abide with me” followed by buglers sounding the Last Post and The Reveille, and concluding with the Benediction. Note: The unveiler, Mrs Dawson was the wife of the County’s Director of Education. It was unusual at the time for a woman to perform this honour.


The following is an attempt to give as much biographical detail as possible on each one of the fallen. A summary of the death details is given first. This is followed by details of the family, unless otherwise stated, from the Census of 1911. Some additional material has come from the 1922 Durham City Yearbook and Post Office Directory (available in the City Library). There are some gaps. Families may have moved during the time between the Census of 1911 and the military service of the deceased. The contemporary newspaper “The Durham Chronicle” had, during the war, daily lists of casualties and some photographs. Research continues which may result in additional material or changes. Even the competence of the author with computer technology may improve matters! Any further information relating to these men would be welcomed by the author. (Sadly, Douglas has died but if you have further information, please select Website Team on the ‘Contact Us’ page in the ‘About Us’ section.

Full name, Charles Young Adamson, was a captain in the 8th battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers and was killed in Salonika, Greece on 7th September 1918 aged 43, during the final conflict for the control of the region between the Entente forces (Serbia, France, Great Britain, Italy and Greece) against Austria, Bulgaria and Turkey. A ceasefire was arranged for 30th September 1918, when the battalion was at Strumica, north west of Lake Doiran in Macedonia. He is buried in Karasouli Military Cemetery and listed on the Durham City Hall memorial. There is an obituary to him in the “Durham Chronicle” of 10th September 1918.

He was born in 1875, his parents lived for some time at “The Cottage” in Neville’s Cross (probably “Neville’s Cross Cottage” on the 1896 map, demolished to make way for the road bypass in the 1950s). His father was from Wisconsin, United States of America. Charles went to Durham School, and was an outstanding rugby player. He was a stockbroker, married to Catherine or Katherine and lived in Nevilledale. They had children; Charles aged 4 in 1911 and John Alfred aged 2. Katherine Adamson was still living at 28 Nevilledale in 1922. According to the accounts of older members of the Durham community, the sons of Charles Adamson played an important part in Durham school life.

George Appleton, private in the 6h Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers died on 11th September 1916 aged 24, during the later phase of the Somme offensive, prior to the Flers Courcelette battle, and is buried in Bazentine-le-Petit Communal Cemetery extension.

He lived in Neville’s Cross at 5 Cross View, the son of John George and Elizabeth Appleton. He was born in Byers Green, aged 18 in 1911 and a grocer’s apprentice. Other members of the family at that time were his father aged 48, a miner’s stonemason, his mother Elizabeth Orton aged 50, his sister Edith aged 13 born in Darlington. In 1922 an H. Appleton lived in Malvern Villas.

Joseph Bowman, number 24772, was a corporal in 13th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry. Died of wounds on 5th November 1917 he was awarded the Military Medal. He is buried in Mount Houn Military Cemetery, Le Treport. (He is mentioned in Wilfred Miles’ book Durham Forces in the Field 1920, page 195.The book is available in the City Library). The fatality probably occurred during the final few days of the “3rd” Ypres offensive near Zillebeke.

The son of Thomas Bowman and Sarah Bowman of Neville’s Cross, he was born in Crossgate Moor, and in 1891 the household there consisted of his father aged 24 a labourer born in Coxhoe, his mother aged 21 born in Bishop Auckland. Joseph was then but 3 months old. In 1922 a George Bowman lived in Newcastle Road, and a Thomas H. Bowman lived in Homer Terrace.

Richard Wilfred Brown was regimental number 15319, corporal in B Company of the 8th Durham Light Infantry and he died on 17th September 1916 aged 26. He is buried in Ypres Reservoir Cemetery. He probably fell during the battle around Ypres at Poperinghe. It is possible that he may have been previously in the Coldstream Guards, number 12399.

He was the son of Richard and Ann Brown of Relly’s Mill in Neville’s Cross. In 1911 he was 22 years old and a coalminer. His brother was Robert James aged 19, a boiler fireman and sisters Frances Ellen aged 15 born Durham and Esther Elizabeth aged 13 born Sidegate.

Charles Henry Broome was a lance corporal in the 7th Battalion, Kings Own Scottish Borderers. His number was 21661 and he was killed in action on 23rd July 1918, during part of the final onslaught against the Germans in the Bapaume area, near Amiens.

In the census of 1911 there was a Charles Broome born in Spennymoor, Co Durham about 1899. In 1911 he lived in 16 Attwood Terrace, Tudhoe and was aged 12. His family consisted of his father Matthew Thomas Broome, a coke cooler and owner aged 38 and born in Tudhoe, mother Jane Anne, aged 40 born in Spennymoor, his siblings, Jane Anne aged 15, born Spennymoor, Thomas Edward aged 10, born Spennymoor, Roland aged 7, Eleanor Margaret aged 4, born in Durham, and Gladys aged 8 months born in Tudhoe. In 1922 a Matthew Broome lived in 2 Fenwick Terrace, Neville’s Cross.

Edward Carter was a private in the Tank Corps and was killed on 19th September 1918 and is listed in the Durham City Town Hall Memorial. He is also named on the St Oswald’s church memorial. He appears to have enlisted as Edward Purvis Carter in 1914, born circa 1885 and formerly number 21154 private soldier in the Kings Royal Rifles.

Born in St Oswald’s Parish, he was aged 16 in 1911 and lived at Stonebridge in Lowes Barn Bank Farm. His family consisted of his father, William Carter, aged 59, a farmer born in Silksworth, his mother Elizabeth, aged 52, born in Durham, his sister Mary, aged 20, born in Crossgate Moor, his brother, Henry, aged 18 born Stonebridge, St Oswald’s Parish, other brothers, William, aged 16, and Edward, aged 14, all of them assisting their father on the farm. There were two sisters, Elizabeth aged 13 and Margaret aged 10, born in Lowes Barn. The farm of Lowes Barn was probably opposite the Duke of Wellington Inn and has since been replaced by private houses. In 1922 the family seems to be living at Stonebridge Mill.

James Rawson Coatham was a private in in the 18th Durham Light Infantry and was killed on the first day of the Somme battle, 1st July 1916, probably between Fricourt and Contralmaison. He is buried in Gordon Dump Cemetery and listed on the City War Memorial.

His attestation paper (dated 23rd December 1914) states that he lived at 2 Front Street, Crossgate Moor. He was born 1st August 1882, City of Durham. In 1911 he lived at number 58 Crossgate and was a joiner aged 28 and married in Brandon 1908 to Kate Alice Chittock, aged 26 and born in Cornsay. They had two daughters, Lilian aged 3 and Margaret aged 11 months, both born in Langley Moor. The Coatham family by 1916 was living in Gilesgate.

William Culbert, was killed on 29th June 1918. No 18/1357 Lcpl in DLI. The fatality probably occurred during the German offensive near Amiens.

His attestation paper shows him to be number 1357 William Culbert of 18th Battalion D.L.I. address 64, Hallgarth Street, born c. 1890, aged 25 on 1st February 1915, a warehouseman. His household apart from himself, was Carolina Scott, his wife, Constance Marjory and William, his children
In the 1911 Census there is another family of Culberts at 15 Atherton Street, James Culbert aged 61, Hawker, born in Ballinderry, Ireland, wife deceased. His family: Mary Jane, his daughter, aged 31, a dressmaker born Spennymoor, James, his son, aged 29, stone miner, born Spennymoor, William, cartman, wine and spirit merchant, born 1890, Spennymoor, grandchildren: James aged 9 and Dora aged 9 (evidently twins) both born in City Of Durham. These two families could be related and may explain why our William appears on the Neville’s Cross Memorial and not that of St Oswald’s

James Copeland Elliott, number 9016 private soldier, was a member of the RAMC Field Ambulance and died on 3rd November 1918 aged 31 and buried in Bisigny Communal Cemetery Extension

He was the son of John Thomas and Mary Elliott, said to be of North Bailey and the husband of Mary Elliott of Bishop Auckland.
I was unable to find a James Copeland Elliott living at this address in the 1911 Census. The nearest was a James Copeland Elliott aged 22 born c 1889, residing in Howden le Wear and a coal miner. The family consisted of John Thomas Elliott (father), aged 51, pipe worker, born West Auckland, Mary Elizabeth Elliott (mother), aged 49, born Fencehouses, John Copeland, aged 22, born Witton le Wear, Olive Snowdon, aged 20, born Bishop Auckland, May Isabel, aged 15, born Howden le Wear. However in 1922 a Frederick Elliott lived at 1 Cross View, a James lived at 4 Prospect Terrace, and a J. T. Elliott lived at the Neville’s Cross Hotel.

Probably Wilfred E. Elliott, born 11th August 1880, Bishop Auckland. Royal Navy or Royal Marine, died 25th April 1916.

The nearest Wilfred in the 1911 Census was 20 Thompson Street, Bearpark, in the household of Thomas aged 61 and Mary his wife aged 58. They had a large family consisting of William, aged 37, John aged 36, Elizabeth, aged 30, John Edward, aged 23, Thomas and Margaret, aged 19, Maurice, aged 18 and Wilfred, aged 14, all born in Durham County. See also notes for James Elliott.

There is a Lance Corporal Robert Elliott of the Loyal North Lancs Regiment listed on the City Hall Memorial. He is probably the one who died 3rd August 1917, 8th Battalion of Durham Light Infantry, no: 34698 killed in action, formerly 180770 in Royal Engineers.

There is a Robert Elliott in the 1911 Census in Esh Parish, 10 George Street, Ushaw Moor. But a closer family lived in Gilesgate, Durham consisting of Robert Elliott aged 29, born c 1882, a master mason, born Gilesgate, his wife Agnes aged 22, born West Sherburn and living at 21 Edward Street. Nearby is another Robert Elliott aged 72, widower, retired master mason , born Gilesgate. Yet another Elliott family lived at 147 Gilesgate consisting of John Elliott, aged 40, a greengrocer, his wife Margaret, aged 38, born Felling, son John Long Elliott aged 12, Mary Stobart Elliott aged 10, Robert Ritchie Elliott aged 9, Thomas Dodd Elliott aged 5 all born in Durham. See also notes for James Elliott.

Joseph David Mobbs was a private soldier in the Durham Light Infantry, wounded and returned to UK. He died on 4th November 1916 and is buried in St Margaret’s Churchyard, Durham.

He was the son of Charles and Margaret Mobbs of 14 Prospect Terrace, Neville’s Cross Bank. In 1911 he was aged 19. His father was Charles Mobbs, aged 59 a printer’s agent, born in Norfolk. His mother was Margaret, aged 61, born in Newcastle. His brother was Charles Isaac, aged 25, a postman born in Cornsay and his sister was Mary Ann, aged 23, a waitress also born in Cornsay. In 1922, an Arthur F. Mobbs lived in Bees Cottage, and a Charles I. Mobbs lived in 3, Kipling Terrace, Lowes Barn.

Joseph Morgan is listed on the City Hall Memorial as a private soldier in the 15th or 18th D.L.I. Probably military number 46458, died 30th July 1918, near Morecque during the final advance of the British.

There was a Morgan family living in 1911 in 33, Hallgarth Street, consisting of James Henry, 37, coalminer, born in New Durham, his wife Mary, aged 38, born in Framwellgate. Their children, Hannah, aged 15, Elizabeth, aged 13, Joseph, aged 11, James, aged 9, Ethel, aged 7 and Mabel, aged 4, were all born in Durham. In 1922 a Joseph H. Morgan lived in 9 Neville Terrace, Crossgate Moor.

Frederick Pattinson Phillips was a gunner in the Royal Field Artillery (1st Reserve Brigade) and was killed on 6th July 1917, aged 20.

His attestation paper, 5th December 1915, shows that he is 74423 Gunner Fred Phillips of the Royal Garrison Artillery, living at 9, Ruby Terrace, Tudhoe Colliery, aged 25years and 2 months, a boot repairer. In the same house lived Mary Phillips.
He was probably the son of Elizabeth Phillips or Wilkinson, of 3 Crossgate Moor, Neville’s Cross and the late Frederick Phillips and a scholar in the 1911 Census. Frederick Pattinson Phillips was aged 13. The family consisted of William Pattinson, aged 69, a widower, plate layer, born in Scotswood, Elizabeth Pattinson, aged 38, born Durham City, Robert Wilkinson, aged 37, son in law, plate layer, born in Hamsterley, Frederick Phillips, grandson, aged 13, born in Pallion, Doris Lily, granddaughter, aged 11, Elsie, aged 8, Elizabeth Ann, aged 6, all Phillips, born in Pallion, and Mary Wilkinson, 11 months, born in Crossgate Moor.
Another source suggests that the family lived in North View, Neville’s Cross Bank. A Robert Wilkinson lived there in 1922. In the same year an Ann Phillips lived at 2, Prospect Terrace.

I could find no details of war service.

In the 1911 Census the closest I could get was to a John James Rowland living in Brandon, aged 12. His father was Rowley Rowland, aged 39, a coal miner born in Kyo, his mother Jane, aged 34, born in Sherburn. John himself was born in Crook, his brother Rowley, aged 10, born in Sunnyside, brother Percy aged 8, born in Happyland, William, aged 5, born in Dipton and Thubron, aged 7months, born in Meadowfield. In 1922 a Rowley Rowland lived in Audley House, a James William Rowland lived at 20, Young Street and a Robert Rowland lived at 10, Alexandria Crescent.

John W. Scarth was a private soldier in the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards. He died on 5th November 1914 aged 20 and buried in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery and listed on the City’s war memorial.

He was the son of William and Annie Scarth of 10, Prospect Terrace, Neville’s Cross Bank. The 1911 Census records the family: John William Scarth, aged 50, a miner born in Sunderland, his wife Ann, aged 48, born in Durham, their children Thomas Atkinson, aged 20, Annie Curtis, aged 18, John William, aged 16, a miner, Jane Herlton, aged 14, Charles Henry, aged 11, all born in Durham, Ellen Atkinson, aged 9 and Barbara, aged 7, both born in Neville’s Cross.

John H. Shepherd was a private in the West Yorks Regiment (Prince of Wales Own) 1st/8th Battalion and died on 25th September 1916 aged 31. He is buried in Puchevillers British Cemetery.
He was the son of the late J.W. Shepherd and Mrs Shepherd. In 1911 the family lived in near 1, Neville’s Cross. His father at that time was John Wills Shepherd, aged 68, a slater born in St Giles Durham, his mother Margaret Ann, aged 60, born in Waldridge Fell, John Henry himself, aged 26, a tailor born in Neville’s Cross and Ivy, his sister, aged 16, also born in Neville’s Cross. In 1922 an Elizabeth Shepherd lived in Auton House, and W. Shepherd “Ladies and Gents Tailors” lived in Neville’s Cross.

E. H. Stephenson was number 75670 private Edwin Harold Stephenson of 15th Durham Light Infantry, who enlisted in Sunderland, was resident in Ferryhill and died on 29th May 1918, buried in Marfaux. He was probably a casualty of the German offensive at Tour de Rougemont.

He was from the household of Elizabeth Stephenson, living at Fern Cottage, Neville’s Cross. She was aged 53 in 1911, a widow born in Cockfield, daughter (and sister to E. Harold) Martha Isabella, aged 20, a teacher born in Waterhouses, Francis Allison, aged 5, born in Brandon. In 1922 a Robert Stephenson lived at 9, Crossgate.

Robert Todd served as a gunner, regimental number 100122 in the Royal Garrison Artillery and was killed in action 26th April 1916. He is listed on the City Memorial.

He was born in Brandon, Durham and was 26 years old in 1911. He lived in 1, George Street Neville’s Cross and was a drapery traveller. His father was John George Todd, aged 53, a Prudential Insurance Agent born in Broompark, his mother was Anne Todd, aged 53, born in West Rainton. His sister Isabella Frances, aged 29, was a schoolteacher born in Ferryhill and his brother was Robert, aged 26, a draper born in Brandon. There were several Todds entered in the 1922 Directory. Emma Todd lived in the Peth, Herbert at 6, Young Street, Mary at Sydney Grove, The Peth, another Mary at 21, Crossgate, and William Smith Todd in Laburnum Avenue.

The term “died” could mean that the deceased was killed in action, or died of wounds or some other fate. Occasionally I have been able to be specific.
This research is ongoing. It will be seen that some of the fallen came from large families, and their descendants might still be alive today, living in the locality and reading this article. If they are and have further information the compiler would be pleased to hear from them.
(Sadly, Douglas has now died.)
Acknowledgements and thanks are due to Anna Delange who began this research, to librarians of the city library, staff of the County Record Office and to Kevin who took me through the complexities of the computer.