DIVISIONAL UNIT: 1st General Hospital
No. 8 Company
Canadian Army Medical Corps
SERVICE NO: 524518
RESIDENCE: Vernon - British Columbia
DATE OF BIRTH: August 7, 1877
Blyth – East Wawanosh / Morris Townships – County of Huron - Ontario
DATE OF DEATH: May 20, 1918 40 years 8 months
CEMETERY: Etaples Military Cemetery – Etaples –
Pas de Calais – France
LXV C 3
PARENTS: Nicholas and Isabella Cuming – Blyth
Occupation: Clerk Religion: Presbyterian
Enlistment: Vernon – British Columbia – November 12, 1915
Enlistment Age: 38 years 3 months
Upon his enlistment Private Cuming joined B Section of No 1 Ambulance Section. He then sailed from Halifax sometime in early March of 1916 on the SS Metagama and arrived in England on March 16, 1916. Private Cuming entered France on June 2, 1916 and it posted to Canadian Army Medical Corps General and then a week later is posted to No. 8 Field Ambulance. He himself becomes ill and becomes a patient in his own Field Ambulance before being moved to No. 5 Canadian Field Ambulance on September 10, 1916 and is discharged three days later.
On November 16, 1917 he is admitted to No. 9 Field Ambulance with shell concussion and transferred to New Zealand Stationary Hospital at Wisques on November 18th.
His condition was – headaches, pressure dizziness when standing. He was under heavy enemy shell fire for 2 hours on the morning of November 16th and following the shell fire he lost all control and consciousness for 4 hours and then sent to a casualty Clearing Station. From there it was to No. 22 General Hospital Dannes located in Camiers and the diagnosis was shell shock. This was November 25th. He was then admitted to No. 26 General Hospital in Etaples on November 27th. Then it was to No. 6 Convalescent Hospital in Etaples on February 8, 1918 and to the No. 14 Convalescent Depot in Trouville on February 12, 1918. He goes back to his duties on April 23, 1918.
Private Cuming died as the result of an enemy air raid on St. John’s Ambulance Brigade Hospital located at Etaples in France. This hospital was very well equipped and one of the most advanced facilities of its type.
The raid began at 10 pm when all were sleeping and the first wave of bombs landed in the men’s sleeping quarters. High explosive and incendiary bombs were dropped. Fires immediately began and very soon the building was a charnel house of dead and wounded men. Bombs also fell on the quarters of the Nursing sisters and Officers.
As rescue efforts were underway the enemy continued with their bombing. Two of the hospital wards took direct hits and patients were killed and wounded. Even as the raid went on the doctors were performing surgery on the wounded.
The staff casualties were 53 killed and 12 wounded. The patients casualties were 8 killed and 31 wounded. After it was all over 82 patients were admitted, 46 were discharged and there were still 1,156 patients remaining.
German aircrew that had been shot down and captured denied they were ordered to bomb hospitals. There was much discussion about the red crosses on the roof or even if they were there at all that night. The general view was that even if they had been there they probably would not have been visible to the aircrews in the lights of the magnesium flares from the normal bombing height of 5,000 feet. The aircrews also mentioned that many times they tried to bomb the bridge across the river but missed and hit the buildings nearby – which was the hospital.