Capt Cumberland first officer to fall


Capt Brian Clarke Cumberland, 1/5th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment and only son of Mr Hugh Cumberland JP, of The Lynchet, Hart Hill, Luton, has fallen in action in Gallipoli.

Capt Cumberland is the first officer of the 1/5th Bedfordshire Regiment to be killed in action, and the news of his death came as quite a shock to Luton people yesterday, having regard to the very short time which had elapsed since the Battalion left this country for the Mediterranean. If fact, except for the intimation that two junior officers had been wounded, no news had been received tio indicate that the Battalion had been in action, although in the last letter received from Capt Cumberland he mentioned that he expected to be in the fighting line within a few days.

Capt Brian CumberlandOnly the bare news of his untimely end has yet been received, and this came to Me Hugh Cumberland last on Tuesday night. The postal authorities telephoned him to enquire whether he could receive a telegram, and when this was delivered it was found to read as follows:

"August 24th - Regret to inform you that Capt B. C. Cumberland, 5th Bedfordshire Regiment was killed in action, 15th August. Lord Kitchener expresses his sympathy. Territorial Records, Warley."

The news, of course, came as a terrible blow to the family, and it was immediately communicated to Mr J. W. Green JP and Mrs Green, of The Larches, New Bedford Road, uncle and aunt of Captain Cumberland. Mr E. Anthony Cumberland JP, another uncle, was out of town for the night, and yesterday morning was going to Dover to see his daughter Eila off to France, where she is to work as a nurse. As a result, the tragic news could not be communicated to him for some time.

It was only on Tuesday that Mrs Brighten, wife of Lieut-Colonel E. W. Brighten, who is in charge of the Battalion, hear that her brother (Lieut James) was wounded. As she received the news so quickly and Mr Chaundler, of Biggleswade, had been promptly notified that his son was wounded, it was assumed that with Capt Cumberland and others from Luton things were going well.

The last letter from Capt Cumberland was written to his sister, Gladys. It was dated August 10th, and in this Capt Cumberland said the Battalion had just landed on an island [Lemnos]. They had orders to hold themselves in readiness to re-embark, and he understood that they were going to force a new landing. He added that he expected to be in the fighting line within four or five days after writing the letter.

There will be general sympathy with the family in the loss they have sustained, for Messrs Cumberland are widely known in this part of the country, and the share which Capt Cumberland was taking in the business of Messrs J. Cumberland and Sons before he was called up for service was bringing him also a wide circle of acquaintances.

As previously mentioned, Capt Cumberland was the only son of Mr Hugh Cumberland JP, and the only one to carry on the respected name of Cumberland, ad Mr Anthony Cumberland had no son. He was 26 years of age, having been born on March 11th, 1889, and his second name was that of his grandfather, the late Mrs Cumberland having been the only daughter of the late Mr William Clarke, one of the old school of farmers who for many years resided at the Brache, Luton.

Capt Cumberland received his early education in Luton from Mr Furlong, and the last few years of his school life were spent at Dunstable Grammar School. As he was somewhat delicate on leaving school his father sent him for a year to Mr James Day, a well-known Bedfordshire farmer who was then at Roxton, near Bedford, and who is now farming a large acreage at Harrold.

This training was particularly useful to him in anticipation of he career which was planned for him, in view of the fact that a large part of the business of Messrs J. Cumberland and Sons is associated with the landed and agricultural interests. From Mr Day he went to High Wycombe, where he was articled to Mr Arthur Vernon, auctioneer and valuer and one of the past presidents of the Surveyors' Institute.

In 1911 Capt Cumberland became associated with his father's firm at Luton, and in the few years which have elapsed, had become widely known. He regularly wielded the hammer in the Luton Cattle Market, had passed the examinations qualifying him for membership of both the Auctioneers' and Surveyors' Institutes, and but for being called up for service last August he would by now have been admitted to partnership in the firm.

In 1911 he became associated with Major (now Lieut-Colonel) Brighten in the Territorial movement, but did not receive his captaincy until last year.

He was a member of the St John the Baptist Lodge of Freemasons, being initiated by his father when he was Master for the second time in the session of 1911-12.

Capt Cumberland was one of five descendants of the late Mr John Cumberland to hold commissions in the Army - Mr J. W. Green having two sons at the Front, while a third expects to leave Landguard with a draft shortly, and the second son of the late Mr Frederick Cumberland is serving in the Wiltshire Yeomanry.

In the sporting field, Capt Cumberland had figured most as a tennis player, although he was also a very promising member of the South Beds Golf Club. In the King Street Tennis Tournament of 1913 he won the singles championship and the mixed doubles championship, partnered by Miss B. Wright. With H. Cumberland Brown he won the final of the doubles championship in 1914.

[The Luton News, August 26th, 1915]