Rifleman, London Regiment (City of London Rifles), 1st/6th Bn.
Service No. 3362
Died 15 September 1916, aged about 21
Remembered at Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France
Chris Burge writes:
Edward Arthur Cunningham was born in Stockwell in 1895, the only child of Arthur and Fanny. He was baptised in Kent, his mother’s place of birth, with the given names Arthur Edward Reuben on 20 October 1895. In 1901, the family lived at 8 Burgoyne Road along with eight members of the Higgs family.
In the 1911 census, the Cunninghams were still with his parents at 8 Burgoyne Road, where they occupied three rooms. Edward was a Law Stationer’s apprentice and his father Arthur worked as a weighbridge clerk for Lambeth Borough Council.
In early 1915 Edward, then aged 20, went to the drill hall at 57a Farringdon Road to volunteer for the City of London Rifles (CLR), referred to as the ‘printers’ battalion’ because many of its members were recruited from Eyre & Spottiswoode’s printing works. The battalion was already in France but was recruiting for the 3rd line reserves. Edward was with a draft of men sent to France on 28 October, a month after the CLR had suffered terrible casualties at the Battle of Loos. Periods of line holding were interspersed with rest and training. On 30 April the following year a mine exploded under their position near Vimy Ridge causing over 80 casualties. In July 1916 they moved south to begin training for the ongoing Somme offensive. On 15 September, 47th Division attacked High Wood to cover the left flank of the tank-led attack of the adjacent divisions at Flers. The 1/6th pressed on, but ‘whole waves of men were mown down in line’ by machine-gun fire. Edward was killed in action on that day.
Edward’s parents moved to Dulwich after the war. Arthur is thought to have died in 1937, aged 67. Fanny died in 1942, aged 69.