Friends of the Somme - Mid Ulster Branch  
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   Captain William Gordon Cummings
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Dated added: 30/12/2015   Last updated: 04/06/2020
Personal Details
Regiment/Service: Royal Army Medical Corps (British Army)
Date Of Birth: 13/07/1877
Died: 18/05/1917 (Killed in Action)
Age: 39
Summary      
William Cummings and was educated at the Royal School, Dungannon. Doctor William Cummings, had in a few years, built up a large medical practice him in the districts of Hamwell and West Ealing, London. William voluntarily joined the forces long before the day of conscription. He was with the Royal Army Medical Corps. Surgeon Captain William Cummings was killed in action on 18th May 1917 in the battle around Bullecourt.
Captain William Gordon Cummings
Further Information
William Gordon Cummings was the son of James and Eliza Cummings. William was born on 13 July 1877 in Dungannon, County Tyrone.
William Cummings and was educated at the Royal School, Dungannon from 1894 to 1897.
William went on to study Medicine at Queens University, entering on 19 October 1898.
William was well-known in local rugby football circles, and was a member of the brilliant Queens College rugby team of 1899-1900 which went through the season with an unbeaten record and won three cups. He was an excellent scrum half-back, and played in the inter-provincial team with another famous footballer, the late John D Ferris, who afterwards died in India while serving in the Indian Medical Services.
Scotch Street, Dungannon
The 1901 census records that his mother was a widow. Eliza was listed as a boot manufacturer in Scotch Street. Her son Robert Cummings was assisting her.
The 1901 census lists William as age 22, a medical student, at house 48 in Coalisland, Tullyniskane, County Tyrone. He was living with his sister and brother in law, Margaret and William Thompson. They were Grocer, Hardware, Boot and Shoe Merchants.
When studying at Queens University, he lived at 56 Carmel Street, Belfast.
William graduated M.B., B.Ch., and B.A.O. of the Royal University of Ireland in 1903, and subsequently obtained the D.P.H.
For a time after qualifying, William Cummings acted as resident medical officer at Richmond Hospital, Dublin.
By 1905, Doctor William Cummings was living in London. In a few years, he had built up a remarkable medical practice in the districts of Hanwell and West Ealing, London. He was a member of the Ealing Division of the British Medical Association.
In 1908, William married Mary Pleasance Cracknell.
In 1910, they had a daughter, Mary Elizabeth Cummings.
William retained his interest in Ulster politics, for in 1912 his signature could be found on the Ulster Covenant, signing in Westminster.
William voluntarily joined the forces long before the day of conscription, in January 1915. He enlisted with the Royal Army Medical Corps.
Medal card
In a letter home to his wife shortly before he died, Surgeon Captain William Cummings wrote:- 'We are now proceeding right up into the fray with the stretcher bearers, and things are pretty hot just where we are, and I expect they will be hotter still. Brought up my section here last night, and during that time there was a terrible barrage. 'I hope my darling little girl is all right. Dear little girl, I cried about her last night while going along the road on my horse leading my men. I am doing my duty at any rate, in fact more than most.'
Surgeon Captain William Cummings was killed in action on 18th May 1917 in the battle around Bullecourt, when a shell exploded in a dug out where he was treating injured soldiers. He was 39 years old.
From the Tyrone Courier dated 17 May 1917
We deeply regret having to announce the death of Surgeon Captain William Cummings on the 18th May, in the battle around Bullecourt. The deceased gentleman, at great personal inconvenience, voluntarily joined the forces long before the day of conscription. The few lines to his wife, written as he was approaching the greatest danger, evidently indicate how he met his fate:- 'We are now proceeding right up into the fray with the stretcher bearers, and things are pretty hot just where we are, and I expect they will be hotter still. Brought up my section here last night, and during that time there was a terrible barrage.'
Knowing that he was about to go up closer to the terrific cannonading, he probably concluded that his life was about to be sacrificed and home evidently flashing upon his mind, he added:- 'I hope my darling little girl is all right. Dear little girl, I cried about her last night while going along the road on my horse leading my men. I am doing my duty at any rate, in fact more than most.'
The deceased gentleman, had in a few years, built up a remarkable medical practice by his skill, diligence, courtesy and kindness. The news of his death was received with great sorrow by the thousands who not only knew him, but loved him in the districts of Hamwell and West Ealing, London, who admired not only his skill as a medical gentleman, but his courage and patriotism, and were therefore longing to welcome him back again. The late Doctor Cummings was the brother of Mr Robert Cummings of Scotch Street, Dungannon, and of the Rev J Cummings, M.A., London, and was educated at the Royal School, Dungannon.
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 24th May 1917:
Captain William Gordon Cummings, M.B., Royal Army Medical Corps, brother of Mr Robert Cummings, Scotch Street, Dungannon, was killed in action on 18th May. A former pupil of Dungannon Royal School and a graduate Queens University of Belfast, Captain Cummings was in practice in the Hanwell and West Ealing districts of London when war was declared. He was formerly well-known in local football circles, and was a member of the brilliant Queens College rugby team of 1899-1900 which went through the season with an unbeaten record and won three cups. He was an excellent scrum half-back, and played in the inter-provincial team with another famous footballer, the late John D Ferris, who afterwards died in India while serving in the Indian Medical Services.
From the Tyrone Courier dated Thursday 7 June 1917: Captain William G Cummings
M.B., Royal Army Medical Corps, (brother of Mr Robert Cummings, Scotch Street, Dungannon, and Rev James Cummings, M.A., London), killed in action on the 18th May 1917.
In a letter to Mrs. Cummings informing her of the instantaneous death of her husband, the A.D.M.S. of his division wrote:
"He was struck by a shell which exploded in the dug-out in which he was attending to the wounded. I feel his loss deeply, as lie was an officer of whom I had formed the highest possible opinion, and on whom I placed the greatest reliance. He was always cheery under the most adverse circumstances. Such an officer the R.A.M.C. can ill afford to lose."
William Cummings is buried in Mory Abbey Military Cemetery in France.
He is also commemorated on the headstone of the family plot in St Andrew's Parish Church in Killyman
William Cummings was a brother of Mr Robert Cummings of Scotch Street, Dungannon, and of the Rev J Cummings, M.A., London.
Read more
Relevant Dungannon Area Locations
No Location Region Location Notes Longtitude Latitude
1 Coalisland Town Coalisland Census listing in Coalisland Town 54.537866 -6.699271
2 Scotch Street (No 44) Dungannon Central Census lists family at Scotch Street 54.503592 -6.770457
References and Links
No Link Reference Map Doc
1 1901 Census lists a William Cummings Lists William as age 22, a medical student, at house 48 in Coal Island, Tullyniskane, Tyrone)
2 1901 Census lists Flood family Does not list William as living with the family at house 44 in Scotch Street, Dungannon, Tyrone
3 1910 Ulster Towns Directory Cummings, Mrs, boot and shoe warehouse, Scotch street
4 Find A Grave Photo of William Cummings' gravestone
5 National Archives UK Medal Card can be purchased here
6 Queens University and WW1 Queens University details
7 War Graves Photographic Project Photo of William Cummings's headstone can be purchased here.
Dungannon District's War Dead Acknowledgements 2015-2020