Private James Simon Cutter (203785)

1/7th Bn, Worcestershire Regiment, 144th Brigade, 48th (South Midland) Division, T.F. B.E.F

Malvern Commemoration: Holy Trinity North Malvern,

Burial/Commemoration: Tyne Cot Cemetery

Nature of Death: Killed in action on the Steenbeek Flanders 27/8/1917

Age: 25

Next of Kin: Son of Agnes Cutter of 4 Church View, Chesterton, Cirencester, Gloucestershire and the late James Cutter

Previous Employment: At Sparkes and Houlton, Church Street, Great Malvern

Capbadge of the Worcestershire Regiment

Early years

James Simon Cutter was born in 1892 at Cirencester, the son of James Cutter a railway porter and his wife Agnes.  On 26th February 1892, he was christened at home (2 Rock Terrace, Chesterton), perhaps owing to a difficult birth.  By the 1901 Census, James had two younger sisters, Kate and Ann and a younger brother, Alfred.  the Cutter family of six were living still living here.

By the time of the 1911 Census, James had left home.  On the outbreak of the First World war he lodged at 1 Belvoir Terrace, Belvoir Bank, North Malvern.

First World War

In September 1914 James volunteered for the 8th Worcestershire Regiment, the local Territorial battalion and joined the “Malvern Chums Company” which was formed from recruits in the town.  They were drilled locally and subsequently came under the auspices of the 2/8th Battalion.  However many men, like James, were keen to serve overseas and were posted to the 1/8th Battalion.

Malvern Chums Company, 8th Worcestershire Regiment in November 1914

Malvern Chums Company, 8th Worcestershire Regiment in November 1914

The 1/8th Worcestershire Regiment landed at Boulogne on 1st April 1915 and went into the trenches around Ploegsteert Wood on the Franco-Belgian border in May and June of that year.  They moved to the Somme over the winter and remained their until the Battle of the Somme in July 1916.

On Christmas Day 1915, the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard reported that 280 Christmas parcels had been sent to Cirencester soldiers on active and foreign service.  James Cutter was among one of the fortunate recipients.

Battle of the Somme

On 20th July 1916 the battalion were repairing a section of the St Albert – Bapaume Road near Pozieres when gas shells fell around them.  A new type of gas, the men worked on and only over the following days felt the ill effects of the gas used.  In droves the men became ill when attempting any kind of physical exertion and finally the battalion, Pte Cutter among them, were evacuated to No 5 Convalescent Depot at Cayeux-sur-Mer on 14th September 1916.

Cayeux-sur-Mer, location of 5 Convalescent Depot

Cayeux-sur-Mer, location of 5 Convalescent Depot where the men of the 1/8th Worcesters recuperated from their gas poisoning.

Most men did not return to the unit until 5th or 6th December 1916.  By this time the battalion numbers had been made up, and some men, including James Cutter, were surplus to requirement and were posted to the 1/7th Worcestershire Regiment to make up battle casualties.


During April 1917, men of the 1/7th and 1/8th Worcestershire Regiment were involved in the following German troops as they withdrew to pre-prepared positions on the Hindenburg Line.  In August they became involved in the Battle of Passchendaele around Ypres.

Battle of Passchendaele

On 27th August 1917, after ten days of fighting through the mud and slime, the men of the 1/7th Worcestershire Regiment were tasked with capturing concrete pillboxes and other fortified remnants of farm buildings in an area where today the Canadian St Julien Memorial is located.

The Regimental History recorded that:

“At 1.55pm the British artillery broke forth in an intense barrage of fire, and all along the line the attacking platoons pushed forward through the mud.  The 1/7th Worcestershire had ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ Companies in the front line….

“The exact location of the enemy was hardly known.  In the wilderness of shell-holes many German machine-gun posts had been established; and as soon as the barrage had passed those machine-guns came into action and opened fire.  Struggling through the mud, the platoons of the Worcestershire pushed forward….

Murderous little fights

On the right flank of the Battalion, Captain Wallace led ‘A’ Company forward most gallantly.  The attack had passed beyond the defence of Vancouver Farm and was nearing a concrete fort beyond it when two German snipers rose form a shell-hole close at hand.   They shot Captain Wallace and a corporal who rushed to his assistance.  Murderous little fights of that kinds were taking place all along the line, while the ground was swept by machine guns from the front and also from the left flanks where the defences of Vielles Maisons had repulsed the 11th Division.

The Passchendaele battlefield, typical of the conditions faced by the men of the Worcestershire Regiment.

The Passchendaele battlefield, typical of the conditions faced by the men of the Worcestershire Regiment.

“Dusk fell in driving rain, and the floundering troops dug in as best they could.  Except in the centre around Vancouver the two Battalions had everywhere gained ground, but at heavy cost.  A greater success was not physically possible, for movement either forward or backward was a matter of the greatest difficulty to the exhausted and overloaded men.”

The cost was indeed high, the 1/7th Worcesters lost 6 officers and 99 other ranks.  Pte James Cutter was among them.  After the war his body was recovered from the battlefield and identified by his pay book.  Today he lies buried at Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the world.

James Simon Cutter's grave at Tyne Cot Cemetery in 2016.

James Simon Cutter’s grave at Tyne Cot Cemetery in 2016.


The Malvern News reported: “Pte J S Cutter, Worcestershire Regiment has been killed in action last month – he was formerly employed at Messrs Sparkes and Houlton, Church St. Aged 25, he joined the Chums Company soon after the outbreak of war.” 

Today James Cutter is remembered at Holy Trinity Church, North Malvern and at St John the Baptist Church, Cirencester.

World War I Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923
Cirencester Parish Registers: Baptism 1872 - 1896
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
"The Worcestershire Regiment in the Great War" by Captain H Fitzmaurice Stacke p283-284
1901 Census
Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard 25/12/1915 p2
Malvern News 29/9/1917
Gloucestershire Chronicle 29/9/1917

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