Herbert Cairns

1892 - 1917

Herbert won a Mathematical scholarship to Brasenose College and wanted to teach in France.

Father became Mayor of Sunderland

Herbert Cairns was born in 1892 in Sunderland, to Sara Scott. She had three more children with Herbert’s father, David Cairns, although they did not marry until 1901. David was a master butcher and a Methodist. He became a councillor and, in 1927, Mayor of Sunderland.

Scholarship to Brasenose

Herbert went to Bede Collegiate School, winning a Mathematical scholarship to Brasenose College, where he began in 1910. His mother Sara died the same year, and three years later his father married her sister.

Wanted to teach in France

Herbert graduated in 1914 and wanted to teach in France, but the war prevented this and he took a post in Newcastle-under-Lyme. In November 1915 he joined the Inns of Court Officers’ Training Corps, which trained thousands of volunteers at a camp at Berkhamsted Common.

Hospitalised in London

Herbert was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the Kings Royal Rifle Corps, but he did not join his battalion until 14 April 1917. By this time the unit had seen a good deal of action, and was fighting at the Battle of Arras. Herbert was wounded by a bullet in the shoulder and sent to hospital in London.

Died leading a raiding party

At the end of September 1917 Herbert fought at the Battle of Polygon Wood and on 4 October he led a raiding part towards the enemy line. He died amid heavy machine-gun fire, and his body was not recovered. He was aged 25, and he is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial, at Brasenose College, and also at Bede Collegiate School.



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