Herbert William Sunderland Private 15/864 1st Leeds Pals

Herbert Sunderland was the son of a prominent member of Headingley Methodist Church and was himself, together with his mother and sister and older brother, very involved in the Sunday School work at the church.

He was born in 1886, the second son of William, a solicitor’s clerk, and Mary Sunderland.  In the 1901 census he is listed as a 16 year old building society clerk living at 14 Hyde Park Terrace with his parents, sister Emma (20)and brothers John Wilmot (20), a stock broker’s clerk, and Ernest Arthur (14), a schoolboy.  The family were still living together at 14 Hyde Park Terrace when the 1911 census was taken and were following the same occupations.  The youngest son Ernest Arthur was by now an insurance clerk (Find My Past).  Anecdotal evidence relates that Herbert and a friend spent cycling holidays in France and Germany in the years immediately before the First World War.

In the Church Leaders’ Minute book for Headingley Methodist Church an entry dated October 9th 1914 notes that: “Mr H W Sunderland resigned his position as teacher (Sunday School) having joined the Pals Battalion.”

Herbert was killed in action on July 1st 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme.  He is buried in Serre Cemetery No. 1.  His entry in the Commonwealth War Graves Register reads: “Sunderland, Pte. Herbert William 864 15th Bn. West Yorkshire Regt.  Killed in action 1st July 1916 aged 31.  Son of William and Mary Sunderland of 14 Hyde Park Terrace Leeds I.C.24.”(CWGC website).  He is commemorated on the World War 1 memorial at Headingley Methodist Church and on the family headstone at Lawnswood Cemetery.  John Wilmot also joined the forces and survived the war.  In January 1917 he wrote to the church Leaders from France to urge them to appoint a Sunday School Treasurer in his place, not knowing how long he would be away.  He added that “I often think of you all at church on Sundays here which are often no different from weekdays.”

Researcher Jane Luxton

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