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Durham County Record Office: the official archive service for County Durham and Darlington

Arthur Henry Corner (1893-1916)

Information about Arthur Henry Corner, teacher at Tudhoe Colliery, who died of wounds at the Battle of the Somme and is commemorated on Durham County Council War Memorial.

Biography

Arthur Henry Corner was born on 26 July 1893 at Wharton Street, Old Coundon. His parents were William Francis Corner, a coke burner, and Margaret Elizabeth Corner, and he was their fifth child. He was baptised on 16 August 1893 at the Methodist New Connexion Chapel at Coundon, where three of his siblings were also baptised. By 1901 the family had moved to 4 East Terrace, Coundon, and had increased by two more children.

Photograph of Arthur Henry Corner, courtesy of the Corner family
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By 1911 the family had moved to The Villas at Dean Bank, Ferryhill, and Arthur's father had risen to the position of coke oven and by-product plant manager at Bolckow and Vaughan's Dean and Chapter Colliery (opened in 1904). The family had also increased by a further four children.

Arthur attended Leasingthorne Council Mixed School, Bishop Auckland Grammar School and the Pupil Teacher Centre at Spennymoor, and worked as a pupil teacher at Leasingthorne School, from 23 July 1909 (when he was helping with standards II and IV). His progress at Leasingthorne is not recorded in the school log book, except for an entry noting his return to the school on 10 April 1911 'after attending the Grammar School', and he left Leasingthorne on 14 July 1911.

In the autumn of 1911 he began a two-year course to train as a teacher at Bede College in Durham City, having passed 39th out of about 100 in the entrance examination. By 1911 the family had moved from the Methodist Church to the Church of England, as Arthur's testimonial to Bede College (a Church of England College) was written by the curate of Ferryhill, Rev Clement Dickinson.

Arthur's best subjects at Bede College were music and physical training which he passed with B grades, he gained grade Cs in science and drawing, but for reading and teaching he only passed with D grades. However, he was appointed to the staff of Tudhoe Colliery Council Mixed School as a certified assistant in the summer of 1913. Although his first term at the school began on 25 August he was ill and did not start until 28 August, initially teaching class II. His time at the school seems to have been uneventful, although he missed the late start of term on 7 September 1914 after structural alterations 'as he was not notified of the re-opening of the school'; and for the two days he taught at Dean Bank School.

On 28 November 1914 the school log book notes that 'Messrs Robinson, Fairless and Corner have obtained leave of absence to join Lord Kitchener's army. They have not been at school today. They join their battalion tomorrow'. The school had a total staff of eight, with six qualified teachers, three of whom were the volunteers. Frederick Robinson survived the war, but Edward Fairless died 17 days after Arthur Corner.

Soldiers around the crater at La Boisselle, France, 1 July 1916 (D/DLI 2/7/18(117))
Arthur was posted to the 18th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry, the 'Durham Pals'. The unit was formed at Cocken Hall and became part of the 93rd Infantry Brigade and the 31st Division.

He served with the battalion during its time in Egypt (December 1915-March 1916) and when it moved to the Western Front. He was severely wounded and gassed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916, in the attack on the village of Serre, when 450 men of the battalion were either killed or wounded.

Having passed through the casualty clearing system in France he was brought back to Graylingwell Hospital in Chichester (the West Sussex county mental hospital, which was a temporary wartime hospital), but he died of his wounds on 10 July, age 22. His body was brought back to Durham and he was buried at Coundon St. James' churchyard on 13 July. The Tudhoe Colliery School log book records that members of the staff attended his funeral, and that his parents asked that his class, Class III, should also be allowed to attend. Unfortunately Arthur's service records do not appear to have survived.

In addition to the County Hall memorial, Arthur Corner is also commemorated on the memorial cross in the grounds of the College of St Hild and St Bede, on the roll of honour in the college, and on a plaque in the college. His name also appears on a plaque at King James' School Bishop Auckland, the Ferryhill war memorial and the roll of honour of the Spennymoor and District Teachers' Association.

His father, William, died later in 1916, probably accidentally - he had made his inspection of the by-product plant for the night, and was later found lying dead beneath some trucks.

Sources

  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
  • Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914-19 CD
  • Medal Rolls Index Cards
  • North East War Memorials Project website
  • Coundon burial register, EP/Cou 16, p.75
  • Coundon Methodist New Connexion Chapel baptisms, M/Wi 77, p.90
  • Bede College students' record sheets, E/HB 2/236, f.18
  • Bede College register of applicants, E/HB 2/257, pp.239-240
  • Tudhoe Colliery Council Mixed School log book, E/WC 31, pp.286, 298-301
  • Tudhoe Colliery Council Mixed School log book, E/WC 32, pp.22
  • A.H. Corner's diary, D/DLI 7/143/1
  • 1901 Census return, RG 13/4648, f.94v
  • 1911 Census return, RG 14/29699
  • Durham Advertiser, 24 December 1915, p.6(c)
  • Durham Advertiser, 14 July 1916, p.5(g)
  • Durham Advertiser, 28 July 1916, p.7(e)