Tribute to Sunderland police officers who died in First World War

From left to right, assistant chief constable Dave Orford, PC Glen Henderson, retired PC and standard bearer Dave Cuthbertson, chief inspector Catherine Clarke and inspector Ed Turner.
From left to right, assistant chief constable Dave Orford, PC Glen Henderson, retired PC and standard bearer Dave Cuthbertson, chief inspector Catherine Clarke and inspector Ed Turner.

Sunderland police officers who died in the First World War are to be commemorated during a ceremony this weekend.

Officers from Durham Constabulary are to take part in the Last Post ceremony, in Ypres, Belgium, to pay tribute in the centenary year of the end of the war.

James Turnbull Tracey is among those who will be remembered.

James Turnbull Tracey is among those who will be remembered.

The force standard will be paraded by chief inspector Catherine Clarke, inspector Ed Turner, PC Glen Henderson and retired PC Dave Cuthbertson at the Menin Gate.

They will also lay a wreath to remember the officers who lost their lives.

Over three days, the officers will also visit the graves of 20 former Durham Constabulary officers who are buried or remembered in memorials in the Ypres, Somme and Arras sectors, where individual tributes will be left to each of the officers.

Chief inspector Clarke said: “As this year marks the centenary of the end of the First World War, we wanted to pay tribute to those who made an extraordinary sacrifice. 

As this year marks the centenary of the end of the First World War, we wanted to pay tribute to those who made an extraordinary sacrifice

Catherine Clarke

“This trip started as an idea following the remembrance festival and parade that we were privileged to take part in last year, and as it developed we became aware of some research completed by a retired Durham Constabulary officer about former officers from the force who had gone to fight in the Great War.

“In addition to laying a wreath on behalf of the constabulary in the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate, this research has enabled us to plan our battlefields tour to take an individually named tribute to as many of our former colleagues as possible who were laid to rest or commemorated in the cemeteries and memorials of the area.

“In the 100th anniversary year of the end of the Great War, we feel a huge sense of pride and gratitude to our former colleagues who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

The trip has been based on extensive research into fallen Durham Constabulary officers carried out by former police officer John Grainger.

Joseph Turton is among those who will be remembered.

Joseph Turton is among those who will be remembered.

Assistant chief constable Dave Orford said: “It is extremely important that we remember the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for our freedom.

“The Last Post ceremony is a very poignant and emotive event and I know our officers feel extremely humbled to be taking part.”

Among the officers who will be remembered during the visit are:

James Turnbull Tracey (Menin Gate), 5/5/1889 to 2/11/1914

He was awarded the 1914 Star and clasp, British War Medal and Victory Medal.

Born in Sunderland, Tracey attested for service with the Coldstream Guards on January 24, 1910 aged 20.

Joined Durham County Constabulary on January 23, 1913 and was recruited to Seaham Harbour before being transferred to Houghton.

He was recalled to colours to rejoin his regiment on August 6, 1914 with the 2nd Battalion and entered France on August 12.

He was killed in action on November 11, 1914 in Rental, Belgium, aged 25 after his Battalion came under considerable rifle fire.

Joseph Turton (Arras Memorial), 29/2/1884 to 21/3/1918

He was awarded the Military Medal, 1914 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.

Born in Hetton-le-Hole, Turton joined in Durham Light Infantry as a Private on August 16, 1904. Aged 20.

He joined Durham County Constabulary on October 15, 1907 and was posted to Darlington the following year.

He was recalled to the colours to rejoin his regiment on August 5, 1914 and entered France on September 8, where he was twice promoted on the field for gallant conduct.

He was killed in action in France on March 21, 1918 aged 33.

Ralph Carrol (Thiepval Memorial), 23/3/1886 to 19/8/1916

He was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.

Born in Sunderland, he joined Durham County Constabulary on December 14, 1907.

When he applied for the police service he was an army reservist with the Royal Garrison Artillery.

He was recalled to the colours to rejoin his regiment on August 4, 1914 and entered France on August 21, 1915.

He died from his wounds on August 19, 1916 in France aged 30.

William Ashburn (Bluet Farm Cemetery), 28/7/1885 to 26/9/1917

He was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal.

He served in Northumberland County Constabulary before joining Durham on January 13, 1913 and was recruited to Southwick.

He was later transferred to Silksworth and East Herrington before resigning on June 25, 1915 to join the Royal Engineers as a Sapper.

He transferred to the York and Lancaster Regiment on September 13, 1917 for the Battle of Passchendaele.

He was killed in action in Belgium by shellfire on September 26.

Alexander Johnston (Arras Memorial), 3/5/1891 to 25/3/1918

He was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.

He joined Durham County Constabulary on September 16, 1912 as a PC, where he worked as a finance clerk for the chief constable’s office at HQ, in Durham.

He resigned on September 3, 1914 to join HMF as Private 17866 Hussars of the Line.

Johnston embarked for France on May 18, 1915.

He later received a commission as 2nd Lieutenant, East Yorkshire Regiment.

He was killed in action in France on March 25, 1918.