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John William Cawcutt WW1

by Jess Gibby | People, World War One

Private John William Cawcutt M2/181850 of the Royal Army Service Corps served in BE Africa and was the son of John William and Jane Cawcutt (née Hallaway); husband of Rosetta Cawcutt (née Clarke) of Cross Cottage, Bishopsteignton. He was born in Reading in 1885, he died 2 August 1917 aged 32 years on return from war and is buried in the Higher Cemetery, Exeter.

Early Life

Private John William Cawcutt M2/181850 of the Royal Army Service Corps served in BE Africa and was the son of John William and Jane Cawcutt (née Hallaway). He was born in Reading in 1885.

In the 1891 census his parents were “poor law schoolmasters and schoolmistresses of the Lincoln St Paul Union Workhouse” in Lincoln. They obviously got promoted as according to the 1901 census,  when John William was 15 years old,  his father and mother were Master and Matron of the Union Workhouse in Great Grimsby, Lincolnshire.

In 1911 they were attached to the Renfrew Road, Kennington Workhouse. In the 1911 census John William, now 25 years old, had moved away from home and was Assistant Master of the Mansfield Workhouse so he obviously remained in the same line of business.

He married Rosetta Clarke in Lincolnshire and they had a child Gwendoline Hermine born 29th May 1913 in Dartford. There is a baptism record of his daughter Gwendoline Hermine registered at Bexley Heath, 10, Izane Road where he now is recorded as being an insurance agent.

Military Experience

John William Cawcutt was 30 years 11 months old when he enlisted at Grove Park. Described as 6 ft 2 ½ inches, with hazel eyes and dark brown hair and with his occupation as a chauffeur, John William joined the Royal Army Service Corps as a private and served in East Africa as part of the British Expeditionary Force from 24th June 1916 to 29th Jan 1917.

He was discharged on the 13th April 1917 in Southport, Lancs as part of 621 Company, being no longer physically fit for war with chronic pleurisy/TB, which was written in his pension records as “total disablement”. His medical report states that he suffered night palpitations, cough and infection. Previous weight 12 stone 10lbs  became 10 stone 7lbs .

Death and Burial

In request for his war pension Cawcutt writes that he had only received 4 lots of pay since enlisting. He died at a local sanatorium, possibly Salcombe,  on 2nd August 1917 aged 32 years and was buried on the 4th August 1917, Internment No 37377 in the Higher Cemetery, Exeter.[1]

He was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal.


His widow Rosetta qualified as a midwife in 1921 and was still living in Bishopsteignton  at Cross Cottage.

It seems she lived to 101 and died in May 1986 in Bournemouth but she was buried in Newton Abbot in the municipal 2 cemetery so she obviously wanted to return to this area.

Are you a descendant of the Cawcutt family? Please do get in touch with us.