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Cecil James Mason was born in Bedale Yorkshire in December 1892. His father Harry was a Blacksmith, originally from Lewisham in London and the family moved around with his work. In 1901 they were living in Middlesbrough and by now Cecil, the eldest, had been joined by brothers William & Harry and a sister Olga Mary . By 1911 Cecil’s parents Harry and Mary were living in Ambleside with his brothers and sister, and a new younger brother Andy. At this time Harry and Cecil’s bother William were working as gamekeepers. Meanwhile Cecil had left home and was working as a gardener on the Eden Hall Estate in Langwathby. We know that at some point between 1911 and the outbreak of war Cecil moved to Patterdale and worked as a gardener here, possibly at the Patterdale Hall Estate.
He enlisted in December 1915, so at the same time as other locals including Ernest Lake, John Pool and George Cooper. Like Ernest and George he joined the Coldstream Guards. We know that in March 1917 he was mentioned in dispatches for “conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty as a runner on September 15th 1916, (when) he repeatedly carried messages in spite of heavy shell fire”. From the report in the Westmorland Gazette we also know that his brother William was serving in The Dragoons.
He died on 31st July 1917 at Ypres, aged just 24. The Gazette quoted a letter that Captain John H Hall wrote to his parents which said that “He took part in the advance on July (3)1st and reached our final objective. He was shot through the heart by a sniper whilst the company was digging in. He was a splendid soldier, and it was only last March that he was awarded a parchment for gallantry in the field. He will be a great loss to me and his comrades. He was buried where he fell.”
He is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial -
If you have any more information on Cecil or his family please contact us.
Private Cecil James Mason
17667, 2nd Bn., Coldstream Guards
Born December 1892 in Bedale. Died 31st July 1917, Aged 24 in Ypres.
Son of Harry and Mary Mason, of Hawkshead Ambleside
Cecil’s Bravery Award as reported in the Westmorland Gazette in April 1916
The Steenbeek Small River East of Ypres
Cecil’s inscription on the Ypres Menin Gate Memorial, above -
The Menin Gate is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient. The Memorial bears the names of more than 54,000 officers and men whose graves are not known.
These photos were taken in March 2015 by Patterdale residents Neil and Judith Sullivan, who were visiting the area to pay their respects to Judith’s Uncle, 1484 Private Harold Arthur Allen of “D” Company of the 6th Battalion of The King’s Liverpool Regiment, who died on the 20th April 1915 and is buried at Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery.