TWO Darlington soldiers died on November 11, 1918, as the nation greeted the news that the war was over – but neither of wounds.

Both succumbed to the flu which killed more people than the war – about 40m died by warfare and 100m died by epidemic.

Sapper Sidney Tweedy, 24, of the Royal Engineers died in the 10th Canadian Stationary Hospital at Sangatte, near Calais. He was the son of the assistant overseer of Darlington council, and his home address was 5, Danesbury Terrace – we think this was the name given to the substantial terrace on the east side of Greenbank Road at the top of Gladstone Street.

The poor chap must have caught the flu at the front and was making his way homeward when he died.

Before the war, he had worked as a loco fitter for the North Eastern Railway so the Head of Steam museum has a picture of him.

The Northern Echo:

ARMISTICE DEATH: Pte Bertram Whitfield died on November 11, 1918, and is buried in Darlington's North Cemetery

We can’t find of a picture of Private Bertram Whitfield, 19, who also died on Armistice Day – a truly unlucky soldier.

He’d been born in Colburn, near Richmond, and lived with his parents in Livingstone Buildings – we think this was the name given to the terrace in Northgate beside the petrol station.

Pte Whitfield enlisted on October 30, 1918, and was sent to the Cannock Chase camp in Staffordshire to begin his training. There he caught flu and there, 13 days after joining and on the most joyful day of the year, he died.

His body was sent back to Darlington and he was buried in North Cemetery on November 19, 1918.

MORE than 1,200 Darlington men died in the First World War. If you go to our sister website,, you will find a brilliant searchable database of them all, which has been compiled by historian Stephen Nicholson.

It shows that the first Darlingtonian to die was Gunner George Sunley, 22, the son of a fruit salesman of 18, Forster Street, who was in the Royal Field Artillery in one of the first battles of the war at Le Cateau, near Albert, in northern France.

He died on August 28, 1914 – the only Darlingtonian to fall in that first month.

The Northern Echo: KILLED: L-Cpl Alix Liddle of Darlington

EARLY CASUALTY: Lance Corporal Alix Oliffe Liddle of the Darlington Pals, who was one of the first British soldiers to die in the First World War

Four died in September 1914, 13 in October 1914, nine in November 1914, and five in December 1914, including Cpl Alex Oliffe Liddle, of Sylvan Grove, who was killed on December 16, 1914, in Hartlepool (see Memories 157). He was one of four members of the DLI to be hit by the first shell which landed during the earth-shattering bombardment, making him one of the first soldiers to be killed in warfare on the British mainland for 200 years.

At the other end of the war, Stephen Nicholson’s research shows that 52 Darlingtonians died in October 1918, and another nine died in the first ten days of November 1918.

On Armistice Day itself, November 11, two soldiers died, and in the remainder of the month, a further eight died. Even with peace, the death toll didn’t stop mounting – in December 1918, six Darlingtonians died.

The Northern Echo:

FIRST AND LAST: The Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College memorial board showing Capt Cowper at the top and Cpl Liddle at the bottom. Picture courtesy of Gillian Hunt

The circular nature of how much one medium-sized town suffered in such a short space of time is shown by the memorial board in the town’s Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College (which, for most of its life, was a boys’ grammar school). There is the name of Cpl Liddle, one of the first to die, and just four lines above him but about 1,200 deaths later is the name of Capt Geoffrey Cowper.

Capt Cowper’s family – his father was an iron merchant – lived at 67, Duke Street. His elder brother, Harold, had left the grammar school for Cambridge University in 1898 with the headteacher predicting great things for him as the most talented student of the year.

The Northern Echo: EDUCATION PLACE: The four brothers attended Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Darlington, which was just around the corner from their Milbank Road home

GRAMMAR SCHOOL: An Edwardian postcard of Queen Elizabeth Grammar School attended by Capt Cowper and Cpl Liddle

Tragically, before he got to Cambridge, Harold went for a swim at Runswick Bay and dropped dead as he left the sea.

Geoffrey also made it to Cambridge, to study medicine, and enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps in August 1914. For more than four years in worked in the field hospitals of northern France, patching up the treatable and watching over the last moments of the untreatable, being mentioned in despatches and promoted to captain.

Until October 3, 1918, when a shell landed on top of his first aid post. Four stretcher-bearers and a chaplain were killed outright, and Geoffrey lingered only a couple of hours before becoming one of the last to die.

ANOTHER soldier to die on November 11, 1918. Sapper Robert Chatt, 25, was with the 32nd Light Railway operating Company of the Royal Engineers near Arras, in northern France. He was a locomotive driver.

On the day that war came to an end, “the engine he was controlling run off the line into trees and he was killed instantly”.

He was the “beloved husband” of Ida, of 11, Coronation Street, Barnard Castle, and the only son of Joseph and Margaret, of Startforth.