John Sidney Cull was Badsey born and bred. Private (or Lance Corporal as it appears on the Badsey memorial, which is thought to be an error) Cull’s name is recorded on the war memorial in St James’ Church, Badsey, at Badsey School, on Broadway War Memorial, on the Roll of Honour in St Michael & All Angels Church in Broadway, and on the Tehran Memorial, Iran.
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John Sidney Cull (or Jack as he was more commonly known) was born at Badsey on 2nd November 1890 and baptised two months later in St James’ Church, Badsey. He was the sixth of ten children of John Ernest and Ruth Cull. He had two older brothers (Walter John and Alfred Ernest), two older sisters (May Sylvester and Lilian Ruth), one younger brother (Edgar George) and three younger sisters (Hilda Annie, Laura Beatrice and Evelyn Lavinia).
Jack’s father was a master baker who had opened a bakery in Badsey in 1882 in a building on the High Street which he named The Sumacs (present-day No 18). Jack attended Badsey School from 1893-1903. On leaving school, he joined his father in the business. In his spare time, Jack was a chorister at Badsey Church.
When the First World War began, Jack initially offered his services in August 1914, but was rejected on medical grounds. Two months later he was passed as “fit” and enlisted in the Queen’s Own Worcestershire Hussars (Worcestershire Yeomanry). He then transferred to 15th Squadron Machine Gun Corps (Cavalry).
At some stage, after a machine-gun course, Jack went out to Mesopotamia as a mounted machine-gunner, in which capacity he saw a considerable amount of fighting. This would have been some time after 1915 as he was not eligible for the 1915 Star medal.
In 1916, probably just before going overseas, Jack married Maud Marion Richardson. A son, Robin, was born on 19th June 1917.
Sadly, just weeks before the end of the war, Jack Cull contracted influenza and died at Bijar in modern-day Iran on 25th October 1918. News did not reach Badsey until 11th November. According to the Parish Magazine of December, “just as the bells were celebrating the armistice with a merry peal, Mr Cull received a telegram to the effect that his son, Pte J S Cull, had died of influenza.” It went on to say: “Mrs Cull recently received a letter written by Pte Cull on October 9 in which he stated that, although there had been fatal cases of influenza, he was in the best of health. A memorial service arranged for November 22 was postponed owing to the Vicar’s illness.”
The memorial service at Badsey was eventually held on 19th December. Jack’s mother, Ruth, later received a letter of sympathy from one of Jack’s officers, which was published in the April 1919 Parish Magazine:
I have found your husband the most willing and obliging man I have ever met. I can honestly say that he was the best man I had under my command. We have been together under fire, and he displayed a coolness and courage any man might envy. He was most popular amongst all ranks and his loss is keenly felt amongst both officers and men.
As Jack died of ‘flu, one assumes that he was buried at Bijar where he died but his grave is not marked. Instead, he is commemorated on the Tehran Memorial in Iran.
Jack’s grieving parents, John and Ruth Cull, remained in Badsey for the rest of their lives. Jack’s widow, Maud, was living at 4 White City Estate, Broadway, at the time that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission were last in touch with her regarding her husband’s death. She did not remarry and died in the Croydon area in 1981. Jack’s son, Robin, died in the Ipswich area in 1988.