Henry Creighton COCKBURN, 3rd Bn Coldstream Guards

Discussion in 'The Brigade of Guards' started by Stephen Cockburn, Jul 9, 2011.

  1. Stephen Cockburn

    Stephen Cockburn Junior Member


    I'm a new user on here and registered especially as my Fathers Uncle Henry Creighton Cockburn came up here on a search I was doing. I would be very grateful if anyone had any information about him and could pass it on to me and my family.

  2. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Hello and welcome to the forum Stephen. I've moved your post over to a thread of its own.

    Do you have any information about your grand uncle at all? Whether he was taken prisoner, died of wounds etc?

    Copy service records can be applied for - just enclose a copy of the CWGC certificate. A fee is payable but since he died more than 25 years ago you can apply without permission of next of kin.

    Enquiries should be addressed to The Regimental Archivist, H.Q. Coldstream Guards, Wellington Barracks, Birdcage Walk, London, SW1E 6HQ.

    I've had a look through my notes but found nothing. It'd be hard to establish just what happened to him without a mention somewhere in perhaps the War diaries for his batalion, which I do not have. Most of those buried in Milan died as Prisoners of war or were re-interred from elsewhere after the war, so it's probably not a simple case of looking up his date of death in the Diary and hoping that there'll be a clue in the day's entry.

    For what it's worth, from The Coldstream Guards 1920-1946, Howard & Sparrow, for that day:
    So on the morning of the 3rd August the Coldstream passed through the ruins of Impruneta and began to clear the enemy from the villas, the vineyards, the gardens, and the orchards which lay beyond, on the last lap of the road to Florence. In the afternoon 4 Company, advanced through shell-fire to take the village of Sand Gersole, three miles short of Florence, where it discovered an anti-tank gun apparently abandoned; but its crew was still in the villages, resting in belief that the British were still some miles away, and a brisk fight followed during which the Germans made a strong-point of the church. At nightfall they still held half the town, but they slipped away during the darkness while the battalion was being shelled by the heavy guns of the Gothic Line. Soon afterwards the sound of five gigantic explosions was heard: the Florentine bridges had been blown.

    Guardsman HENRY CREIGHTON COCKBURN 854578, 3rd Bn., Coldstream Guards who died age 31 on 03 August 1944
    Son of John and Blanche Cockburn, of North Shields, Northumberland.
    Remembered with honour MILAN WAR CEMETERY
    Grave/Memorial Reference: I. E. 1.

    Photo courtesy of Martin14 who photographed some headstones in Milan
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019
  3. Stephen Cockburn

    Stephen Cockburn Junior Member

    Thank you Diane, I will pass this information on to my Father. I still have some lines of enquiry to follow but it seems that most of the information we have is from an old newspaper cutting is as follows:

    "The name of Guardsman Henry Creighton Cockburn, aged 31, second son of Mrs B. Cockburn, of Trinity Street, North Shields, will be mentioned in the roll of honour at a Remembrance Service in London tomorrow for the Coldstream Guards, conducted by the Chaplain to the Brigade of Guards, the Rev Hugh R. Norton. News of his death in Italy, "Killed skirmishing" was received last week by his mother, with a letter of sympathy from the lieut.-colonel commanding the Coldstream Guards.

    Guardsman Cockburn had served for seven years abroad, and was wounded while taking part in the Middle East campaign. He was convalescent for five months and showed his gratitude for all that was done by giving a pint of blood for another soldier in hospital.


    While fighting at Tobruk in June 1942, he was taken prisoner and sent to a concentration camp in Italy. With the capitulation of Italy last September, however, he managed to escape. He did not stay in hiding, but fought against the enemy presumably with small groups of Allied men, but not with the recognised Army in Italy. Since that time no news was received until about two months ago when a letter arrived (but not from him) stating that he was safe andd well. The next news was that of his death.


    Guardsman Cockburn was a native of North Shields and was educated at the Western Board School. Before joining the Army he was a miner at Backworth Colliery.
    He has two younger brothers in the services-Pte. Wilfred Cockburn, aged 27 with the R.A.S.C. in France and Pte. Albert Cockburn 24, who has just returned from service abroad with the Royal Marines."
  4. grunson

    grunson Member

    Henry would seem to have received the General Service Medal with Clasp 'Palestine' which was awarded for service in Palestine in 1936-1939 (1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).

    I've attached the page from WO 100/502 "General Service Medal 1918-1962: Clasp Palestine: Royal Engineers, Royal Signals, Coldstream Guards" which also includes some handwritten text with 1944 and 1945 dates on it, which I'll leave to experts to decipher.


    Attached Files:

  5. Stephen Cockburn

    Stephen Cockburn Junior Member

    Thank you grunson, I'll be interested to see what the text deciphers!
  6. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    Some escaped POWs worked with the partisans under BLOs (British Liaison Officers) I'll look at the Italian SOE files to see if there is any info there. However had he crossed back to Allied Lines he may have rejoined a Guards Bn in Italy
  7. kevino

    kevino Junior Member

    ECF10CD5-3C0A-46A2-9E2E-5AF646613BB6.jpeg Hi Stephen, quite by chance while visiting the Milan War Cemetary today (while researching the crew from a downed Whitley (N1497) that was shot down in Italy) I came across 854578 H.C Cockburn’s grave. It’s right next to the grave of Kenneth Higson who died at the controls of N1497..I took a pic to show to an ex guardsman friend of mine and then came across this thread :)
    dbf and Tullybrone like this.
  8. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    Thanks for posting the image.:poppy:

    The OP hasn’t been on the forum since 2012 but I’ve sent him a message to alert him to your post.

    There are other sources if information that have become open since the OP made his initial post that might’ve assisted him in finding out more about his great uncles death.

    dbf likes this.
  9. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    R.A. attestations:




    Previously posted as Missing now Prisoner of War:


    90 Brookland Terrace, Tynemouth C.B., Northumberlandd
    Blanche Cockburn 12 Apr 1892 Unpaid Domestic Duties
    Sorry, this record is officially closed.
    Tullybrone likes this.
  10. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member

    Thanks for attaching details from some of the sources which have become publically available in the last few years.

    RA Attestation suggests CG enlistment December 1936 so he would’ve likely had a CG number in the series 26576?? had he enlisted direct to CG at that time.

    He was wounded in May 1941 when 3rd CG were in the vicinity Sollum/Halfaya Pass just before Rommel’s counterattack of 26/27th May when the unit withdrew, via Knightsbridge Box, to Tobruk where the bulk of the Battalion were captured.

    There must be an interesting back story to his burial in Milan Aug 1944 when his parent unit was in action many miles to the south. I’d agree with Jedburgh’s supposition that he was an escaped POW after the Italian armistice who had somehow joined up to fight with Italian Partisans and was subsequently killed. An enquiry with ICRC ought to clarify his POW status.


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