Written by Jeannie Swales
This fine and exceptionally well-preserved example of a World War One officer’s kit can currently be seen in Scarborough Art Gallery as part of the exhibition Remember Scarborough.
The uniform and the trunk and its contents belonged to Lieutenant Walter Herbert Cockerline. Walter was born in Hull on 10 July 1882. His father, who bore the same name, was a wealthy ship owner who ran a fleet of tramp steamers – in 1922 he was knighted, and also served as Sheriff of Hull for a time.
Walter worked for his father and lived in Scarborough with his wife Ethel on Grosvenor Road before being called up in August 1916. His vision wasn’t great, and he’d reached the grand old age of 34, so he avoided frontline action, instead working with the non-combatant Chinese Labour Corps overseeing the construction of railways and other transportation.
He was discharged from the army in April 1919, and returned to Scarborough, where he lived until his death in 1968.
Walter’s relatively uneventful war may explain the fabulous condition of his kit, which comprises a lightweight jacket, trousers, riding breeches, two shirts, soft and stiff collars, socks, braces, silk knitted ties, puttees, stirrups, gas mask bag, a rare canvas wash basin and wash roll.
A grant from the Daphne Bullard Trust, which specialises in textile conservation and display, enabled conservation work to be carried out on these objects before inclusion in Remember Scarborough.
Other objects in the trunk – a bedroll, Brodie helmet, leather webbing, notebooks and maps – were in good enough condition to be cleaned and conserved in-house in preparation for display.
Remember Scarborough commemorates the events of 16 December 1914, when German battlecruisers opened fire on the town, killing 18 people, and injuring many more.
It can be seen at Scarborough Art Gallery until 4 January 2015. The Gallery is open from 10am to 5pm every day except Monday, plus bank holidays. For further information, please visit the Scarborough Museums Trust website: scarboroughmuseumstrust.org.uk
The Cockerline uniform is part of Scarborough Collections, the name given to all the museum objects that have been acquired by the borough over the years, and now in the care of Scarborough Museums Trust. For further information, please contact Collections Manager Jennifer Dunne on Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org or 01723 384510.