Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Front Page -

Source: Aus­tralian War Me­mo­rial. ES­TAB­LISHED in 1899, Perth Foot­ball Club had won a premier­ship and sev­eral runnerup rib­bons when Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Joseph Cook de­clared Australia was at war with Ger­many on Au­gust 5, 1914, a day af­ter Bri­tain’s dec­la­ra­tion.

Play­ing mem­bers of the club, based at the WA Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion ground un­til its move to Lath­lain Park in 1959, were among thou­sands of fit young West Aus­tralian men who an­swered the call to arms.

It is be­lieved more than 50 play­ers and of­fi­cials from the club en­listed in WWI; 14 of th­ese died.

Club spokesman Peter Kennedy said one of those was Der­was ‘Dave’ Cum­ming, who died on the West­ern Front in 1918.

He made his se­nior de­but for the club in the WAFL against East Perth on June 22, 1907, as a 15 year old, mak­ing him one of only four peo­ple con­firmed to have played se­nior WAFL foot­ball be­fore their 16th birth­day. He played 51 games for the Demons be­tween 1907 and 1914.

Aus­tralian War Me­mo­rial records show that he and el­der brother Red­mond en­listed in the Aus­tralian Im­pe­rial Force in Septem­ber, 1914. Red­mond went into the 16th Bat­tal­ion, while Der­was later ac­cepted a com­mis­sion as a sec­ond lieu­tenant in the 48th Bat­tal­ion at the West­ern Front.

Even­tu­ally at­tain­ing the rank of cap­tain, Cum­ming fought with distinc­tion on the Somme and at Pass­chen­daele and was awarded the Mil­i­tary Cross at Messines in 1917.

In April, 1918, his com­pany was in­stru­men­tal in re­pelling a Ger­man attack near Al­bert.

Cum­ming’s con­spic­u­ous gal­lantry and abil­ity in com­mand re­sulted in him be­ing awarded the Dis­tin­guished Ser­vice Or­der.

In May, 1918, as the 48th Bat­tal­ion con­ducted an op­er­a­tion in Mon­u­ment Wood near the vil­lage of Villers-Bre­ton­neux, Cum­ming was killed by Ger­man ma­chine guns while lead­ing his com­pany. He was buried by his com­rades, but his grave was sub­se­quently lost and he has no known rest­ing place.

He was posthu­mously awarded a Mil­i­tary Cross and Bar for his ac­tion, ac­cepted by his mother from His Royal High­ness the Prince of Wales at a cer­e­mony in Perth in 1920.

Far left is Lieu­tenant (Lt) Der­was Goring Charles Cum­ming and on the far right is his brother, Lt Red­mond Harry Owen Cum­ming, with two uniden­ti­fied sol­diers.

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