Herbert Muschamp Lingford
By June Parkin
Herbert Lingford was born in Bishop Auckland in 1891. His father, Ernest, was the second-generation owner of the family provisions supplier business and manufacturer of Lingford’s Baking Powder.
In 1910 the family moved to Cotherstone, to Lancelands, their newly built country house. They are recorded there in the 1911 Census with the number of rooms stated as ten.
However, Herbert was with at student friend’s house in Anglesey on Census night and is described as a student of Law, although this may inaccurate as he is later said to have an Msc. in Chemistry. After university he joined the family firm.
In September 1915 Herbert married Dorothea Saville, the daughter of a local Baptist minister and in July 1916 their son Kenneth was born.
When conscription was introduced, Herbert appealed as a Conscientious Objector and his case was heard at a Military Tribunal at Startforth on the 21st June 1916. He was granted Exemption from Combatant Service,
conditional on joining the Friends’ Ambulance Unit.
He trained at Jordans Camp, Buckinghamshire and was then sent to Uffculme Hospital, Birmingham. This centre had been the home of Richard Cadbury, a famous Quaker and from 1916 was used to look after disabled ex-servicemen.
Herbert also served abroad and the Teesdale Mercury of September 13th ,1916 carried a report of him sailing to Salonica in Greece (now Thessalonika). This was in the Glenart Castle a well -equipped hospital ship with 460 beds, ferrying casualties and those suffering from malaria between Greece and Malta. This is confirmed by the record of his service for the Victory and British War Medals.
Herbert left the ship in September 1916 and returned to service at Jordans and Uffculme. On 26 Feb 1918, despite being lit up at night as was required of Hospital ships, she was sunk by a torpedo from the U-Boat UC-56. Sinking in a short space of time and with most lifeboats damaged by the blast, only 32 Survivors were found. 162 personnel had perished, including most of the crew, eight nurses, and seven Medical officers along with 99 of their patients.
Herbert was demobilised in February 1919 and was awarded the British War and Victory medals. Returning to his life in Cotherstone, he was a well-liked employer and a report in the ‘Teesdale Mercury’ of July 14th,1937 described a works outing.
In the 1939 register he is recorded as an Air Raid Precautions Warden.
In 1950 Herbert Lingford’s body was found in Flatts Wood in mysterious circumstances. His death was reported in the Teesdale Mercury of April 26th as accidental. He was fulsomely praised as ‘a leader among the Friends, a scholar, a naturalist, a Justice of the Peace in Durham and the North Riding, a man of true dignity in all his ways’. However, when the inquest was reported on May 17th, the verdict was suicide in an unknown mental state.