The Co-operative News reports that on 1 May 1915 Private Gordon Sutton was killed while fighting on the Western Front, although other military records date his death to the following day. He was an employee of the Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS) Leicester Boot and Shoe Works. Sutton enrolled in the army in August 1914 at the outbreak of war, this meant that he joined voluntarily, before conscription was introduced in 1916.
The CWS agreed to support employees who volunteered to fight by continued payment of their full wages, minus the allowances they received from the government and their thrift fund contributions. They also guaranteed the soldiers their employment in the Society when they returned.
Co-operative News, 12 June 1915, page 795.
WWI co-operative voices
This post is part of ‘WWI co-operative voices’ which shares the stories of co-operative workers and members during the conflict. In order to mark the centenary of the WWI, the Rochdale Pioneers Museum is staging an exhibition entitled ‘From shop floor to front line’ and the accounts of these soldiers, shop workers and conscientious objectors will run alongside it. They are tales of death, duty and of those who chose not to fight.
Through ‘WWI co-operative voices’ we will be releasing new posts about these individuals throughout the duration of the exhibition (due to open mid-May 2015 and run until May 2016). Read about the co-operative movement’s involvement in a war that shook the world by selecting a name from the column on the left. You can also follow us on social media for regular updates.
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We wish to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting the ‘From shop floor to front line’ exhibition and project.