Durham to host exhibition on Romany war hero John ‘Jack’ Cunningham

12 May 2022
Jack Cunningham

Victoria Cross winner John ‘Jack’ Cunningham’s life and exploits will be the subject of an exhibition that will be part of Durham’s contribution to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month in June.

John Cunningham was born on the 28th June 1897 in Swains Yard, off Manley Street, Scunthorpe. The family later moved to Hull where John attended school before enlisting in the 3rd Hull Battalion when he was 17.

The family were of Romani Gypsy heritage and John was one of the thousands of Gypsies and Travellers who joined the army at the start of the First World War. He served with the East Yorkshire Regiment, guarding the Suez Canal in Egypt, before the regiment moved to France and the Western Front.

On 13 November 1916, when John was just 19 years old, he was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery in the Battle of the Somme.

Read more about John Cunningham – also known as ‘Jack’ - by following this link to The Proud Gypsy Traveller website.

The exhibition has been produced by The Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Service and Community Cohesion Team, Durham County Council, in conjunction with partners from the Durham County Records Office and this will be the first time it will be on public display and this resource will then be available for partners to share and use at future events.

The exhibition will kick-off with a talk by Dawn Layland from Durham County Records Office live at the event. The talk was initially shared online as part of County Durham’s Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration and is extremely informative and interesting.

The event will take place on Wednesday May 18 2022 from 13:00hrs to 15:00hrs at the Durham Room at County Hall, DH1 5UG and there will also be a live stream of Dawn’s talk from 14:00hrs to 15:00hrs.

Please see below a link to join the live stream talk at 14:00hrs: https://youtu.be/9VZnE_p95r4

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