Welcome to my blog......

The purpose of this blog is to remember the fallen heroes of the Great War, whose names are recorded on the memorial plaque situated in St Barnabas Church, New Whittington, Chesterfield.

To mark the centenary of World War 1 I aim to research all of the men on the memorial. I hope to ensure that the brave men who gave their lives for their country 100 years ago are remembered and each man's story told.

I would love to hear from anyone who may have information regarding the men; photos, letters or passed down memories. Any descendents are most welcome to contact me and I will provide copies of the research that I have undertaken.

"They shall not grow old, as we that are left to grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them"

For The Fallen,
Laurence Binyon September 1914.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

GEORGE CROSSDALE

GEORGE CROSSDALE


Lance Corporal

2nd Battalion South Wales Border Regiment

Killed in action - 11th April 1918


MILITARY MEDAL RECIPIENT




George joined the army in the name of CROSSDALE however his birth was registered with the name spelt slightly different - CROAYSDILL.  The spelling of his surname appears as many different versions throughout the life time of his family, as many people of that time were unable to read or write we will probably never know what the correct spelling is.  The spelling on the St Barnabas War Memorial is CROSDALE.

George was born in the early months of 1898 the son of John and Sarah, one of eight children born into the Croaysdill household.  John was from Belper in Derbyshire but he had met Sarah Ann Horn and the couple married at Sarah's local church in Staveley on 8th April 1889.  John was working as a boot maker at the time, he had taken his father's trade.

The Croaysdill family were living at 85 London Street in New Whittington when the 1901 census was taken.  John was now employed as a plasterer's labourer, no longer a boot maker.  George was a toddler aged 3 years old, his siblings were: John aged 12, Thomas aged 10, Florence aged 8, Arthur aged 7 and baby Mary Ann just 6 months of age.  

1911 the eve of war....

George was 13 years of age, he would have left school at 12 years of age however the census return doesn't list an occupation for him.  The family had moved house to live just along the road at number 45 London Street.  George's brother Thomas was working as a coal miner, his sister Florence was in service and Arthur was an iron moulder.  There were two new additions to the family: Margaret "Maggie" and Sarah Ann.

Older brother John had flown the nest, he was serving with the 1st Battalion Notts & Derby Regiment (Sherwood Foresters).  In 1911 he was stationed at Gough Barracks, Trimulgherry, India.  John's death is recorded in army records as 10th October 1913 at Netley Military Hospital, Southampton.  


George's war....

Unfortunately George's service records have not survived.  We can piece together some of his war service using contemporary newspaper articles, battalion war diaries, medal cards and medal rolls.

George was said to have enlisted sometime in 1915.  If this was the case then he would have been around 17 years of age.  The legal age limit to join the British Army at that time was 18 to sign up and 19 to serve overseas.  George would be 18 in early 1916, we know that he did not serve overseas during 1915 as he was not awarded the 15 Star Medal. 

Conscription started after the Military Service Bill was passed in January 1916, it deemed that all single men between the ages of 18 and 41 should either sign up immediately, sign up to the Derby Scheme or if they did none of these then the men would be automatically enlisted with effect from March 1916.  George would meet the criteria for general conscription in 1916, if this was how he enlisted then he should not have been called up until he was 19 years of age which would be in the early months of 1917.  

Alternatively, George may well have been one of thousands of under aged "boy soldiers" who lied about their age to fight for King & Country.  

Regiment....

George is documented as serving with both the 2nd and 12th Battalion South Wales Border Regiment.  He was given soldier number 24218.  He appears to have served with the 12th battalion first then been transferred to the 2nd at a later date as this was the battalion he was recorded by the Commonwealth War Grave Commission (CWGC) on his death.

The 12th battalion were a "Bantam Battalion" which would recruit men between 5 ft and 5 ft 3 inches tall with their expanded chest being 34 inches.  Unfortunately, we do not know whether George fell into these height guidelines.  

The 12th battalion were also known as the 3rd Gwent Regiment they were formed in March 1915 and moved to Aldershot in September that year when they became part of the 119th Brigade 40th Division.  The battalion landed at Le Harve on 2nd June 1916.  

They were present at the action following the German retreat behind the Hindenburg Line and at the battle to capture the Fifteen Ravine.  April 1917 found the battalion stationed at Littledale Barracks in the north of France near Equancourt.  The battalion moved off on 8th April headed for Etricourt.  The war diary describes in detail the disciplined way in which the men marched "In single file to Bouchavesnes, in file to Moislains and in fours to Etricourt".  The men would be a sight to be seen no doubt, proud but weary.

Football for heroes....

On 12th April a football match was planned between the 12th and the 18th Battalion South Wales Borders.  The weather disrupted this when the snow came down so heavily the match had to be postponed.  Luckily the next day saw a thaw and the usual April showers throughout the day.  The match was played "From the first the 12th B.N S.W.B was far superior to that of the 18th S.W.B.  The finishing whistle blast found the 12th S.W.B winners by 7 goals to nil".  

The 17th Welch also played against the Machine Gun Coy that night, the winners were the 17th that would play the George's battalion the next night.  Spirits would be high, the battalion were excelling on the football pitch.  

The night of the final came and the 17th Welch were said to have "turned out quite a good team to meet us.  But to no avail.  Final score was:- Borders 3 goals, 17th Welch nil".  The 12th reigned supreme, the two main goal scorers were noted as "Messrs Evans and Palmer".  

Hopefully these two matches would put a smile on the faces of George and his fellow comrades.  They had been away from home for a long time now, living in horrendous conditions.  A simple football match would boost morale and brighten even the most sorry of situations.

Wounded in action....

In May 1917 George received a gunshot wound to his left arm for which he was admitted to the 3rd Stationary Hospital in Rouen, France.  Here he would be given the medical care he needed well away from the dangerous front line.  The stationary hospitals could care for around 400 patients, there were two stationary hospitals per Division.  George's parents received a War Office telegraph telling them of their son's injury, we cannot imagine how they must have felt at this time as they had already lost one son to the war the year earlier. 

The month of May started quite pleasantly, the weather was good, the enemy were quiet and the men were able to spend many valuable days wire cutting around the village of La Vacquerie.  On 5th May the battalion received orders to "raid La Vacquerie with a view to inflicting loss on the enemy, damaging his defences and obtaining identification and material".  The 12th battalion were placed in the front line right attack and the raid was carried out through the day of the 5th May to the morning of the 6th.  For the remainder of the month of May the battalion were put to working parties, clearing up from the raid, tunnelling work, front line around Fifteen Wood and more light hearted entertainment when the Officers and men put on a show with singing and recitals.

Derbyshire Courier 6th October 1917 page 5

Military honours....

A further telegraph was to arrive at the door of London Street in New Whittington in October 1917 which brought good news of George's heroic actions.  These actions had been rewarded and George was "mentioned in dispatches" in the London Gazette on 21st August 1917.  

George was awarded the Military Medal for his deeds on the night of the 4th to the morning of 5th July when "on the occasion of a raid on the enemy's trenches Private Crossdale showed great gallantry and devotion to duty.  When the torpedoes failed to blow in the enemy's wire, he materially assisted in cutting a gap.  His bomb throwing greatly helped the withdrawal of the party".

The war diary for the 12th South Wales Borders on 4th July reads:-

"4th. One lateral patrol sent out on left coy.  Three listening patrols.  No enemy seen.  2nd Lieut H R Hill took a raiding party of 33 other ranks and 2 officers out at 10.30 pm.  They raided Barrack Trench and Barrack Support inflicting casualties on the enemy, and returned at 3 am.  Artillery and machine guns active.  One other rank wounded.  2nd/Lieutenant E Edwards wounded on enemy wire"

War Diary 12th Battalion South Wales Border Regiment
George was presented with this Military Medal on 9th October 1917 whilst the battalion were based at their billets at Doingt.  The actual ceremony took place in the square at Peronne and was conducted by the Company General Sir W P Pulteney.  The battalion were all out on display and were praised for how smart they all looked.

George's parents, family, friends and neighbours in New Whittington must have been so very proud of George, who at only 19 years of age had carried out such a brave and selfless act he had been awarded the Military Medal.

1918....

The 12th battalion were disbanded on 10th February 1918.  Five Officers and 100 men were transferred to the 2nd Battalion South Wales Border Regiment.  It is likely that George was one of these men.

The 2nd Battalion were located at Watou a district of the town of Poperigne in Belgium.  The war dairy records that the reinforcements arrived on 11th February, whilst the battalion were out on the front line.  The next week was spent "cleaning and smartening up" musketry, saluting and arms drills were carried out. They practiced trench to trench attacks under and barrage and spent time on the rifle range.  

At the end of February the men moved to Poperinge billeted on Rue des Furness, from where they carried out work on the army line in groups of 400 men each day.  Then at the beginning of March they took the train the town of Weiltje where they found billets at "English Camp" until on 9th they moved into position on the front line close to Goudberg Spur.  The coming days saw a heavy barrage from the enemy but the 2nd battalion were able to report that "the enemy were driven back to their trenches".  The battalion returned to English Camp on 13th and the "men slept till 12 noon".  The remainder of March continued in this fashion, the men took tours of the trenches and the enemy were particularly active including launching gas shells into the battalion's front line.

On 3rd April at 3.30 pm the battalion took over the line directly in front of the village of Passchendaele Village.  The next two days were fairly quiet and the men were able to send out observation patrols, work on the wires was also achieved.  On the 5th the enemy sent out a barrage of shells killing two men outright, another died of wounds and five were wounded.  The battalion were relieved in the early hours of 9th April and moved by light railway back to Poperinge from where they then route marched to St Janter Biezen.  Moving the next day to Oustersteene where they received orders to retake the village of Estaire.

On the 11th April the enemy launched another attack on the battalion, they managed to surround them and take the battalion headquarters.  The situation was disastrous for the 2nd battalion, chaos ensued and the men became detached from their units "casualties were very heavy and men became disorganised, small parties fighting with different units throughout the remainder of the day".  

The war diary gives the following figures for the days of 11th and 12th April 1918....


"Killed - 18 OR

Wounded - 3 Officers, 146 OR

Wounded and missing - 1 Officer, 12 OR

Missing - 17 Officers, 335 OR

TOTALS - 21 Officers, 511 Ordinary Ranks"

George was killed in action on 11th April 1918 at what would become known as the Battle of Estaires, the opening battle of the Fourth Battle of Ypres which ran from 7th to 29th April 1918.  


George has no known grave, he is remembered on the Ploegstreet Memorial in Belgium, panel 5.


"Private" 24218 George Crossdale was awarded the Victory and British Medals along with his Military Medal for his service.

George is documented as a Private rank until his death when CWGC records state he was Lance Corporal.  His medal roll and the "register of soldiers effects" all state that he was Lance Corporal.  It is likely that he gained this promotion of rank after he was awarded the Military Medal in 1917.

Life went on....

John and Sarah George's parents remained in New Whittington.  In 1939 they were living at 98 Devonshire Avenue and John's occupation is recorded as "retired shoemaker".  John died in 1947 and Sarah followed in 1948, both were aged 79 years of age.

Thomas married Georgina Barker in 1914 and had a daughter named Ivy in 1917.  The family lived in Newbold on Arundel Road and Thomas worked at the colliery.  He died in 1979 aged 88 years old.

Arthur served with the 10th Battalion Sherwood Foresters.  He also gained promotion to the rank of Lance Corporal 18959.  He lost his life on 31st October 1916.  He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.
  

Oddly Arthur's surname has been spelt differently to that of George's on the St Barnabas Church War Memorial.

Mary Ann married Albert Laird in January 1921, they had a son named Jack in 1924.  Albert was a plumber by trade and the family lived at 16 Lower Grove Road in Chesterfield.  Mary died in 1978 aged 78 years old.  

Margaret married John Revell in March 1924 and they had a daughter also named Margaret.  The family moved to Eckington and lived at 54 Sitwell Street, John worked at the colliery as a coal hewer.  Margaret died aged 74 years of age in 1977.

What became of Florence and Sarah Ann is not known at this time.

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If you may be connected to this family or have any further information on George Croaysdill or his family please do either leave comments via the pen icon below or drop me an email.

I hope that I have not given details of living persons, if so please advise and I will remove immediately.

Please note all information has been taken from online indexes and sources.  Due to the sheer numbers of people to be researched I am unable to purchase vital event certificates to confirm my research.

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With kind thanks to the Derbyshire Times Newspaper
for permission to use the photograph of 
George Croaysdill in this blog.


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Ref and further reading  -

Census
Parish registers
Medal rolls
Soldiers who died in the Great war
Register of soldiers effects
Newspaper articles - 
Derbyshire Times 19th May 1917 page 4
Derbyshire Courier 6th October 1917 page 5

CWGC  http://www.cwgc.org

War diaries - 12th Battalion South Wales Border Regiment WO 95 2606/6
                   - 2nd Battalion South Wales Border Regiment WO 95 2304/2