Blackmore Area Local History

First World War Commemoration:
John Crane

Died in the First World War.
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John Crane

War Memorial: Place and inscription
High Ongar War Memorial

Ongar & District
War Memorial Hospital
Roll of Honour (High Ongar) [ERO A10815]

Rank:
Serjeant

Regiment:
Royal
Munster Fusiliers.  2nd Battalion.  Service No: 9152 [CWGC]

Service Details:
Born: Halesworth,
Suffolk
Enlisted:
Colchester
Resident: Blackmore, Essex  [SDGW]
Awards: D.C.M. [CWGC]

How Sergeant John Crane, Of The 2nd Royal
Munster Fusiliers,Won The D.C.M. At Festubert
     Early on the morning of
December 19th 1914, Sir John Willcocks commanding the Indian corps, decided to take advantage of what appeared to him a favourable opportunity to attack the advanced trenches of the enemy.  The British position at the time on this part of our front extended from Cuinchy on the south, to the west of Neuve Chapelle on the north, passing through Givenchy and a little to the east of Festubert.  That attack was at first successful, but by the evening determined counter attacks had driven the Indian corps back to its original line; and by ten o’clock the next morning, the Germans, following up their advantage, had captured a large part of Givenchy and driven a wedge north of the town which exposed the right flank of the Dehra Dun Brigade, stationed to the northeast of Festubert.  All the afternoon of the 20th these troops suffered severely, being, in the words of Sir John French, “pinned to the ground by artillery fire.”  But, towards evening, strong reinforcements, which included the 2nd Munsters, were hurried up to their support; and in the early hours of the 21st this battalion was ordered to recapture a line of distant trenches, from which the Indians had been driven on the previous day. Just before the order came, a young sergeant of the Munsters, John Crane, had been sent with a message to the 2nd Brigade on their right, and when he returned, he heard that his battalion had charged though no one knew where it had gone or what had happened to it.  The darkness had simply swallowed it up.  The sergeant reported himself to Major Ryan, D.S.O., of the Munsters-a gallant officer who, unhappily, fell a victim to a sniper’s bullet a few weeks later-at the Brigade Headquarters, and when the forenoon passed without bringing any news of the lost battalion, Major Ryan, becoming very anxious, asked Crane if he would go out and try to locate it before darkness set in, telling him that he might take anyone with him whom he wished.  Lance-Corporal, now Sergeant, Eccles at once agreed to accompany him, and about three o’clock in the afternoon they set off having first taken off all their equipment, in order not to impede their movements.
           
The ground in front of the British lines was so swept by shell and rifle fire that they found it necessary to make a wide detour, until they came to an old trench of ours, along which they advanced for some five hundred yards, when, not having seen any signs of the Munsters, they got out again, and, with bullets humming all around them, made their way, by short rushes, for some distance across the open ground until they came upon their battalion, or rather remnants of it.  For it had been badly cut up, and was besides in a very precarious position, having lost its way and being completely isolated.  They returned to their Brigade Headquarters and reported accordingly, and were asked to go out again and guide their comrades back, while arrangements were being made for troops to cover the sorely tried battalion’s withdrawal.  And this task they successfully accomplished, under a heavy fire and through a very difficult country, displaying, says the Gazette, “great courage, endurance and marked resource.” Subsequently, notwithstanding the fatigue, which they must have been suffering, they took out stretcher-bearers and brought in a number of wounded, including the colonel and the adjutant. Sergeant Crane, who is only twenty-three years of age, was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, “for conspicuous gallantry and ability,” and a similar honour was conferred upon Lance-Corporal Eccles.  Extracted from 'Deeds That Thrill The Empire'  [Source:
: http://www.armynavyairforce.co.uk/northamptonshire_reg.htm]

Personal and family information:
Births Mar 1894   Crane John Blything[includes Halesworth] 4a 956
Marriage of parents: Marriages Jun 1886 Crane, George & Alice Maria Pettitt, Blything 4a 1157  [Free BMD]
1901 census: John H Crane son of George and Alice M b. abt 1891
Suffolk, living Hertfordshire
1911 census: There is a John Crane, b. 1891 Halesworth, in an institution in
Andover [army training?]  George and Alice Maria are living in Lexden.
Blackmore connection very doubtful.
No Crane family in Blackmore or High Ongar registers.
No Crane listed on 1910 Electoral Register
Surname does not appear on Electoral Register 1918 [ERO C/E
2/1/1]

Date of Death:
22nd September 1916

Age:
25?

Where died:
Killed in action

Place of Burial or Commemoration:
Thiepval Memorial.  Pier and Face 16 C [CWGC]

List of Sources:
Army Navy Air Force.co.uk, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Essex Record Office, Free BMD, Soldiers who Died in the Great War.







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Go to top Data produced by the Blackmore War Memorial Research Project Group: Bruno Giordan, Diana Abel, Andrew Smith.
Last Updated: 20 May 2010