2nd Lieutenant John Cane CRAWFORD


Regiment/Service:
Royal Horse Artillery
Unit:
"F" Battery, 14th Brigade.
Service Number:
n/a
Date of Death:
31 August 1916 - Killed in Action
Age:
18
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Number:
II. J. 8.


Personal History:

John was born at Sandgate, Kent, on 15th December 1897, the son of Lt. Col. John Cane Crawford (1st Battalion Manchester Regt.) and Fanny Maria Elinor (née Harris) Crawford, later of Cranham, Ashtead, Surrey (Married 6th July 1896). [See: Footnote below] In 1901 the family were living at "Croft House" Stalybridge, Cheshire (Census RG 13/3796), with a Nurse and two Cooks.
The 1911 Census (RG 14/18416) shows John as a "Student" and lodging with the Goodwin family at
Diddington Hall, Hampton-In-Arden. His parents and younger sister, Eileen Marion (born 1902), were
also living in Hampton-In-Arden. He later went to School in Cheltenham before joining the Royal Military
Academy in 1914.

John's link to Buxton has not yet been established. At the time of his death in 1916 John's family's home
was stated as Cranham, Ashtead, Surrey, the home of Dr Charles Stubbs [maybe John lived there as a
guest]. Probate Records give his home address as "Fairhaven", Gresham Road Staines, Middlesex.

Military History:
John joined the Royal Military Academy from Cheltenham in 1914. "He was devoted to all outdoor games and sports and was successful in all. With horses he was absolutely fearless, and incidentally won an Officers Jumping Competition at the Bicentenary Sports of the Regiment."

The London Gazette, 21st April 1915, announced that: "The undermentioned Gentleman Cadets, from the Royal Military Academy, to be Second Lieutenants. Royal Horse and Royal Field Artillery. Dated 22nd April, 1915". Among those named was John. Receiving his Commission at just 17 years old, he was posted to a training Brigade, Royal Horse Artillery, and "… had to spend a wearying 18 months in the Garrison Town [Woolwich] before he was old enough for active service."

His Medal Index Card shows that John entered France with his Brigade on 27th June 1916. He was killed in action just over two months later. The unit history does not indicate exactly where they were on 31st August 1916 but does say: "Battery positions during the battle were frequently and heavily shelled. 12th and 31st August, 5th and 6th September being particularly bad days."

The 'Roll of Honour' states that John was: " ... killed instantaneously by a shell as he commanded his Section". His Commanding Officer wrote to John's mother:

"Today he was on duty in the Battery and we have had about as trying a day as one could well get - the Germans started a heavy bombardment soon after eight o'clock in the morning and kept it up incessantly till about 4 p.m. Your son was commanding his Section and sitting at the entrance of one of the dugouts which led into the gun pit; at about 2.30 an unlucky shell entered the rear part of the gun pit, exploding near the entrance of the dug-out in which your son was sitting, killing him instantly."

The Officer commanding the Battery to which John was attached on leaving Woolwich also wrote:

"I knew your boy well for he came to my Battery straight from Woolwich. It was I think the very first day that I remarked to the Colonel ' here is a lad, who, if I am any judge of men, will turn out a British Officer of the best type, he should make a name for himself'. He was, needless to say, very popular, and although we all used at times to rage him we were all very fond of him. I hold that the Regiment has sustained a genuine loss."

John was the only member of his Battery killed by the shell and he now lies in Dantzig Alley
Cemetery, Mametz.

[N.B. The horses who drew the gun-carriage at the funeral of the Unknown Warrior Armistice
Day 1920 served as a team with 'F' Battery RHA they served through the Mons retreat, Marne,
Aisne, Neuve Chapelle, Ypres, Somme and the retreat of March 1918.]


Footnotes:
· John's father, Lt. Col. John Cane Crawford, was a renowed Officer with the Manchester Regiment.

· John's mother, Fanny, was the great-granddaughter of the 1st Lord Harris of Seringapatam.

· John's British War and Victory Medal; Memorial Plaque, and Memorial Scroll were sold at Bonhams
   on the 1st October 1914 (See photo below right)

                                 

Sources:
· I am grateful to Grant Tobin for the photo of John's Grave
· Also to Dick Flory for his note from the Unit History.
· Also to Robert (Great War Forum) for the photo of John from 'The Roll of Honour"
· Also to Brian Bouchard for the information regarding Cranham, Ashtead
· Photo of John's medals from Bonhams website


Commemorated on:



Link to CWGC Record
2/Lt J C Crawford's Grave
2/Lt John Cane Crawford
poppy
about Lt. Col. Crawford
"F" Battery horses passing The Cenotaph, 11 Nov. 1920
Cranham, Ashtead, Surrey