A.B. Frederick Currie McCRERIE


Regiment/Service:
Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve
Unit:
Drake Battalion, R.N. Division
Service Number:
Bristol Z/5287
Date of Death:
23 April 1917 - Missing, later reported killed in action  
Age:
29
Cemetery / Memorial:
Memorial Reference:
Bay 1.


Personal History:

Frederick was born on 1 September 1887, the son of the late Joseph (Clothier) and Mary (née Naden) McCrerie at 17 Dale Street, Buxton. He had three younger siblings, Joseph C., Wilhelmina and Margaret. (1891 Census RG12/2779 and 1901 Census RG 13/3272) Mary died in the June quarter 1894, about the time of Margaret's birth, when the family were living in Stockton-on-Tees, and Joseph remarried Adelaide Oddy (September quarter 1894). Later the family moved back to 19 High Street, Buxton. In 1911 the family were at 75 Spring Gardens, Buxton, and Frederick was working as a "Clothiers Assistant", no doubt in his father's business.

The 'Buxton Advertiser' of 26th May 1917, reporting him as "Missing" since 23rd April, confirmed that he was the son of Joseph, a "Clothier and Outfitter" of High Street, Buxton. "Among Fairfield Wesleyans he was particularly well known and greatly respected, being a member of the choir and a constant attender at the Sunday School. The hope is entertained that he may be a prisoner, and this, his many friends trust, may well turn out to be the case." Sadly, it did not.

Military History:
Frederick enlisted on the 9th December 1915 and entered the War on the 17th July 1916. He was posted to the BEF on the 21st November 1916, just after The Battle of the Ancre, a phase of the Battles of the Somme, and joined the Drake Battalion on the 12th December 1916.

The Drake Battalion transferred from the 1st Royal Naval Brigade to the 2nd Royal Naval Brigade on the 5th July 1916 and redesignated as part of the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division on 19 July 1916. Frederick would have seen action during The Operations on the Ancre (January-March 1917).

As stated above, Frederick was originally reported missing on 23rd April 1917 and on the 5th June 1917 he was reported buried in support trenches West of Gavrelle B.30c (1/40,000 51.B) about 1st - 3rd June 1917 by 18th West Yorkshire Regiment. On 14th December 1920 his family were informed by Director of Graves Registration and Enquiries that he had been provisionally reported buried at Gavrelle (51b).  It is possible that Frederick was buried in the Naval Trench Cemetery, named from a second-line trench made by the 63rd Division in the summer of 1917. However, his grave was subsequently lost, perhaps by shellfire, and he is now commemorated on the Arras Memorial.

The Battalion War Diary over the period Frederick was killed in action reads as follows:

"GAVRELLE
21st: 5pm Battn relieved Hood Battn, relief complete 11.20pm. Battn HQ moved to gun pits on right of ARRAS - GAVRELLE road at H.4.c.6.8.
22nd: Preparations for attack on GAVRELLE.
23rd: 4.45 a.m. Zero. Barrage opened & Nelson & Drake advanced to the attack. Nelson took from the road down the centre of the village to the left & Drakes to the right from the road. Hoods advanced in close support to mop up the village. Our objective was reached by 6.30am. We dug in fifty yards beyond Sunken Road from C.25.d.6.4 - C.25.b.8.9. Our front was held by C, B, D Coys from left to right with A Coy in reserve in the Sunken Road. Roughly 2 off & 150 prisoners from 85th IR were 1917
GAVRELLE
April 23rd taken by the Battn. The day was spent in improving the position. During the afternoon bodies of the enemy in extended order were observed coming over the crest between OPPY & FRESNES-LES-MONTAUBAN.
24th The Germans made a strong counter attack at 3 p.m. & were completely repulsed by our barrage & rifle fire. The Germans suffered very heavily.
St CATHERINES
25th 4 a.m. Relieved by Howe Battn & marched back to bivouacs at St Catherines.
MAROEUIL
3 p.m. Marched to billets at Maroeuil arriving at 5 p.m.

Total number of casualties sustained during operations.
                    Killed     Died of Wounds     Wounded    Missing    Total
Officers          4                   1                          5                0           10
Men              23                   2                      232              36          293    

26th-27th Day spent in cleaning up. Corps Commander congratulated CO on the Battalion.
Greetings received from II ANZAC Corps on anniversary of landing at Gallipoli.
FREVILLERS
28th  1.15 p.m. Battn left Maroeuil & marched to Frevillers arriving 6.30pm.
MAGNICOURT
29th 11.0 a.m. Battn moved into billets at Magnicourt arriving 12 noon.
30th Day spent in cleaning up - all the Battn had a bath. "

Casualties were, however, much higher as the CWGC records show that Frederick was one of 75 members of his Battalion killed on the 23rd April 1917. This coincided with the first day of The Second Battle of the Scarpe (23rd -24th April 1917), a phase of the Arras Offensive, in which his Division (63rd [Royal Naval] Division) captured Gavrelle, on thr 23rd April 1917, lost on the 28th March 1918, and reoccupied by the 51st (Highland) Division on the following 27 August.


                               

Sources:
· The Buxton Advertiser, 26th May 1917
· I am grateful to Chris (Johnno) for the photo of Frederick's name on The Arras Memorial
· ...... and to John Morcombe for the War Diary extract

Commemorated on:
Link to CWGC Record
Inscription on the Arras Memorial
AB McCrerie's name on the Arras Memorial
poppy
about the Second Battle of Scarpe