The following two soldiers were not related. They are grouped together simply because they close together on the Grange Hill War Memorial. They were officers from middle class families from Hoylake and Frankby respectively.
EDWARD NIELSON CROOKS
Edward came from a wealthy middle class family which typified a lot of Merseysiders at this time, in that it had Scottish roots and had earned its money by being involved in Liverpool’s overseas trade. We first come across his family in the 1861 census, which shows his grandparents – Robert Crooks (born in Kilmarnock in about 1823) who was a “Colonial Merchant” and Mary Urquhart (born in about 1822 in Glasgow) – living at Sandown Park in Wavertree, Liverpool. The couple had three children and three servants. By 1871, the 17 year-old James Kirk Crooks was described as the head of the household and was living at 11 St. George’s Terrace on Victoria Road, Liscard, Wirral with his siblings Mary aged 11, Edward Victor aged 5, Arthur aged 9 and two visitors. James was employed as a “Clerk to the South American Merchants”. There were two visitors in the household – Margaret Kirk and Frances ? who were annuitants. It is certainly an unconventional household, as it is not clear why a 17 year-old had been left in charge. Perhaps his widowed mother was temporarily absent from the home.
By 1881, the family were living at 69 Edge Lane in West Derby, Liverpool. Now, in addition to the children recorded in 1871, there was another boy called Fleming Crooks, aged 25, who like his elder brother was described as a “General Merchant”. Edward Victor Crooks (the father of our casualty) was 16 years of age and still at school. Remarkably, the family employed a cook, a waitress, a house servant and a coachman, who lived in an annexe just behind the main house.
By 1901, old Mary Crooks (now aged 79) was living in The Grange in Noctorum, Wirral with her three domestic staff – a cook, a waitress and a housemaid. She had three visitors – a domestic servant from Liverpool called Rachel Simpson, but, more importantly for our purposes, Edward Victor Crooks (now aged 36 and employed as a “Notary Public”, i.e. a solicitor) and his son Edward Nielson Crooks (aged two). Edward had married Mabel Nielson from Birkenhead in the June quarter of 1897. In 1911 Edward and Mabel were living at Overstrand – an eleven roomed house on South Parade in Hoylake – with their son Ronald Victor Fleming Crooks and four servants – a cook, a parlour maid, a domestic nurse and a housemaid. Edward Nieson was boarding about a mile away at the Leas School on Meols Drive. He later attended Charterhouse School.
Edward entered Sandhurst Military Academy in November 1916 and passed out into the 12th Battalion of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps in September 1917. The battalion was part of K2, in other words the second wave of Kitchener’s New Armies, on 21st September 1914 at Winchester. By the time Edward had joined it, the battalion had been in France for over two years. It was part of 60th Brigade 20th (Light) Division and was engaged in much heavy fighting on the Western Front.
The Birkenhead News of 17th April 1918 said that he had arrived in France on 22nd October 1917 and had fought in the Battle of Cambrais in November of that year; he had become an intelligence officer and was attached to the general staff. It went on to say that “He was engaged in the recent heavy fighting, and whilst riding with his second in command, he was struck by a shell and was mortally wounded. News of his death has been communicated in a letter received from his company commander”.
The poor young man’s medals were eventually posted to his parents at “Overstrand” in Hoylake. His will was proved on 13th August 1918 and his effects, valued at £257 4s 9d, were passed to his father.
Birth: 1899 in Hoylake
Death: 22nd March 1918, died of wounds aged 19
Addresses: Overstrand, South Parade, Hoylake (1917)
Occupation: Army Officer
Unit: 12th Bn The King’s Royal Rifle Corps
Number and Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Medals: British War and Victory
Buried and/or commemorated: GH, H, France: Aisne, Foreste Communal Cemetery I. D. 3.
Sources: BR, CWGC, SDGW, MC, BN, DA, Prob, Census: 01, 11. In addition, Edward’s Service Papers are available at the National Archives, but have not yet been consulted. Reference: WO 339/76464
HUGH LOCKWOOD CRUTTWELL
Hugh was the son of Clement Alfred William Cruttwell (1849-1929) and Louisa Harriett Northey Hopkins (1851-1919), who had married in the September Quarter of 1878 in Gloucestershire. Clement was a Church of England clergyman; at the time of Hugh’s death, he was vicar of Frankby, living in the parish vicarage. He was born in St. Pancras in London and had attended Oxford University. His elder brother, Charles Thomas Cruttwell, was also a clergyman and became Rector of Denton, Norfolk. Louisa was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, the daughter of Richard (born in 1811) and Susannah Hopkins (born in 1824). Further information about the Northey family to which Louisa was connected can be found here.
In common with the family of the first soldier in this post, the Cruttwells were clearly well-educated, middle class and comparatively wealthy. In the 1911 Census we find them living in the thirteen-roomed vicarage and employing three servants – Hannah Till/Sill from Nantwich, Amy Jones a cook from Newtown, Montgomeryshire and Mary Jane Lawney, a housemaid from Liverpool. The family were also accommodating two visitors – Kate NcCann from Dublin (she herself was a domestic servant and so might have been a friend of one of the domestic staff in the house) and Emma Violet a Tailoress from Wybunbury in Cheshire. The birth places of the Cruttwell children show us that the family must have lived in Middlewich, Audlem and Nantwich in Cheshire before moving to Frankby.
There were 10 Cruttwell children, all of whom survived infancy; in addition to Hugh Lockwood, there were:
Charles Northey 1879-1950
Clement Chadwick 1880-1951
Cecil Godfrey 1883-1945
Herbert Sanders 1884-1957
Constance M. 1885-1928
Victor Arthur 1887-1944
Amy Beatrice E. 1889-1921
Reginald Quentin C. 1892-1968
Gerald Layard 1894-1958
At least five of the boys served in the Great War. As was its wont, the Birkenhead News of 6th February 1915 celebrated the family’s commitment to the war effort:
Concerning the girls in the family, it is worth mentioning that Amy Beatrice married 2nd Lieutenant Henry W. Holmes of the Royal Engineers and Royal Flying Corps at Frankby on 2nd March 1918.
Clement Chadwick Cruttwell was the father of Hugh Percival Cruttwell (1918-2002), whose Guardian obituary can be read here. He was a clebrated head of RADA and married the actress Geraldine McEwan.
Hugh Lockwood attended Denstone College between 1895 and 1900, where he was Heywood Scholar, prefect and house captain. He then became an engineer and worked firstly in London and then on the Bengal Magpur Railway in India. Hugh married Dorothy Waterhouse Hodgson, the daughter of the Reverend A. Taylor Hodgson of Cranworth Rectory in Norfolk; the couple had one daughter.
In about 1915, he was invalided home from India and later joined the 118th Siege Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery as a gunner. The battery was a New Army unit which went to France on 27th June 1916 and saw action at the Somme, at Ypres and at Arras. It was withdrawn from active duty on 12th November 1917, having been involved in the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchandaele), the battle in which Hugh was killed. There are two accounts of his death. The first appears in Occasional Gunfire: The Private War Diary of a Siege Gunner:
“A few days later our infantry launched another attack. We were enfiladed all morning by a gun from the south; but no serious casualties until 9:30 a.m., when a shell dropped behind Number 1 gun, wounding Lieut. Hanson and six of the gun detachment. Lieut. Cruttwell, who was at the rear billets, was immediately ‘phoned for, and came up with a gun detachment which had only gone off duty at Zillebeke on the previous day. The came up so speedily that they were in time to assist in getting the wounded safely down the line, when Mr. Cruttwell took Mr. Hanson’s place as Section Commander. He had only fired two rounds when a hostile shell dropped right on top of the Section Commanders post. Mr. Cruttwell was killed outright, five gunners seriously wounded and a signaller buried.”
and the second comes from the Battery War Diaries for 12th October 1917:
“An attack was launched by us at 5.25am and was successful. The gun on the new position was got ready for action. About 10am, after the attack, the two guns in Zillebeke were shelled by the enemy. Lieut Cruttwell was killed and Lieut Hanson wounded. Nine other ranks were wounded at the same time.”
This was yet another highly educated and promising young man whose life was extinguished by the war in which he and his brothers served with apparent enthusiasm and selflessness. We feel enormous compassion for the Cruttwell family which must have gone through unspeakable levels of worry and despair during the four years of the Great War, doubtless not only on account of their own family members who were in harm’s way, but also because of numerous parishioners who must also have been in a similar position during that time.
Birth: 13th September 1881 in Chepstow, Monmouthshire
Death: 12th October 1917, aged 36
Addresses: The Vicarage Frankby?
Unit: 118th Siege Battery Royal Garrison Artillery
Number and Rank: CC/654 Gunner and 2nd Lieutenant
Medals: British War and Victory, Recommended for the Military Cross
Buried and/or commemorated: GH, F. Belgium, Ypres, The Huts Cemetery, IX. D. 4.
Sources: BR, CWGC, SDGW, MC, Census: 1911; Great War Forum Contributions and Ancestry Family Trees. In addition, Hugh’s Service Papers are available at the National Archives, but have not yet been consulted. Reference: WO 339/85287