King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment

Black Sheep Sunday – Herbert John Croft (1898-1961)

Herbert John Croft is the husband of my 2nd cousin 2x removed, Agnes Ann Ainsworth.

Agnes was born on 23 September 1898 in Kendal, Westmorland. Her parents are Ralph Ainsworth and Margaret Ann Louisa Birkett. Our common ancestors are John Carradice and Ann Ridley – my 3x great grandparents.

Herbert was born on 7 June 1898, also in Kendal.

When WW1 broke out Herbert enlisted for service with the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment on 28 July 1915. His regimental service number was 19829. His attestation papers show his age as 19 – in fact Herbert would not even be 17 for another two months.

However in just over 12 months Herbert was discharged as being “physically unfit” for service. He attended a medical board on 1 August 1916 and it is reported that around three years earlier he had been in hospital in connection with a heart problem and that since then he had “never had good health or felt perfectly well”. As a result he was finally discharged from military service on 15 August 1916.

About five years later Herbert married Agnes Ann Ainsworth – the marriage is registered in the second quarter of 1921 in Kendal.

Over the next 12 years Herbert seems to have had some “issues”. He appears in the Lancashire Evening Post at least three times (images from http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)

27 August 1921

Herbert John Croft - Lancashire Evening Post 27 August 1921.png

At Kendal, yesterday, Herbert John Croft, junr., was sentenced to one month’s imprisonment with hard labour for drawing out-of-work benefit whilst he was at work. He secured temporary employment to drive a motor ice-cream van, and whilst following that occupation went to the Kendal Labour Exchange and signed the register to the effect that he was out of work.

11 February 1933

Herbert John Croft - Lancashire Evening Post 11 February 1933

At Kendal, yesterday, Herbert John Croft, jun., motor engineer, a native of Kendal, of no fixed address, was remanded in custody until Monday on a charge of stealing an axe valued at 3s. 9d., the property of Messrs M. J. Croft and Son, Wildman Street, Kendal, the previous day.
The Chief Constable (Mr. P. O’Neill) objecting to bail, said there would probably be a more serious charge preferred against Croft.

I haven’t been able to find any other report relating to this offence.

10 June 1933

Herbert John Croft - Lancashire Evening Post - 10 Jun 1933.png

The story of a drunken man who threw a stone across the principal street in Kendal, striking the wall of a public house and narrowly missing women with babies in their arms, was told at Kendal yesterday, when Herbert John Croft, jun., aged 35 years, a Kendal engineer with no fixed address, was summoned for being drunk and disorderly at Highgate, Kendal, on Wednesday, June 7th. Defendant pleaded “Guilty.”
P.C. Marshall said he saw defendant throw the stone, and found two more in his pockets. When spoken to defendant said, “I know what I am doing.”
Defendant, who said he threw the stone at a man who had struck him, was fined £1.

The thing bothering me about the last two newspaper stories is the fact that Herbert is said to be of no fixed address. I’m left wondering what happened to his wife Agnes and their daughter Mavis Doreen who had been born in 1921.

In the 1939 Register (taken at the outbreak of WW2) Herbert is at 95 Windermere Road, Kendal. He is described as “married” and working as a “motor engineer”. In the same Register Agnes is with her parents at 30 Union Street, Kendal, together with her daughter Mavis.

So were Herbert and Agnes now living apart? Had they been separated since Herbert was described as of “no fixed address” six years earlier? Questions to which I am not going to get any answers now!

In some ways I feel sorry for Herbert. Perhaps being “physically unfit” had a serious impact on him. Or maybe he just made some wrong choices.

Military Monday – Henry John Grainger Musgrove (1892-1917)

Henry John Grainger Musgrove is my 1st cousin 2x removed. His parents are Joseph Musgrove and Bridget Maria Grainger. Our common ancestors are John Musgrove and Catherine Ainsworth, my 2x great grandparents.

Henry was the first of ten children by Joseph and Bridget. He was born on 9 April 1892 and baptised at St. James church, Clitheroe, Lancashire on 29 May 1892.

In the 1911 census Henry’s occupation was given as “baker”.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any remaining records of Henry’s military service. However I know from the newspaper article below that he enlisted with the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment on 11 December 1915. His service number was 21851 and at the time of his death on 24 June 1917 he was serving with the 7th Battalion.

The following article appeared in the Clitheroe Advertiser and Times on 29 June 1917.

Henry J G Musgrove - CAT 29 June 1917

HOW PRIVATE H. MUSGROVE MET HIS DEATH

“It is my sad duty to write and inform you that I buried your son, yesterday (the 24th inst.). He was killed whilst with a working party, the previous night, and as our battalion is close at hand, Captain Kendall asked me to take charge of the burial. I expect the Authorities will inform you in due course, of the place of burial, and that they will erect a cross over his grave. Captain Kendall spoke in the very highest terms of your son’s bravery and usefulness as a soldier, and his death is much lamented by all his comrades. He has given his life for the greatest of all causes, and he now sleeps in an honoured grave, fondly remembered by all who knew him. May God bless and comfort you and all sorrowing relatives.”

The above letter, signed by the Rev. R. Kelso, Chaplain to the Royal Irish Rifles, has been received by Mr. Musgrove, Wilkin Street, and refers to his son, Private Hy. Musgrove, King’s Royal Lancaster Regt., who was 25 years of age, and enlisted on the 11th December, 1915. Deceased was well known throughout the district, being formerly in the employ of Mr. Dawson, Shaw Bridge. At the time he joined the Army, however, he was engaged as a baker for the Billington and Whalley Co-operative Society. He had been in France 13 months.

A couple of weeks later the following article was published in the Clitheroe Advertiser and Times on 13 July 1917

Henry J G Musgrove - CAT 13 July 1917.png

PRIVATE HENRY J. G. MUSGROVE

Official confirmation of the death in action of Private Henry J. G. Musgrove, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regt., was received on Friday last. He was the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Jos. Musgrove, 66, Wilkin Street, a single man aged 25, and was, formerly employed by the Billington and Whalley Co-operative Society. He joined the forces in December, 1915, and went to France the following April. The circumstances under which he met death are given by his C.O. in a letter which is appended. Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove, who are to be commiserated with in their great loss, have two other sons in France, and one in training.

The first intimation of Private Musgrove’s untimely end came from Captain Pobert Kelso, Chaplain to the 13th Royal Irish Rifles: “It is my sad duty to wrote and inform you that I buried your son, yesterday (the 24th inst.). He was killed whilst with a working party, the previous night, ands our battalion is close at hand, Captain Kendall asked me to take charge of the burial. I expect the Authorities will inform you in due course, of the place of burial, and that they will erect a cross over his grave. Captain Kendall spoke in the very highest terms of your son’s bravery and usefulness as a soldier, and his death is much lamented by all his comrades. He has given his life for the greatest of all causes, and he now sleeps in an honoured grave, fondly remembered by all who knew him. May God bless and comfort you and all sorrowing relatives.”

Captain Kendall, writing on the 2nd inst., said: “It is with the deepest regret that I write to tell you, in case you have not already heard from other sources, of the death in action of your son, No. 21,851 Private Musgrove, of this regiment. He was killed while working in a trench at night, which work was part of the general operations in the Messines ridge. A shell landed in the midst of his party, causing immediate death to him and one of his comrades. I cannot tell you how sorry I am to lose him from my company, as he had many times proved himself a brave and valuable man. On one occasion, a few days before his death, he had volunteered to carry ammunition through heavy fire, and, altogether, was one of the men whom we could least afford to lose. I can only hope that the fact that he died a noble death, and also the fact that we miss him very much out here, may help to lighten your great sorrow.”

Private Musgrove had been connected with St. Mary’s Sunday School from childhood, and a hymn was sung to his memory and reference made to his death, on Sunday last. A memorial service, conducted by the Vicar, was held in the Church on Wednesday night.

Henry is buried at Wytschaete Military Cemetery in Belgium.

The following information is taken from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website.

Wytschaete (now Wijtschate) was taken by the Germans early in November 1914. It was recovered by Commonwealth forces during the Battle of Messines on 7 June 1917, but fell into German hands once more on 16 April 1918. The village was recovered for the last time on 28 September. The cemetery was made after the Armistice when graves were brought in from isolated positions surrounding Wytschaete and the following small battlefield cemeteries:- REST AND BE THANKFUL FARM, KEMMEL: 23 UK burials (13 of them 2nd Suffolks), mostly of 1915. R.E. (BEAVER) FARM, KEMMEL: 18 Royal Engineer and four Canadian Engineer burials of 1915-1917. The CEMETERY NEAR ROSSIGNOL ESTAMINET, KEMMEL: 18 UK burials (11 of the 1st Wiltshire Regiment), of January-April 1915. SOMER FARM CEMETERY No.2, WYTSCHAETE: 13 UK burials made by IXth Corps in June 1917. GORDON CEMETERY, KEMMEL: 19 UK burials (14 of them 1st Gordon Highlanders) of January-May 1915. There are now 1,002 servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 673 of the burials are unidentified, but there are special memorials to 16 casualties known or believed to be buried among them. Other special memorials commemorate casualties known to have been buried at the Cemetery near Rossignol Estaminet, RE (Beaver) Farm and Rest and be Thankful Farm, whose graves could not be found on concentration. The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

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Wytschaete Military Cemetery

The article published in the Clitheroe Advertiser and Times on 19 July 1917 refers to three other brothers of Henry – at that time two were already in France and the other was in training.

These brothers were James, Albert and Tom. I am very happy to say that all three survived the war.

The Clitheroe Advertiser and Times published another article about the family on 19 October 1917.

CAT 19 October 1917.png

There are some pleasant incidents even in France, amid all the horrors and suffering entailed by the carnage of war. One such happened last Friday, when brothers Tom and Jim Musgrove (sons of Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove, Wilkin Street), met for the first time in two years. Each has since written to his parents saying how well the other looked, and what a pleasure it was to meet after such a long interval. Jim, who is attached to the Lancs. Fusiliers, has been at the front two years, and Tom, who was on his way to the Blue Cross hospital with a horse when the unexpected meeting took place, has been out with the East Lancs. nine months. Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove lost a son, henry, in action, and a fourth son, Albert, is a driver in the R.F.A., and is also across the Channel.