Welcome to my blog......

The purpose of this blog is to remember the fallen heroes of the Great War, whose names are recorded on the memorial plaque situated in St Barnabas Church, New Whittington, Chesterfield.

To mark the centenary of World War 1 I aim to research all of the men on the memorial. I hope to ensure that the brave men who gave their lives for their country 100 years ago are remembered and each man's story told.

I would love to hear from anyone who may have information regarding the men; photos, letters or passed down memories. Any descendents are most welcome to contact me and I will provide copies of the research that I have undertaken.

"They shall not grow old, as we that are left to grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them"

For The Fallen,
Laurence Binyon September 1914.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

JAMES CRAIG

JAMES CRAIG


 

Private 9705

2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders

Missing presumed dead 18th June 1915

 
 
James Craig was the local postman in New Whittington, he was married to local girl Rose Ellen Mitchell.  Rose was the sister of a soldier we have already remembered Arthur Mitchell, who gave his life in the early days of World War 1 on 20th October 1914.  Arthur Mitchell's story can be read here.
 
The service records for James Craig have survived, although parts are badly damaged.  They state that James was "James E Craig born in Galashiels near Glasgow in 1885".  They also tell that his mother was Sarah of 253 Nottingham Road, Ilkeston and his sister was Esther Craig.
 
The Craig family....
 
The parents of James were George Craig and Sarah Entwistle.  George was born around 1841 in Northumberland.  Sarah was born around 1841 in Belmont, Lancashire.  The couple married on 31st December 1866 in Govan, Lanark, Scotland.
 
George was a fellmonger, he travelled the country plying his trade.  Fellmongery was the dealing of hides and skins, the removal of the fur from the hide was also undertaken. 
 
In 1868 the couple were living in Blayden, Durham and a daughter named Mary Elizabeth was born to them.  A few years on and a son named George was born in 1871 in Manchester.  By 1873 the Craig family were living in Bootle, Liverpool when another daughter Sarah Alice was born. 
 
The next child was born around 1875, but overseas in Bruges, Belgium another son, the little boy was named Alexander Leonard.  The family were back in England the year later when Kate was born on 25th November 1876 at Newton Heath, Lancashire.  Her baptism was on 11th February 1877 and George's occupation is noted as fellmonger. 
 
And so we can see that the Craig family were well travelled, they would follow the work trading in the animal skin market.  The first census I have been able to find the Craig family on was in 1881, when they are living at 16 William Street, Chorley, Lancashire.  All of the family have been recorded as being born in the town of Chorley, but I would suspect that was to make the enumerator's life easier.  George senior was aged 40 years old and still working as a fellmonger.  Their is a new addition to the family; baby Esther Craig who was just 1 year old.

Esther was baptised on the same day as James Entwistle Craig.  The couple were baptised on 2nd April 1885 at St Barnabas Church in the city of Derby.  The birth of James was registered in Derby in 1885 but it is highly possible that the Craig family may well have been living in Galashiels, Scotland at the time of his birth and then moved on to Derby sometime afterwards.

The family were still living in Derby by the time of the next census in 1891.  George is described as a "traveller", two of his sons George and Alexander are both working as skinners.  This census is the first time we meet James E Craig, he is aged 6 years old but is recorded as being born in Derby not Galashiels, Scotland.

The family appear to remain in the East Midlands area and settle into family life; Mary Elizabeth married Peter Smedley on 28th September 1892 at St Barnabas Church, Derby.  Sarah Alice married her sweetheart Frank Rowley in 1898 also in Derby.

Sad times for the Craig family....

Death George Craig, Derby Mercury 28th December 1898 page 5
 
 
George Craig died on 11th December 1898 aged just 58 years old, the family were living at 16 Campion Street where Sarah remained.  She was living there on the 1901 census with her two son's; George aged 30 years a sorter at the skin yard and James aged 16 years also employed at the skin yard as an apprentice.  Her daughter Kate was aged 24 years old and helped around the house.

Mary E was living at 11 Otter Street, Derby with her husband Peter who was employed in the telegraphics trade.  They had two children by now Peter aged 7 and George aged 2 years.  Esther Craig was also living with the Smedley family.

Alexander was living at 67 Brough street, Derby with his wife Hannah.  The couple had married in 1896 but their were no children recorded.

George married Sarah Hayes in 1902 at Derby.  The couple baptised their first son named George Alexander on 27th October 1902 at St Barnabas Church in Derby.

Kate was the next to marry on 21st January 1903 she married Thomas Henry Llewllyn at St Barnabas Church, Derby.  Thomas was a hairdresser by trade.

Esther Craig married Charles Beighton on 8th February 1905 at St Mary's Church, Ilkeston. 
 
1911 - the last census before the outbreak of WW1....
 
Mary and Peter Smedley were living a very respectable life in their 6 roomed house at 11 Otter street.  Peter was still employed as a telegraphist by the Derby Post Office.  The boys had grown up, Peter was 17 years old now and had a good job as a bank clerk.  George was aged 12 years old and still at school.

George and Sarah were living at 48 Slack Lane, Derby.  George was aged 40 years old and still employed as a leather dresser.  They had one son named George Alexander aged 8 years old.

Sarah and her husband Frank were living at 251 Nottingham Road, Ilkeston.  Frank was employed in agriculture and worked on a farm as a horse driver.  They had three daughters; (Annie) Doris aged 12 years, Frances Mary aged 5 years and little Esther aged 2 years.

Alexander was living at 66 Ettwall Street, Derby.  He worked as a leather dresser and was aged 35 years old.  Alexander and Hannah now had a 2 year old son named Leonard James Craig.  They also had a family member of Hannah's staying with them; Bridget Parker a widow aged 60 years old.  Bridget was born in County Roscommon, Ireland.

Kate lived at 95 Longford street, Derby with her hairdresser husband Thomas.  Kate and Thomas had suffered some hard times by now as they had bore 4 children but only 2 survived in 1911; Twins - Thomas Henry and Florence Dorothy aged 5 years old.  They were born on 24th December 1905.  Sarah Craig was living with her daughter Kate, she was aged 70 years old by now.  The couple had lost two daughters; Esther Craig born 1903, died 1904 and Kate Conway who was born and died in 1904.

Esther also lived in Ilkeston not far from her sister Sarah.  She and Charles lived at 13 Corporation Street.  Charles was employed in the building trade, labouring for the brick layers.  The couple had one daughter named Winifred who was aged 1 year old.

Military life for James Craig....

James does not appear on the 1911 census.  He had left his family far behind when on 27th December 1904 he had joined the army; the East Lancashire Regiment.  Private 8384. 
 
Service records James Craig
www.ancestry.co.uk
 
His medical was at Derby on that very same day, he was described as 5ft 6 5/4, 137lbs with grey eyes, light brown hair and a fresh complexion.  James had "5 small tattoo's on left forearm, scar on cheek and 2 scars right butt(ock)"  His religion was also recorded as Presbyterian. 
 
James' time with the East Lancashire Regiment was short and on 17th February 1905 he transferred to the Gordon Highlanders, James was now Private 9705.  He would remain in the United Kingdom to undertake his training for most of 1905 until on 26th November 1905 the regiment waved goodbye to the cold winter for sunnier climes, they were embarked for East India.
 
As far as the service records show James carried out all of his army life in East India, returning on 22nd October 1912.  He was posted to the reserves on 23rd October 1912 until he was called upon once more on 4th August 1914.
 
Civvy life for James....
 
James E Craig in the Post Office Appointment Books 1913
www.ancestry.co.uk
 
James took up employment as a postman, his brother in law Peter Smedley was a highly respected member of the post office so he may well have help James to obtain this employment. 
 
Maybe it was as James delivered the post to the residents of New Whittington that he met Miss Rose Ellen Mitchell.  The young couple married on 15th June 1914 at St Bartholmew's Church in the village.  James was a little older than Rose at 29 years old, she was only 19.  The parish register tells that James's father George was a deceased leather dresser and that Rose's father William was a miner.  Rose's siblings were witnesses William Henry and Lucy Mitchell.
 
Life must have been treasured for the newly weds in those few months before war was declared.  They would listen to the radio and read the local newspapers and know that there was unrest in Europe, that if war was declared then James would have to return to the Gordon Highlanders and leave his new wife behind. 
 
It wasn't long before the Craig family were to hear the patter of tiny feet, along came James Gordon Craig.  He was baptised on 12th November 1914.  I wonder if James was present at the baptism?
 
James' war....

James was called upon on 4th August 1914.  The medal card and service record shows that the Battalion embarked to France on 30th August 1914 arriving in the "theatre of war" on 31st August 1914.

The service records state that James was wounded and on 17th October 1914 until 23rd November 1914 James was hospitalised back on home soil at Aldershot.  James had received a wound to his left foot.  The war diaries for the 2nd Battalion were missing and so duplicates were made up some years later, meaning the detail is quiet limited, however on 15th October 1914 the battalion were ordered to entrench just south of Ypres, Belgium.  That afternoon orders were received to "move out and occupy the line".  This may have been when James sustained his injuries or at an earlier date as the obituary in the Derbyshire Times stated that James saw action at Mons and Aisne. 

On the day James was reported missing presumed dead, on 18th June 1915 the Battalion was in action, with an order to "attack and capture the German position from Givenchy to Chile-St-Roche".  The battle took place from 15th until 18th June 1915.  At some time during this battle James went missing, presumed dead. 

The entry in the war diary reads "the battalion appear to have been heavily engaged, losing 5 Officers and 150 men in casualties".


Private James Craig is remembered at the Le Touret Memorial in France, Panel 39-41.


James was awarded the Victory, British, 14 Star and clasp for his service during WW1.  His total military service amounted to 10 years and 174 days.

Post Office Memorial Chesterfield
http://www.postalheritage.org.uk/collections/memorials/
The memorial to the Men of Chesterfield Post Office may include James Craig; the inscription reads "I E Craig of the Gordon Highlanders, 18-01-15".  The first initial and month of death are however inscribed incorrectly if this is the case.
 
Life went on....
 
The news that James was reported as killed in action with no body to identify or a fitting burial must have been a difficult concept for poor Rose to bear.  For the young widow it seems to have left her with more anxiety than had she known that her beloved was laid to rest in peace.  Sadly within James' service records is a hand written note which was a reply to a War Office's earlier memo, dated 8th May 1916 it reads....
 
" (I) am sorry to say I have not
had anymore news regarding
my husband it is now getting
(on) for twelve months it seems
strange know one (sic) seems to
now any think (sic) of him!
 
I remain
yours truly
Mrs R E Craig"
 
The words and date give us an indication of the heartbreaking time Rose was enduring.   James was reported several times in the Derbyshire Times, telling that he was missing in action.  But on 4th September 1915, nearly three months after his death, the sad news was written in print; that James had been killed in action on June 18th.  The news had been passed on to Rose by a fellow comrade of James a Corporal in the Gordon Highlanders.
 
What became of Rose in the coming years I have not been able to confirm; there is a marriage registered in 1919 for a Rose Ellen Craig to Walter Bostock but I have not purchased the marriage certificate to ascertain that this is correct.  If this was Rose then she still signed for the medals due to James in 1919, 1921 and 1922 in the name of "R E Craig".  Rose may well have felt it her duty as wife to James to honour him and sign as she would have remained had it not been for the sad realities of war.
 
I have not found any definite life story for James Gordon Craig, he may have married late in life to Louisa Cummins in 1967.  There is a death registered for a James Gordon Craig in Chesterfield in 1977.
 
Rose Bostock is registered as deceased in 1974 aged 79 years old.

The Craig Family....
 
Sarah Craig - James mother Sarah died in 1917, she was aged 75 years old.
 
Mary Elizabeth Craig was to suffer her own tragic loss, the death of her eldest son Peter.  He was serving with the 2 5th Regiment Sherwood Foresters, Private 202007.  Peter was killed on 4th April 1917. Peter was aged just 23 years old.  Peter is remembered at the Vadencourt British Cemetery, Maissemy, France.

Mary's husband Peter continued to run the telegraphic service at the Post Office.  His retirement was noted in the Derby Daily Telegraph on 3rd June 1926, when he is said to have worked in the business for 45 years.  He was commended for his work during the years he was in charge of the Edensor Village, owned by The Duke of Devonshire.  He was particulary noted for his work in 1904 when the Duke received the King and Queen of Portugal. 

Derby Daily Telegraph 2nd June 1936

Mary and Peter lived at Gorsey Bank in Wirksworth, but later into their retirement they moved to Allersley, Coventry.  Their remaining son George ran the Post Office on Osmoston Road in Derby.  Peter died in 1936, his death was recorded in the Derby Daily Telegraph on 2nd June 1936. 

Derby Daily Telegraph, 9th November 1939

Mary died at her son George's home, the Post Office at Derby.  She was buried at Allesley Cemetery, Coventry.

George Craig  may have died in 1940, his wife Sarah in 1945. 

Sarah Alice Craig died at Ilkeston in 1912.  She was only 40 years old.  The death may have been related to childbirth but without the death certificate I cannot confirm this - her youngest daughter Phyllis was born in that same year of 1912. 

Alexander Leonard Craig  also lost his life during World War 1.  He was serving with the 10th Battalion Sherwood Foresters, Private 14418.  He died of his wounds on 4th September 1915. He is buried at Lijssentheok Military Cemetery, Belgium. 

An article has already been written on the service of Alexander Leonard Craig during World War 1 - it can be read here.

Kate Craig and her husband Thomas went on to have another healthy child, a daughter born in 1916 named Nora Kathleen.  Kate died in 1953 at Shardlow, Derby.

Esther Craig died in Ilkeston in 1942, her husband Charles Beighton died the year later in 1943.

If you may be connected to this family or have any further information on James Entwistle Craig, his wife Rose Ellen, his son James Gordon Craig or his siblings / parents please do either leave comments via the pen icon below or drop me an email.
 
*****

Further information from Nicola Rippon -

Sarah Craig, sister of James Entwistle Craig
with kind permission of Nicola Rippon
 
 
The Craig side of the family came from the North East - around Weardale were they were lead miners, while the Entwistles hailed from the Bolton area, although James' maternal grandmother was Irish.
Sarah Alice was my great grandmother. You are correct in that she married Frank Rowley, who was the brother of one of her near-neighbours in Campion Street in Derby. 
They had four daughters: Doris, May (Frances), Esther and Phyllis (my Nana). 
Frank had been the owner of a beer house but, by the time Phyllis was born, had fallen on somewhat hard times and was, rather than working in agriculture, actually driving horses at the local ironworks. Sarah gave birth to Phyllis on 20 October 1912 but died only a few days later from of the birth. Frank was, separated from much of his family, looking after three young daughters and the only wage-earner and with a tiny baby to look after, as well as the immense grief he must have been feeling, found looking after the entire family too much. My Nana, Phyllis, was adopted by her uncle and aunt (Frank's brother William and his wife Jane) who took her to live in Derby. 

Phyllis married Alec Rippon and lived out her life in Derby. She died in 1994.
Doris stayed in Ilkeston and had three sons, May and Esther moved back to Derby with Frank. May married John Spencer and Esther married Claude Eric Pountain who was a professional musician and the brother of crooner Denny Dennis (Eric used the stage name of Barrie Gray). During WW2 he served in the merchant navy and was killed at sea when his ship was sunk.
 
*****
 

Ref and further reading -

Census
Parish Registers
Medal Rolls
Service Records www.ancestry.co.uk
Soldiers who died in the Great War
Newspaper articles - Derbyshire Times & Derby Daily Telelgraph
CWGC http://www.cwgc.org

Derbyshire Record Office -
Baptism James Entwistle Craig - ref M538
Marriage James and Rose Craig - ref M532
Baptism James Gordon Craig (noted in registers as Entwistle) - ref M531

Post Office Heritage - war memorials http://www.postalheritage.org.uk/collections/memorials/