Name: Albert Crawley
1898 - 16th October 1918
Place of Birth: Arlesey
Occupation: General Labourer
Division: 1st Battalion
Regiment: Bedfordshire Regiment
Commemorated: Panel 31 and 33, Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Ypres, Belgium
Person(s) placing the cross on behalf of the Arlesey Remembers You Project: Duncan Wang
Albert was born in Arlesey in 1878, the youngest son of Samuel and Hannah Crawley. At the time of Albert’s birth the family were living in Primrose Lane, Arlesey and Samuel was employed as a labourer in one of the local brickworks along with his sons Charles and Samuel. By 1891 the family had moved to Straw Street – father Samuel, along with sons Samuel, Frederick and John were working as general labourers, daughter Mary was employed as a straw cutter and Albert was still at school.
On 9th December 1896 Albert was attested for a period of 6 years into the 4rd Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment. At the time he was employed by a Mr Fossey as a labourer. Albert’s service records tell us he was 18 years and 3 months, was 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighed 124lb, had a fresh complexion, grey eyes and brown hair. We also know he had 2 small scars on the back of his head, a scar between his eyebrows and 2 scars on his left forehead! It’s possible Albert served for a period of 12 years, seeing service in South Africa before he joined the Reserves.
In 1904 Albert married Florence Mahalath Pitcher from Brixton, London and by 1911 they were living in Straw Street, Arlesey with son’s Sydney George (born in 1909) and George Edward (born in 1911). They went on to have 3 daughters: Violet born in 1913, Nellie, born in 1914 and Ivy in 1915. From the 1911 census it seems Florence had another son, Frederick Charles Pitcher who was born in Hertford in 1903. The census tells us she had given birth to 5 children by 1911, 2 of whom had died.
When the war broke out Albert joined the Bedfordshire Reserves Regiment and left for France on 12th September 1914. The 1st Battalion was a “Regular Army” Battalion – the original soldiers of the Battalion were amongst the ‘Old Contemptibles’, the title proudly adopted by the men of the original British Expeditionary Force (BEF) who saw active service before 22nd November 1914. They were the professional soldiers of the British Army, almost all of whom were regular soldiers or reservists.
In December of 1914 the Battalion were in the trenches near Wulvergem, a village in the Belgian Provence of West Flanders. On 8th December at 12.45pm the Battalion unexpectedly received orders to return to the firing line. They proceeded to Wulvergem and relieved the 1st Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment. On the 9th December they had a ‘quiet’ day in the trenches with the occasional sniping and shrapnel – 2 men were killed and 1 man wounded. On 10th December the patrols and scouts reconnoitred the German trenches during the early morning, they found the Germans alert, with the trenches protected by wire. During this mission 2 men were killed and 3 wounded. We know from the Biggleswade Chronicle of Jan 8th 1915 that Albert was killed in action on 10th December, so he must have been one of the men killed in the reconnaissance mission.
Sadly just before Florence received the news of Albert’s death, their daughter Nellie had died and was buried on Saturday January 2nd 1915.
Albert is remembered with honour at the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in the province of West Flanders.