Albert V CRAWSHAW
Rank: Private
Number: 41953
Unit: 8th Battalion ROYAL INNISKILLING FUSILIERS
Date of Death: 16 August 1917
Age: 19
Cemetery: Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium

Albert was born in the Earls Heaton area of Dewsbury and was living there, aged 3, when the 1901 Census was taken. He was the son of Henry and Mary Ann and lived at Walker Street with them and his older brother, Joseph.

It's not known when the family moved to the Stockport area or where they lived. When Albert enlisted, he originally joined the Cheshire Regiment. He travelled to Chester to do this and must have had a particular reason as he could just have easily enlisted in Stockport. His service, 62389, dates the enlistment to around the end of 1916. His medal entitlement records at the National Archives make no mention of this service, confirming that he never served abroad with the Cheshires. He was, no doubt, transferred to the Fusiliers when he had finished training.  

On 31 July 1917, the British Army would launch the start of the attack that would later be officially designated as the Third Battle of Ypres, but better known as Passchendaele. Within hours, the advance became literally bogged down as heavy rain started to fall. The coming months of the Battle would be characterised by a series of further "bite and hold" advances. One such attack, known as the Battle of Langemarck, was scheduled for 16 August and would involve eight Army Divisions - nearly 150,000 men. The previous day, Albert and his mates had moved into assembly trenches ready to "go over the top". "C" Company would lead the attack on the right, with "A" on the left. "D" and "B" would be their respective supports.

The men advanced at "aero hour" - 4.45am. As they were getting out of the trenches, the enemy artillery fire came down on the front line and the casualties started to mount. As they moved forward, they came under heavy machine gun fire from emplacements about 200 yards west of a position known as Borry Farm. Very heavy casualties were taken.

By 5am, the attack had stalled. The men of "C" Company attempted to rush the Farm under cover of fire from their own light machine gun but without success. Two further attempts were made to try to work round from the flanks but these also failed. The men could see that the Farm was strongly garrisoned by about 100 Germans and they had three machine guns. The remnants of the Company now had no option but to take cover in shell holes about 100 yards west of the Farm and would remain there all day. "D" Company, slightly to the left of "C", had been able to make some further progress but was later forced back by a German counter-attack.

On the left, "A" and "B" Companies had advanced and stood their ground until almost surrounded. They then had to fight their way out to avoid being captured and only about 15 men from each Company managed to return to the British lines. In the chaos of the day and its aftermath, Albert's body was never recovered and identified.

There would be further bad news for the Crawshaws just over a year later when news came that Joseph had also been killed in action.

   
           
   
     
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