In memory of my great uncle who, like so many, fought for his country

and did not come home. 



This is the story of just one man from one family in one village who was called up to fight for his country and never came home.


Winfield Crawshaw was my great grandma Clara Crawshaw's younger brother.  He was born at Horner House, Stocksbridge, on the 15th April 1896, one of twelve children born to Thomas Henry Crawshaw and Sarah Hannah Evans.  Winfield worked in the Spring Mill at Fox’s before enlisting in the Army in 1915 at the age of 19.  

Britain declared war on Germany on the 4th August 1914.  Two of Thomas and Sarah’s sons went off to fight, the eldest child Harry Weston, and Winfield.  The young men's father, Thomas Henry, died on the 9th March 1917, the day after his 53rd birthday.  Sarah Hannah would hardly have had time to mourn her husband before she learnt that her son Winfield was Missing in Action in France.  He was killed on the 3rd May, but news of his death didn’t reach his mother until much later.  A letter survives, which was received by the army on 6th June 1917, from Sarah Hannah:


Sir, having received […] news today from you that my son Private Winfield Crawshaw is reported missing from the […] his father Thos. Hy Crawshaw is dead.  Please forward any other information to his mother, Mrs S. A. [sic] Crawshaw, 215 Pearson Street, Stocksbridge, near Sheffield.”  [note: some of this letter is illegible]. 


It must have been a dreadful time, and with her son Harry Weston still away fighting, Sarah Hannah must have been consumed with worry about whether he too would be killed, and wondering how she was going to manage financially.  She still had several young children at home.  Luckily, Harry Weston did come back from the Front to re-join his wife and family.


In his book, the History of Stocksbridge and District, Harry Eastwood mentioned that Winfield was a member of the West End Primitive Methodist Church at Stocksbridge.  He says that a number of young men from the congregation answered Kitchener’s call and joined up.  Winfield's Attestation Document is dated 6th December 1914.  Eastwood wrote, “It is worth recording here that on Whit Monday 1915, two members of the young men’s class, Winfield Crawshaw and Willie Crownshaw, who had joined His Majesty’s Forces, broke camp and returned to Stocksbridge to carry their Sunday School banner in the procession”.  I wonder if they went AWOL, and if so, what punishment they incurred? 

Click on a photograph to enlarge it

Winfield is commemorated on a Roll of Honour which was originally in the West End Primitive Methodist Church (now the Rugby Club) but is now in Christ Church, Stocksbridge.  The other names are Lucy Castledine (a nurse), Fred Castledine, Thomas Finkhill, Reginald W. Hill, Arthur Brailsford, Douglas Shaw, Alfred Sutton, Horace Smith, Fred Fieldsend and Clifford Orchard.

Winfield was 19 years and 8 months old when he joined up (the official record said he was 18 years and 8 months), was 5'5" tall and weighed just over 12 stones.  He attested on the 6th December 1914 into the 2nd/4th battalion, York & Lancaster Regiment, which had been formed at Sheffield on the 21st September 1914.  This battalion was part of the 187th Infantry Brigade, itself part of the 62nd West Riding Division.  The 62nd was a Territorial ‘2nd line’ Division (the 49th W.R. Division was 1st line) 


In March 1915 they moved to Bulwell, Nottingham to join the 187th Brigade of the 62nd Division.  In April they moved on to Strensall (York), then Beverley, Gateshead, Larkhill (Wiltshire) and Bungay (Suffolk).  They were mobilised for war in January 1917, embarking for France on the 12th January.  They disembarked at Le Havre in poor weather, heavy rain, sleet and snow.  The roads were deep in mud.

This photograph shows Winfield at an (unknown) training camp.

A military expert has provided an interpretation of this photograph. 

Winfield enlisted in 1914 and other photographs show him wearing a uniform with pleated top pockets; anyone that joined after 1915 is wearing an economy tunic (with plain pockets).  As some of these men have the latter uniform, this dates the photograph to about 1916.  At the outbreak of war in 1914, the huge number of volunteers answering Kitchener’s recruitment appeal resulted in the problem of providing uniforms for all these men.  Many trained in their civilian clothes for weeks. So a highly simplified version of the uniform was produced instead.  These were dark blue, because the original khaki dye, which before the war had been produced in Germany, proved difficult to acquire from other sources; this gave the uniform the nickname "Kitchener's Blues".  Around 500,000 sets of these uniforms were produced and worn during basic training.

The man at the front with two stripes/chevrons is the Corporal, who commanded the section.

The man behind him with one stripe/chevron is the Lance Corporal (L/Cpl is the lowest rank of Non-Commissioned Officer or NCO), and he would be second in command after the Corporal.

l.anyards were worn on the left shoulder until the mid 20s; the Corporal has his on his right shoulder.  He is not showing his right hand on this photograph, perhaps he had an injury preventing him from using it?

The man on the right with the stick is a Military Policeman. 

The man sat down on the duckboard on the right has black cloth on his 2nd. button showing a loss of a close family member.  Another tragic story.


I wonder how many of these men made it home from France?


Winfield’s regiment was engaged in various actions on the Western Front.   In 1917 this included operations on the Ancre, the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, the Arras offensive, the actions on the Hindenburg Line and the Cambrai Operations.


On the 3rd May the 187th were on the left of the Divisional front, tasked with attacking and taking the town of Bullecourt – or what was left of it.  It was reported that taking and forming up operations were carried out without "serious casualties" and completed by 3.30am.  Shortly before zero hour the enemy put down a heavy barrage on the 185th, which spread across the whole front.  Winfield died on the 3rd May, and we can suppose that this is how he met his sad end.  His sister Lottie thought that his position as a machine gunner put him at greater risk, because he would have had to sit up to fire the gun and would not be able to take cover.  He had been in France just 4 months.


Information from a book by Everard Wyrall, "The History of the 62nd West Riding Division"

Click on a photograph to enlarge it

Winfield is commemorated on a Roll of Honour which was originally in the West End Primitive Methodist Church (now the Rugby Club) but is now in Christ Church, Stocksbridge.  The other names are Lucy Castledine (a nurse), Fred Castledine, Thomas Finkhill, Reginald W. Hill, Arthur Brailsford, Douglas Shaw, Alfred Sutton, Horace Smith, Fred Fieldsend and Clifford Orchard.

His name is inscribed on the Roll of Honour at the War Memorial at Stocksbridge Clock Tower.  There are 107 names on the list of World War 1 dead. 


He is also commemorated on the Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France (bay 8).  The Arras Memorial is in the Faubourg-d’Armiens Cemetery, which is in the Boulevard du General de Gaulle in the western part of the town of Arras.  The cemetery is near the Citadel.  The memorial commemorates almost 35,000 casualties of the British, New Zealand and South African Forces who died between Spring 1916 and 7th August 1918 (with the exception of the casualties of the battle of Cambrai in 1917), and who have no known grave.  The names of the casualties are carved on stone panels fixed to the cloister walls.  The design of the memorial is by Sir Edwin Luytens, and consists of a cloister 25 feet high and 380 feet long.  It is built up on Doric columns and faces west. 


Winfield in remembered on the family gravestone in Bolsterstone churchyard.  Some men were buried in their home towns, but Winfield lies in a “foreign field.


"In loving memory of Thomas Henry the beloved husband of Sarah Hannah Crawshaw of Stocksbridge who died March 9th 1917 aged 53 years.  Also of Thomas son of the above who died February 13th 1904 aged 17 years.  Also of Private Winfield 2/4 Y. + L. Regt son of the above killed in action in France May 3rd 1917 aged 21 years.  His duty nobly done.  Also the above Sarah Hannah Crawshaw who died August 29th 1932 aged 64 years.  Reunited."

Click on a photograph to enlarge it

The Sheffield Daily Telegraph reported Winfield’s death in its edition of 8th June 1917, along with a photograph of him.  This one page in the paper for one day carried long lists of the dead and wounded, lists of those reported missing but now confirmed dead, those reported as wounded and now dead, prisoners of war, men reported missing presumed drowned and so on.  The longest list was the one which listed those who reported as “missing.


Winfield's mother signed this slip (below) to acknowledge receipt of a sum of money "granted in Respect of the service of the late no. 201198 Pte Winfield Crawshaw" 1st December 1921.  This is probably money provided as financial recompense to a soldier's next of kin following their death in service.  Each soldier's beneficiary received an average of £10 compensation, which was his final balance of pay plus a gratuity paid by the War Office.  This is about £930 in today's money. 

Arras Memorial2.JPG

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