Thomas, Samuel, George, William Henry and Amos
John and Jane Crock had the unhappy distinction that five of their sons joined the services and went to war. Sadly only one returned, and he had been badly injured. They appear in alphabetical order on the War Memorial but have been researched in age order. Amos, the only one who returned, was the youngest and although he does not appear on the Memorial his details are included for completeness. First, however, some details of the whole family to show where they all fit together.
John Crock was born in Northamptonshire in 1845 and arrived in Lewes between 1871 and 1875. He married (Mary) Jane Patching at the Baptist church on 27/06/1875. Jane already had a daughter whom John took on as his own, and an older son who does not appear to have lived with them and did not take the surname Crock.
At his marriage John added Henry to his name as a second Christian name. In 1881 John, Jane, and three children, Mary Jane, Thomas and Samuel, were living at 2 York Street (believed to have been on the east side of North Street, between Wellington St and Phoenix Place).
John was listed as a general labourer and Jane as a charwoman. She had previously been a cook at the Crown Hotel. Some time between April 1882 and October 1884 the family moved to 9 Spring Gardens (where North Street-Brook Street car park is now), and after September 1887 to 3 Mount Pleasant.
In the ten year period between 1881 and 1891 daughter Mary Jane married, Thomas joined the navy, Samuel moved away for work and three younger sons were born. Jane’s eldest son also joined the army giving his mother as his next of kin.
From 1901 the remaining family lived at 4 Mount Place. John was still listed as a general labourer and Jane had returned to work as a cook although it is not known where this was. By 1911 John was listed as a corporation scavenger working for Lewes Town Council. The only son still at home was Amos. Jane died in Lewes in 1919 and John in 1931.
When Thomas joined the Royal Navy on 27/01/1891 he gave his date of birth as 11/07/1875. He joined as a ‘Boy 2nd Class’ at Chatham giving his previous occupation as candle maker. He was numbered 158554. His initial training was on the ageing HMS St Vincent, a static hulk based at Haslar in Portsmouth, icily cold in winter and unbearably hot in summer. He was listed as Boy 1st Class on his 17th birthday and on his 18th birthday was classed as an Ordinary Seaman. From this date his 12 year period of engagement officially started.
Thomas served on a number of vessels, rising through the ranks. He was on HMS Swallow from 1893 – 1896 engaged in East Africa, where he was awarded the Ashantee medal with a Witu clasp.
From 1900 – 1904 he was on HMS Baracouta where he was part of the South African War, being awarded the South Africa medal with clasps for Cape Colony and South Africa ‘1902’.
He was raised to Petty Officer in February 1904. For the remainder of his service he was shore based in Portsmouth and was discharged on 11/07/1905, his 30th birthday.
He applied for the Royal Fleet Reserve and was appointed as RFR.CH/B/4647 on 27/07/1907. He was re-enrolled on 14/10/1911 and listed to serve until 26/07/1917. His character was always listed as Good or Very Good. The photograph shows him in his early naval uniform.
When he initially left the navy for the unpaid reserves Thomas took a post as a porter in the Uckfield workhouse, where he lived on the premises.
The 1911 census lists him there as Royal Fleet Reserve, workhouse porter. His role was to oversee the men’s set daily tasks, and there are several references to him in the local courts giving evidence against inmates who refused to work.
On the outbreak of war Thomas was recalled as a PO to serve as part of the reserves on HMS Aboukir. He was killed on 22/09/1914 in the action described on the page about Harry Connett.
It is known that Thomas was included on the intercessions list at St John sub Castro in September 1914. His name is recorded on the Chatham Naval Memorial Ref 1 as well as the St John sub Castro Memorial and Lewes War Memorial.
Samuel was born on 17/09/1876 while the family were living at 2 York Street. In 1891 he was working as an errand boy and ‘living in’ at the Lamb Inn in Fisher Street. He moved to Haywards Heath around 1899 and started work at the Star Forge working for Thomas Green.
By 1901 he was boarding with Thomas in Paddockhurst Road, Haywards Heath. On his later army papers Samuel said he had no formal apprenticeship but it would seem likely that this is where he learnt his trade.
He married Emily Eleanor Baldey on 28/07/1906 at St Wilfrid’s Haywards Heath and they moved back to Lewes, living at 82 Malling Street. A son John William was born on 01/12/1907, a second son Thomas George on 11/10/1909 and a third son Samuel on 10/01/1913. The 1911 census lists him as a blacksmith in the iron foundry; however his army papers contain two references from previous employers. He had worked at the Star Forge from 1899, and Cecil Munby MRCVS of Radstock House, who had known his work since 1902, said that he was an excellent farrier.
Before leaving Lewes in 1899 Samuel had been a member of the 1st Sussex Volunteers, but left when he moved to Haywards Heath. He enlisted in the Army Service Corps as private TS 4386 in Lewes on 18/11/1914, giving his occupation as a farrier. This was a much needed skill and he was listed as a shoeing smith and sent to Woolwich, on the HQ Staff.
His army papers are badly water damaged, but it is possible to make out quite a bit of information. He was sent to France, arriving on 21/12/1914 as part of the RASC but being attached to the 27th Division Armoured Column as part of the Royal Field Artillery. Although it is not clear from his papers where or how he was employed, since he is always referred to as a shoeing smith it is a reasonable assumption that he continued looking after the horses. The TS as part of his number indicates Transport Special and this might also suggest that he was involved in the transportation of horses.
The 27th Division embarked on HT Victoria on 30/01/1916 at Marseilles and sailed to Salonika, where they arrived on 07/02/1916. ‘HT’ refers to Horse Transport reinforcing the idea that Samuel was heavily involved in looking after the horses that were a major part of WW1.
Little more is known about Samuel’s army service until 18/09/1918 when he was admitted, via the 81st Field Ambulance and 40th Casualty Clearing Station, to the 42nd General Hospital in the hills near Kirschkoi. He was suffering from clinical dysentery, which had started on 12th September. Some medical details are readable on his papers showing that on admittance his condition was poor, but improved slightly after treatment. However, he gradually grew weaker and signs of pneumonia were noticed in his lungs.
He subsequently died at 9.10 pm on 13/10/1918 after falling into delirium. A post mortem confirmed the initial diagnosis and also revealed numerous ulcers in his intestines. Samuel is buried in Kirechkoi-Hortakoi Military Cemetery in grave 331, which is part of Plot VIII. He is remembered on the St John sub Castro Memorial and the Lewes War Memorial.
George was born on 09/04/1882 while the family were living at 2 York Street, and was still living at home in 1891. On 03/02/1898 he joined the 3rd Battalion the Royal Sussex Regiment Militia and was numbered 7642. He claimed a birth year of 1880 but he was actually only 16. This seems to have been a very short period of service, as he was discharged just a year later.
On 18/04/1900, now aged eighteen, he enlisted in the 3rd Battalion the Scots Guards and was numbered 3351. He was transferred to the 1st Battalion in January 1902 and served in South Africa, being awarded the South Africa medal with clasps for the Cape Colony, Orange Free State and ‘1902’. He returned to the UK on 18/04/1903 and was placed in the reserves. As a reserve he was not paid, and took employment in Newhaven as a dock labourer for the LBSCR, living at 14, Harpers Road. He was finally discharged from the Guards on 17/04/1912.
George married Maud Minnie Elizabeth Brooker at the end of 1911, and a daughter Marjorie was born in 1918. At some point prior to March 1917 he moved to work for Beard and Co., working their chilling and bottling machinery. He joined the volunteers in Lewes and rose to corporal, and there are several mentions of him in the local paper.
He had been given an Exemption From Service certificate, but following a tribunal hearing this was withdrawn and he was recalled at a month’s notice. He was re-numbered as private 1596 and later placed in the 2nd Company of the 4th Battalion Guards Machine Gun Regiment. This had been formed in March 1918 as a combined regiment of four machine gun battalions.
George was sent overseas at about this time and would have been involved in the 1st and 2nd Battles of the Somme and the 2nd Battle of Arras. George was killed by a shell, on 05/09/1918, reportedly as he was writing to Maud, but this is open to question. He was initially buried where he fell, next to a comrade, with his grave marked by a wooden cross.
In January 1920 following the decision of the CWGC to re-inter those men buried in outlying and unmaintainable graves he was re-buried, with honour, in the Moeuvres Communal Cemetery Extension in plot V B 19. He is remembered on the St John sub Castro Memorial and the Lewes War Memorial.
William Henry Crock
William was born on 01/10/1884 at Spring Gardens and was listed at home in 1891 and 1901. By 1911 he was working as a dock labourer for the LBSCR in Newhaven, and boarding at 46 Elphick Road.
He married Alice Maud Rose on 29/07/1911 at St Michael’s, Lewes and a son William Henry was born on 12/08/1913 in Newhaven. Sadly he lived for just three days. Things were clearly very difficult for William and on 09/04/1914 he left England for Sydney, Australia on board the P and O liner, the SS Ballarat, leaving Maud behind. He reportedly said that if he were mobilised he would return from Australia. At the time he was a reservist in the Royal Garrison Artillery.
William’s army papers are not available to view so tracing his movements is difficult. Stray records suggest that in 1914 he was a bombardier of the RGA, number 13660, and that he became a sergeant quite early on; later he was renumbered 284187. Records also exist of him as a sergeant with the number 9187.
From other information on these records they all clearly refer to the same man.
It is not known exactly when William returned to the UK, but he entered France on 05/11/1915 as part of the BEF. This entitled him to the 1915 Star, in addition to the War and Victory medals. Since his second son, John Henry, was born in 1916 he had been back in the UK for at least a little while before being sent to France.
At his death he was part of the 227th Siege Battery RGA having previously been part of the 22nd Battery. A full compliment for a siege battery consisted of 220 men of all ranks, of whom 10 were sergeants. Most operated below strength and many batteries were combined as numbers dropped. The 227th had 4 x 8” howitzers and at the time of William’s death were part of 17th Heavy Artillery Group.
At this date their role was to neutralise enemy artillery by directing destructive fire behind enemy lines. As such they were also vulnerable, as the operational equipment was heavy and not very manoeuvrable.
William was injured by enemy fire and was probably taken to the 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station. They were known to have been working in the area where he was injured, and many of the men from this station who did not survive were buried in the area of Trois Arbres Cemetery in Steenwerck where William lies, in plot I R 20. He is remembered on the St John sub Castro Memorial and the Lewes War Memorial.
Amos’ story is more positive. He was born on 04/09/1887 in Spring Gardens and was listed at home in 1891, 1901 and 1911. He enlisted in the 2nd Battalion the Royal Sussex Regiment on 10/05/1904, giving his occupation as candle maker and being numbered 7921.
His army papers are badly burnt and have been mixed up with another soldier’s papers so it is not possible to be completely certain of his service prior to WW1. He seems to have been transferred to the reserves in 1907.
He was mobilised on 05/08/1914 and entered France as part of the BEF the same day. His battalion fought at the Battle of Mons, where he was seriously injured during the retreat. He suffered two gunshot wounds to the back, one of which passed through his body just above his heart. He was taken, via the 9th Ambulance Station, to No 3 General Hospital at Rouen on 11/09/1914 where he remained for six days before being transferred via Ambulance convoy to the hospital ship SS Asturias sailing from Le Havre.
He was then taken to No. 2 Western General Hospital in Manchester. He was included on the intercessions list at St John sub Castro in mid-September 1914 and was visited by two of his brothers. He underwent a further operation and wrote to his parents saying he was feeling much better. Although Amos was trying to make light of his injuries for his parent’s sake, they were sufficiently serious for him to be finally discharged from the army on 07/07/1915 as unfit for further service. He returned home and was awarded a Silver War Badge the following year.
Amos was living at 10 Keere Street when his medals were sent to him in 1919. His mother Jane had died in early 1919 and he married Ellen or Helen A Kennedy at Lewes Register Office on 19/06/1919.
Their son Patrick was born in September 1919 and a daughter Mary Ellen the following year. A further son, William Henry, was born in 1926.
In 1939 Amos and Ellen were living with their youngest child at 5 Mount Street. Amos was noted as incapacitated.
In a sad twist of fate Patrick was killed during WW2 and is remembered on the World War 2 Memorial at St John sub Castro. Ellen died on 25/07/1965 and Amos on 05/01/1971 aged 83.