Corporal Walter CROOKES – ‘C’ Company
Wounded and Captured: 24 August 1914 Repatriated: 22 November 1918
Personal: Walter was born on 13th November 1893 probably at 29 Thomas Street, Eccleshall Bierlow, Sheffield, Yorkshire. He was the son of Walter (Pen and Pocket Blade Forger) and Mary Elizabeth (née Eaton) Crookes (below). He had 2 older sisters, Polly and Sarah Ellen, and a younger brother, Arthur (see Footnote below).
In 1901 (Census RG 13/4348) the family had moved to 16 Egerton Street, Eccleshall Bierlow. Before the next Census, however, Walter and his younger brother, Arthur, lost the rest of their family.
Their father, Walter, Snr., died, aged 50, in 1905, and mother, Mary, aged 43, the following year. (Both pictured on left)
Walter’s two sisters both died as teenagers, Polly, aged 18, in 1908 and Sarah, aged 16, in 1909.
In the March quarter 1925 Walter married Dora Adelaide Pickering in the Ashton District, Lancashire. Dora was born 18th October 1899 in Stockton on Tees, Durham, but her family originated from Staffordshire.
They had 4 (possibly 6) children: Charles H. (born in Warrington, Cheshire, March quarter 1925); Leslie, born in Ashton, Lancashire, on 24th August 1925, Norman, also born in Ashton, on 3rd February 1927, and Doreen (born September quarter 1930 in Ashton). (Leslie died in Bournemouth, Hampshire, in May 1998, aged 72, and Norman died in the June quarter 2002)
The 1939 Register shows Walter and Dora and 2 sons, Leslie and Norman (both at school) living at 32 Stanley Avenue, Stalybridge, Cheshire. Walter was employed as an “Employment Officer (Supervisor) – Ministry of Labour”. He was also an Air Raid Warden. The other possible children are not named, so may not actually be theirs!
Walter died on 6th March 1962 at the General Hospital, Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire. He was living with Dora at 32 Staveley Avenue, Stalybridge, Cheshire. Probate Records show he left her a total of £1438 18s (£1438.90 – equivalent to about £30,000 today – 2020) Dora died in the Tameside District, Manchester, in the March quarter 1986.
Military Service: It is not known when Walter enlisted in the Cheshire Regiment, but his Service Number (10066) suggests February 1913. (Pte. 10064 John Evans enlisted at Nantwich, Cheshire, on 5th February 1913.)
His period of service would have been for 12 years (7 on ‘Active’ service, followed by 5 years ‘Reserve’). After initial training Walter was posted to the 1st Battalion in Londonderry. With the rest of the Battalion Walter sailed from Belfast on the SS Massilia for Le Havre on 14th August 1914 and arrived in France on 16th August, confirmed by his Medal Index Card.
As a member of ‘C’ Company, Walter saw action at Audregnies on the 24th August, on the right of the line under Captain W.E.L.R. Dugmore. As the Battalion was withdrawing Walter found himself near to the C.O. of ‘D’ Company, Captain Ernest Rae-Jones, as they ran into the German Magdeburg Division. Captain Jones fired on them with his revolver and was immediately killed, along with Drummer Hogan.
[N.B. Drummer 9696 Ernest Hogan, ‘A’ Coy., is buried alongside Captain Jones in Wiheries Communal Cemetery.] Corporal Crookes and Private Garrad were wounded and Garrad died shortly after, shot through the stomach. [N.B. Pt. 10303 Frederick Garrad is buried in Aubichicourt Cemetery.]
At this point Walter was captured and the Records of the International Red Cross chart his journey around various p-o-w camps over the next 4 years.
On 19th December 1914 he was recorded at Senne prison camp; on 20th January 1915 on the “Verzeichnis der englischen kriesgefangenen in sennelager” [Directory of English prisoners of the war in Sennelager]. On 23rd February 1916 Walter was listed among the prisoners at Osnabrűck Camp, and was finally repatriated on the SS Porto which arrived at Hull on 22nd November 1918.
After the War, Walter, who witnessed the burials of Captain Jones and Drummer Hogan, wrote an article detailing the events of 24th August. [Published in “The Oak Leaf“, pps 150 – 157.]
Walter’s brother, Private 3/2939 Arthur Crookes, enlisted in the York and Lancs Regiment, and was posted to Egypt on 18th September 1915.
The 1st Battalion moved on to Salonika to aid Serbia against the Bulgarian forces and were involved in various actions including the capture of Barakli Jum’a. [ in our sister site and the service of Pte. 27722 Henry Stephen Brunt]