William Crow was Chelmsford born and bred in large family, worked as a nurseryman and at Hoffmann’s. He died from wounds in March 1917. His home was in Baddow Road.
William was born in Chelmsford in 1888, the third son of George Piper Crow and Elizabeth Crow. His father had been born in Great Waltham in 1850; his mother c1851 in Pleshey. The couple had married in 1873 and in 1881 had been resident at 15 Baddow Road, Chelmsford.
William was baptised at St. John’s Moulsham on 2nd February 1889, at which time his father was described as a carman of Baddow Road.
William’s 13 siblings, all Chelmsford-born, included George Crow (born in 1873 and baptised at St. John’s Church, Moulsham on 11th January 1874), Arthur Crow (born in 1875 and baptised at St. John’s Church, Moulsham on 19th September 1875, died 1878 aged 2), Edward Crow (born in 1877 and baptised at St. John’s Church, Moulsham on 6th October 1877, died 1884), Charles Crow (born in 1878), Alice Mary Crow (born in 1880 and baptised at St. John’s Moulsham on 5th March 1881), Esther Elizabeth Crow (born in 1883 and baptised at St. John’s Moulsham on 5th May 1883), Emily Crow (born in 1884 and baptised at St. John’s Moulsham on 6th September 1884), Ada Crow (born in 1886 and baptised at St. John’s Moulsham on 3rd July 1886), Florence Crow (born in 1890), Frederick Crow (born in 1892 and baptised at St. John’s Moulsham on 6th March 1897), Samuel Crow (baptised at St. John’s Moulsham on 2nd April 1894), and Rose Edith Crow (born in 1897 and baptised at St. John’s Moulsham on 6th March 1897, died 1980).
At the time of the 1891 census William, aged three, and his family were still resident at 15 Baddow Road (later renumbered). William’s father was a carman, while his elder brothers were both errand boys. A decade later at the next census 13 year-old William and his family were at 21 Baddow Road (later renumbered as 50). William’s father was a carman. The household included his eldest brother, an engine driver (manufactory) and his brother’s wife Eliza. His brother Charles Crow had married Agnes Mary Potter in Widford on 29th December 1900.
In 1911 the census found William living with his parents and two sisters, Florence and Rose at 21 Baddow Road. William was a nurseryman. His father, then 61 was carter, and his 14 year-old sister, a housemaid.
William enlisted at Chelmsford and served as Private 26701 in the 10th (Service) Battalion of the Essex Regiment, a ‘New Army’ battalion that was attached to the 53rd Brigade in the 18th (Eastern) Division. It went to France in July 1915 and into the line for the first time a month later. The battalion saw much action in the summer of 1916 in the Battle of the Somme, most noteworthy perhaps being the capture of Thiepval on 26th September 1916. In early 1917 the battalion was in the Ancre valley, and captured Folly Trench on 8th February 1917.
In early March 1917 William’s battalion battalion was involved in preparing to attack the village of Irles (some four miles west of Bapaume), then held by the Germans, from the direction of Miraumont. To the west of the village the Germans held ‘Resurrection Trench’.
Private, 10th (Service) Battalion, Essex Regiment
A post-war history of the battalion recalled:
“The enemy not only held the village [Irles], but a very good trench line (Resurrection Trench) to the west of it. Our position was one of close support; three companies were in the Miraumont Quarries - where a number of huge dug-outs had been left by the Boche - while the fourth company and Battalion H.Q. were in Petit Miraumont. Except for bouts of enemy shelling from his positions in and behind Loupart Wood, we had a reasonably peaceful time till the night of 6th-7th March, when we took over a portion of Resurrection Trench from the Suffolks [8th Suffolk Regiment] - a position captured by them the night before.
The 8th Norfolk Regiment was now in position on our right, and we were almost ready for action; not quite, however, for some enemy still remained in the most northern part of Resurrection Trench. This packet held the highest portion of the line, but their position was somewhat isolated, for to their north the ground sloped down rapidly to the railway valley.
This little band of Huns was a gallant one, however, and on the 8th March gave our B Company a very trying day. In the dawn our left bomb stop was rushed; it was assailed from the trench and from above ground. So far as I know we lost no prisoners, but a running fight ensued throughout the day, and at dusk we were quite 100 yards too far south of the Resurrection Trench.”
It was during this period that William died from wounds, on 8th March 1917. Today he lies at Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension (grave: VI. C. 18), three kilometres south of Albert, Somme, France.
Irles was successfully captured by William’s battalion and the 8th Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment on 10th March 1917.
William’s death was covered by the Essex Weekly News on 23rd March 1917:
“Mr. and Mrs. George Crow, 21, Baddow-road, Chelmsford, have received news that their third son, Pte. William Crow, Essex Regt., died from wounds received in action on March 8, at the age of 29 years. He was formerly employed at the Hoffmann Works.”
A week later the Essex County Chronicle carried an almost identical report:
“Mr. and Mrs. George Crow, 21 Baddow Road, Chelmsford, have received news that their third son, Pt. Wm. Crow, Essex Regt., died from wounds received in action on March 8, aged 29 years. He was formerly employed at the Hoffmann Works.”
Within weeks the family suffered another blow withWilliam’s father dying in April 1917, aged 67.
William is commemorated on the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford. He is not commemorated by the war memorial at St. John’s Church. Moulsham. He was entitled to the British War Medal and Victory Medal. His brother Frederick served with the Royal West Kent Regiment.
The 1918 register of electors listed William’s mother at 21 Baddow Road (later renumbered as 50 and now demolished).