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SOLDIER WHO SURVIVED WAR BUT LOST LIFE IN EASTER RISING
Charles Love Crockett
By Trevor Temple.
Among the fatalities of the short-lived Easter Rebellion of 1916 was 2nd Lieutenant (Temporary) Charles Love, 11/12th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, who died from gunshot wounds at King George V Hospital, Dublin, on April 29, 1916.
His remains lie interred in Londonderry City Cemetery, and his name is commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.
Educated at Foyle College, he was a member of Second Derry (Strand Road) Presbyterian Church, and the eldest son of Andrew Alexander and Rebecca Love Crockett, Mountfield, Templemore Park, Londonderry.
He was from a unionist background and signed the 1912 Ulster Covenant pledging resistance to Home Rule.
An esteemed member of the Derry YMCA, Charles Love Crockett was one of the many Ulstermen who enlisted as privates in the Ulster Division. He was formerly in the Queen's University OTC, and on receipt of his commission was attached to the 12th Battalion Inniskillings. He accompanied a detachment from his battalion at the Enniskillen depot to the disturbed area in Dublin, and there met his death.
Controversy and confusion surrounded the death of 2nd Lieutenant Crockett. The staunchly nationalist Derry Journal said that he had been shot by inadvertence by "one of the military sentries." The Derry Standard (Monday, May 8, 1916), however, contradicted the statement, saying that a medical examination of the wound revealed that it was caused either by an expanding bullet or by a piece of metal fired from a shotgun, and that it could not have been fired by a service bullet.
The newspaper went on to say that it was known that the rebels employed dum-dum bullets and cartridges filled with small pieces of iron.
The following letter, uncovered in the Public Record Office in London (WO 339/1254), dated May 2, 1916, and written by Crockett's commanding officer, would appear to clear up the mystery:
"Sir, I beg to report that 2/Lieut CL Crockett, of the Battalion under my command, was killed at Dublin under the following circumstances – On Thursday 27th ult. He went out at 10.15 pm, and was posted at Aldborough House, near Fitzwilliam Street, with the Lewis Gun Section. He was instructed to get in touch with the Officers of the Dublin Fusiliers, whose headquarters were about 100 yards up the Street, and about 10.15 pm he left his post to do so. On running across the Street he was fired at and hit by a Sentry, death being instantaneous."
The funeral of Charles Love Crockett took place on Wednesday, May 3, 1916. Full military honours were abandoned at the request of his parents, and no military sign could be seen except the walking four abreast behind the hearse of four of his brother officers. It being impossible to get a coffin in Dublin, one was conveyed by motor from Londonderry, and the remains of 2nd Lieutenant Crockett were brought back from the Irish capital to the Maiden City.
The transferring of the coffin from the motor to the open hearse was carried out by 2nd Lieutenant Crockett's brother officers from the 12th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, Enniskillen, Lieutenant J Scott and Second Lieutenants Campbell Sweeney, J Cooper, and RJ McWhirter. Upon and around the coffin were placed beautiful wreaths. One was from Colonel Sir John Leslie and officers 12th Battalion, another from the warrant and non-commissioned officers, while a third was sent by the men of Crockett's company. Another wreath was from the officers and boys of Second Derry Company Boys' Brigade. A wreath was inscribed 'From the sorrowing father and mother, sisters, and brothers,' and the card attached to another had the inscription 'In loving remembrance of Dear Charlie, from Mabel and Hilda.'
The carriages behind the hearse contained the chief mourners – deceased's father, Mr A. A. Crockett, JP; his brothers, Cadet John Crockett and Master Andrew Crockett. As the funeral procession passed slowly to Londonderry City Cemetery soldiers stood at attention and saluted, blinds were drawn, and establishments closed.
Preaching at morning service in Strand Road Presbyterian Church, on Sunday, May 7, 1916, the Reverend J. Carson Greer made sympathetic reference to the death of Charles Crockett, who, he erroneously said, had been shot by the rebels in Dublin, where he had gone to play a soldier's part on behalf of King and country. Having spoken of the great admiration for the fine qualities of the young officer, the preacher said – On his twentieth birthday his life work was done, and he heard the Master's 'Well done.' He was one of the first to respond to the Empire's appeal to all her loyal sons, and in the true spirit of Christian chivalry he never for a moment wavered. Mr Greer also expressed the sympathy of himself and the congregation for the sorrowing parents, brothers, and sisters.
The name of Charles L. Crockett was read aloud at a memorial service held, in St Columb's Cathedral, Londonderry, on Sunday, July 30, 1916, to pay homage to the memory of the men of the city of Derry, who died during the second year of the First World War. His name was again read out during a special memorial service held in First Derry Presbyterian Church, on Friday, August 4, 1916, to pay tribute to the Presbyterian soldiers of the city of Londonderry, who had died during the first two years of the Great War. The name of Charles Love Crockett was also among a list of Great War dead, associated with Foyle College, Londonderry, read aloud during that College's annual prize giving ceremony, held on Thursday, December 19, 1918.