1918-2008: Ninety Years of Remembrance

Soldier Record

Harry Cruttenden

Contributed by: Janet Stevenson, on 2008-11-07

No portrait available
Rank
First Name Harry
Surname Cruttenden
Year of Birth 1886
Year of Death 1914
Regiment Royal Field Artillery
Place of Wartime Residence East Sussex

Harry's Story

As a child I knew that I had had a great Uncle who was killed in the great war, the reason I knew about this was not because there were photos of him, as far as I know none exist. It was because my Father had been named after him. However the only story he told about him was that they had got his name wrong on the local war memorial. About two years ago I decided to look into my family tree and managed to contact a gentleman who had already done this, it was his records that told us what had happened to Harry.

He remains the only Englishman in a French graveyard

Harry had joined the regulars as an under aged solider in September 1913. He did his training and in August 1914 he went to France, he immediatly got caught up in the retreat from Mons. On 26th August just four days after he arrived in France he was killed near the small village of Caullery as the army retreated during the battle of Le Cateau. His unit had been told to cover the army as they retreted. The war diary notes that one man and two horses were killed and two men wounded.

I talked to my Aunt, the only living member of the family that had any first hand memory of people who knew Harry. She told me that as far as she and anyone were concerned Harry had no grave as he had been blown up so there was nothing to bury. She was amazed when we were able to show her pictures of his grave. We have met the decendants of the people who buried him, for some reason he was never moved to any of the nearby war cemetaries as were the Germans buried with him that day, and he remains the only Englishman in a French graveyard. His grave tended by the War Graves commission, is visited every 11th November and flowers laid there by the villagers.

His own family didn't get to see his grave until my husband and I discoverd its existence two years ago and made a visit, his memorial is indeed incorrect, and his own immediate family had no idea what happened to him. He was just 18 when he died. They recieved his war medals but were never told he had a grave.

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