Topic: Robert Albert Crawford

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Robert Albert Crawford (Service No. 34639) was a First World War soldier with links to Upper Riccarton

Robert Albert Crawford was born into a Church of England family on the 10th of September 1897 in Yaldhurst, Christchurch. His mother and father were Louisa and James Crawford and he had two siblings; Louisa Jane (born 1888) and William George (born 1892). 

At the time Robert enlisted in the army he was living at 9 Anglesea Street, Riccarton with his mother and recorded her as his next of kin. Sadly his father had passed away in 1911 in Christchurch Hospital. Robert was working as a farmhand for T. A. Guy in Yaldhurst. He was educated in Upper Riccarton. Robert was 5 foot 6 inches tall and weighed 130 pounds. He had black hair, hazel eyes and a fresh complexion. He never married. His service number is 34639.

On Robert’s attestation form he gave his date of birth as 11th April 1896 but he was really born on the 10th September 1897. This meant he was actually too young to sign up for the war.

When Robert went off to the Great War with the 20th Reinforcements he was ranked as a Private. He fought with the Canterbury Infantry Regiment, 3rd Battalion. He left Wellington, New Zealand on 7th December 1916, so would have spent Christmas at sea, as the ship didn’t arrive in England until 18th February 1917. He received further training at Sling Camp and Codford Camp before shipping out to France on 28th May 1917.

Robert suffered a gunshot wound to the head during battle. He received initial treatment from the No. 3 Australian Field Ambulance and was then evacuated to the 12th General Hospital in Rouen, France where he died on 8th October 1917 at the young age of 20. He had been at the battle front for only 4 months and 10 days.

Robert was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. These were sent to his mother in New Zealand. He was the only one in his family to serve in World War 1. He is now buried at St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, France and is also remembered on the Roll of Honour at the Upper Riccarton Memorial Library.

In 1918 his family put this poem in the Press newspaper to honour Robert’s memory;

No toiling yonder, and no weariness,

No disappointed, and no more distress;

"The future bright," the past all understood,

We'll see that all the way He led was good.

No burdens yonder, all sorrow past,

No burdens yonder, home at last.

—Inserted by his loving mother, L. Crawford, and brother and sister-in-law, G. and A. Crawford.

 Researched by Riccarton High School students Enda Brennan and Josh Bridgman

Related resources

References

  • THE ROLL OF HONOUR, In Memorium notice, Press, Volume LIV, Issue 16337, 8 October 1918, page 1
  • DEATH FROM POISON.,New Zealand Times, Volume XXXIII, Issue 7920, 2 October 1911, page 7
  • FOR KING AND EMPIRE KILLED IN ACTION PRIVATE R A CRAWFORD, Sun, Volume IV, Issue 1147, 15 October 1917, page 4
  • THE ROLL OF HONOUR.,Press, Volume LIII, Issue 16032, 15 October 1917, page 1

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Robert Albert Crawford


First Names:Robert Albert
Last Name:Crawford
Place of Birth:Yaldhurst, Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand