Sunday, August 12, 2007

Charles Craddock - twenty one years a soldier

Charles Craddock's service record survives at the National Archives; so does that of his brother Walter. Both men were regular soldiers who enlisted in the army long before the First World War was declared.

I see that my web hosts are closed for the weekend for essential maintenance. Therefore, as a stop-gap measure until I am able to update his page entry on the site, I am pasting his service history here:

Charles Stephen Craddock, first noted by Chailey Parish Magazine in October 1914 as serving his King and Country, was born in Lewes, Sussex in 1879; his birth registered in the September quarter of that year. He appears on the 1881 census of England and Wales as a one year old infant living at North Place, Lewes, Sussex. Also noted at the household are Elizabeth Craddock (head of the household, married, aged 23 and noted as a general labourer’s wife) and her eldest son William G Craddock.

Ten years later, by the time the 1891 census was taken, Elizabeth is still noted as the head of the household (and now living at No 6, Cliffe Square, Lewes) but is recorded as being a widow earning her living as a washerwoman. William, aged 13 is working as a farm boy and Charles (12) is recorded as a scholar. However, there are two more mouths to feed: Walter Craddock (aged ten) and Annie Craddock (aged four).

Charles does not appear on the 1901 census because he’d enlisted in the army in 1898 and was fighting the Boers in South Africa. His brother Walter was also in uniform and appears on the census as a 19 year old soldier stationed at Grand Redoubt, Eastbourne.

Charles’s army service record survives in the WO364 Army Pension series at the National Archives in Kew, and it makes fascinating reading. He joined the Royal Sussex Regiment at Chichester on 10th January 1898 and was given the service number 5510. He was already serving part time with the 3rd (Volunteer) Battalion of the Sussex Regiment when he joined the regular army, his stated trade or calling being labourer. He was aged 18 and 11 months, stood five feet, five and a half inches tall and weighed 122lbs.

On 22nd February 1898 Charles was posted to the 1st Battalion and appears to have served with this unit until 1st March 1902 when he was posted to the 2nd Battalion. He had originally joined up to serve seven years with the colours and five on the reserve but he extended his period of service to eight years (on 1st April 1904) and then again to twelve years on 26th January 1906. In common with many army service records of the time, Charles’s record is full of entries granting, and then forfeiting, good conduct pay or badges. Between 1900 and 1907 there are no less than fourteen entries as he was first awarded a good conduct badge or pay and then lost it again due to some minor misdemeanour.

Charles was stationed in England until September 1899 and then five months in Malta. He was then sent out to South Africa in February 1900 and remained there for just over two years. His next posting was to India in March 1902 and he spent eight months there before returning to England. He was at “Home” between December 1902 and June 1904 and was then posted out to Malta again, remaining there for eleven months. He then spent 22 months in Crete before returning to England in March 1907 where he then remained until discharged to the Army Reserve on 9th January 1910; exactly twelve years after he first enlisted.

At some point during his service, his mother Elizabeth, noted as his next of kin, moved from Cliffe Square in Lewes to Sheffield Park which falls within Chailey Parish.

On 25th January 1910, Charles married Elizabeth Burns (spinster) at the register office in Maresfield, Sussex and July the following year, their daughter Lily Elizabeth was born. Three years later in March 1914 the couple would have a son, Charles Joseph Craddock, who much later, would serve as a regular soldier with the Grenadier Guards.

Charles senior however, was not yet finished with military life. In October 1911 he attested for service with section D of the Army Reserve. His previous period of service on the Reserve had expired on 9th January 1910 and his re-enlistment into Section D effectively meant that if required, he could be recalled to the colours. He was then aged 32 years and appeared to have grown two and a half inches as his height is given as five feet, eight. He had a dark complexion, brown eyes and dark brown hair. He was tattooed on both arms and on his chest. Charles gave his trade as railway labourer and his address as 2 Market Lane, Lewes.

He then presumably settled down to civilian life for three years but was immediately recalled to the colours when Britain declared war on Germany, being mobilised on 5th August 1914.

Charles did not serve overseas with the Royal Sussex Regiment but instead remained at the regimental depot in Sussex. He was transferred, very briefly, to number 608 Home Service Employment Company of The Labour Corps in 1917 but then transferred back to The Royal Sussex Regiment on 30th November that year as “not suitable”. He was posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, on 2nd May 1918.

By this stage, according to his service record, he was living at Railway Cottages, Sheffield Park, Sussex. As Sheffield Park falls within Chailey Parish, this is why he appears on the Reverend Jellicoe’s list of Chailey serving parishioners. In October 1915, the parish magazine had noted that Pte C Craddock was serving with the 2nd Royal Sussex Regiment in England and had repeated this information every month up to and including the final published roll call in July 1919. He was certainly in England but with the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion rather than the 2nd. He was finally demobilised on 11th March 1919, his address now given as c/o Mrs Hobden, Plumpton Green, Plumpton, Sussex.

Charles Craddock died of TB at 40, Valence Road, Lewes on 13th March 1945. He was 65 years old and his profession noted as retired railway platelayer.

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