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War Memorials



In Memory of
JOHN MORLEY CRAMPTON
Private 17390
1st Battn/Kings Own Scottish Borderers
Who Died of Wounds on Saturday, 1st December 1917
Age 21

Plot V Row C Grave 14
Rocquigny-Equancourt British Cemetery, Manancourt, Somme, France

Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
&
Remembered with Honour
Rocquigny-Equancourt British Cemetery

Rocquigny-Equancourt British Cemetery, Manancourt, Somme, France1

John Morley Crampton was born in Dublin, Ireland in 18962, the eldest child of Morley & Annie Elizabeth (née Lucas) Crampton who had lived in Dublin for a short time following their marriage in 1885. Morley Crampton was one of eleven children of John and Sara Ann (née Smedley) Crampton. John (1840-1924) was a founder of Crampton, Son & Clements, a firm of estate agents and auctioneers in Mansfield, Notts. He was one of the pioneers of Wesleyan Methodism, serving as a preacher on the Mansfield Circuit for 59 years. Having first been elected to Mansfield Council in 1891, he served as Mayor in 1902/33. After their return from Dublin in about 1897, Morley and Annie first moved to Nottingham before settling in Beeston Rylands. By 1901, Morley was working as a grocery manager and he and his family were living at 11 Prince of Wales Terrace4. By 1911, the family, now complete with four children, was at 53 Trafalgar Road in the Rylands and Morley had secured a job as receiving clerk at the nearby Ericsson telephone works and John Morley, now 15, had started work as a butcher's errand boy5.

Although his Army Service Record has not survived, it appears that Morley enlisted in November 19146, shortly after the outbreak of war in August 1914. Shortly before then, the family had moved to live in Dumfries, Scotland7 and it was here that John enlisted - with the Kings Own Scottish Borderers, initially with 2nd Battalion8. The main body of the battalion had returned from Dublin where it had been stationed at the outbreak of War and had left for France within days. John, along with the many other new recruits would have needed to complete his basic training before he joined the battalion in France on 27 April 19159.

At some point - we have no record of when - John was transferred to the regiment's 1st Battalion. As it had been in action in Gallipoli during 1915 and was not moved to France until March 1916, it appears that the transfer was not before that date. As both battalions were involved in the Somme battles in 1916, it seems almost certain that, whenever the transfer took place, John took part in this horrendous series of battles which resulted in horrific casualty numbers - over 57,000 British on the first day alone.

In the spring of 1917, 1st battalion - which, in all probably, included Private Crampton - took part in all three phases of the Battle of the Scarpe in the Arras area and then went on to play its part in the Third Battle of Ypres (generally known as Passchendaele). During the three month period of this battle, John and his colleagues would have faced brutal fighting and terrible conditions, including deep mud made worse by the terrible weather and the constant heavy casualties.

In the early part of November 1917, 29th Division - of which 1st Battalion was part - took part in intensive and vigorous training for what was to be the Battle of Cambrai. When this was launched against the Hindenburg Line on November 20th, a wide range of new tactics and methods were deployed, including the use of tanks in co-ordination with infantry, improved artillery/infantry co-ordination and ground-attacks by the Royal Flying Corps. The early days of the battle saw considerable success, despite difficulties with the tanks, and the line was penetrated. However, strong counter-offensive by the enemy, launched on 30th November, took the British by surprise although they fought back vigorously. By 7th December, when the battle ended, virtually all early gains had been lost10.

It appears likely that Private Crampton was amongst the large number of men wounded during the German counter-offensive. He died of his wounds on 1st December, probably having been evacuated to either 21st or 48th Casualty Clearing Stations, then at Ytres on the Pas de Calais. He was buried in the nearby Rocquigny-Equancourt British Cemetery, about halfway between Rocquigny and Equancourt on the north side of the road just west of the crossing road from Etricourt to Ytres.

Etricourt had been occupied by Commonwealth troops at the beginning of April 1917 during the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line. It was lost on the 23 March 1918 when the Germans advanced, but regained at the beginning of September. The cemetery was begun in 1917 and used until March 1918, mainly by the 21st and 48th Casualty Clearing Stations posted at Ytres, and to a small extent by the Germans, who knew it as "Etricourt Old English Cemetery". Burials were resumed by Commonwealth troops in September 1918 and the 3rd Canadian and 18th Casualty Clearing Stations buried in it in October and November 1918. The cemetery contains 1,838 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the First World War. 21 of the burials are unidentified and nine Commonwealth graves made by the Germans which cannot now be found are represented by special memorials. The cemetery also contains 198 German war burials and the graves of ten French civilians11.

Private Crampton was posthumously awarded the 1915 Star, the Victory Medal, the British Medal and, apparently, the Military Medal12. His Army financial effects of 8 2s 3d were paid to his mother, as his sole legatee, on 20 April 1918 and she received his War Gratuity of 14 on 20 November 191913.

Although his parents and their family still appear to have been living in Dumfries at the end of the war, Morley and Annie did eventually return to Beeston and were living at 14 Birch Avenue at the time of Morley's death in August 194314.


Footnotes
1The photograph of Rocquigny-Equancourt British Cemetery is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was registered in Dublin South Registration District in Q1/1896 (Ref 2 630).
3There is a short biography of John Crampton with a photograph of him as Mayor on the Our Mansfield website (www.ourmansfieldandarea.org.uk/page_id__291.aspx)
41901 Census, Beeston - Piece 3153 Folio 81 - 11 Prince of Wales Terrace.
51911 Census, Beeston - Piece 20429 RD429 SD3 ED4 Sched 57 - 52 Trafalgar Road. His siblings were Winifred Annie (b. c1898), Albert Edward (b. c1901) and Florence Kate (b. c1903).
6This date has been calculated based on the amount of his War Gratuity
8This is their address in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records. John's enlistment at Dumfries is recorded in 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.
8The details of 1st and 2nd Battalion's deployment is based on their entries on the Forces War Records website (www.forces-war-records.co.uk/units/264/kings-own-scottish-borderers).
9His date of arrival in France is recorded in his Medal Card, available on ancestry.com.
10This short account of the battle is based on the Battalion's war diary, available on ancestry.com.
11This description of Rocquigny-Equancourt British Cemetery is based on that included in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.
12John's medal awards (except for the Military Medal) are recorded on his Medal Card, available on ancestry.com. His possible award of the Military Medal appears in the London Gazette, 19 March 1918.
13Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929, available on ancestry.com.
14Morley died at Nottingham General Hospital on 23 August 1943. The Birch Avenue address is recorded as his place of residence when his modest estate was proved by his widow (Probate Calendar). His widow is recorded as still living there in 1952 (Street Directory).

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