Russell Eric Crowther


Private 205211, 1st/5th Battalion Prince of Wales's Own (West Yorkshire Regiment)

Killed in Action 25th April 1918 aged 19

Buried at Sanctuary Wood, Ypres, Belgium

Son of Thomas Wood and Kate Crowther

Lived Battye Street School House, Heckmondwike

Russell was born in July 1898 in Heckmondwike. By 1901 he is listed as living with his family at 1, Parker Street, Heckmondwike. At this time his father Thomas Wood Crowther is 39 years old and is working as a Schoolmaster in the Board School, probably the former Battye Street School. His mother Kate was born in Patley Bridge in 1871.

Thomas Wood Crowther, Russell's father, was born in Heckmondwike on 27 May 1861 and his parents were John Crowther (1834-1881) of Heckmondwike and Ann Wood (1834-1901) also born in Heckmondwike , her parents were Thomas Wood and Catherine (Kate) Parker nee Hawkin.

Ann Wood, Russell's grandmother, was born in 1834 and is listed as living with her father, a Blanket Maker, Tom Wood (1801-1871). In 1851 they were living in Goose Hill, in Heckmondwike and Tom is described as being a Sizing Boiler in the woollen trade. He is a widower and employed his daughter, Mary, as Housekeeper. Ann is a Milliner and unmarried aged 17.

Ann and John Crowther, Russell's grandparents were married in 1856 at Birstall Parish Church. John was described as a Stone Mason; his father and father-in-law are both described as Blanket Manufacturers. John and Ann had nine children, Thomas Wood Crowther, Russell's father, was their eldest son. In the 1861 Census John is described as a Mason and living in the Goose Hill area of Heckmondwike. In 1871 the family are living in Tom Wood's houses. John employed 4 men in his masonry business. Thomas Wood Crowther and his sister Catherine, the children, were nearby with their grandfather Tom Wood.

In 1881 the family was reunited in Cemetery Road: John, Ann, their children Emma Elizabeth (21) a Burler (someone who removes knots and loose threads from finished cloth), Thomas Wood Crowther an Assistant Master at the board school, John Henry Crowther (18) a Printer Improver, Rebecca (16) a Burler, Walter (12) and Ernest Parker Crowther (9) Scholars. By the 1891 census John has died and the family is headed by Ann. Thomas Wood Crowther is now a Certificated Schoolmaster he and his siblings are all single. Emma and Rebecca are described as Carpet Whippers, Walter is a Hairdresser and Ernest is a Grocer's Assistant.

Kate, Russell's mother, moved to Heckmondwike to work as a Milliner at Raleigh Humphries, Drapers in the town and is recorded there in 1891. Kate and Thomas Wood Crowther were married in Pateley Bridge in 1896. In 1901 Kate and her husband are living at Battye Street Board School, Thomas is described as a School Master, Russell and his brother Tom are there, there is a visitor a Mary Morrell (27), a Blouse Maker - Manageress, born in Harrogate. They have a servant Nellie Davies (18). There was a younger brother George Maurice who was born in 1901 but he died in 1902.

Russell is aged 12 on the 1911 census; he is at school, as is his elder brother, Tom Wood Stanley Crowther. Their mother Kate died in 1904, and father remarried Sarah Elizabeth (nee Hoey) in 1906. They are living in the School House, Battye Street. Russell's father is listed as Headmaster. When Russell left school he was apprenticed to F Mallinson the Chemist in Heckmondwike.

Russell enlisted in the army in Heckmondwike and served as a Private in the Prince of Wales's Own (West Yorkshire Regiment). His army number was 205211. He joined the 1st/5th Battalion. The official diary for the events of 25 April describes the horrific situation at the front. There were 18 officers and 548 other ranks killed, wounded or taken prisoner from his Battallion. He was reported as missing in action after only a month in France. His parents received notification of his death via the Agence Internationale de Prisonniers de Guerre in Geneva. His death was reported in a despatch from Berlin on 1 July 1918 - it said he had been buried in a common grave. He was listed as having been killed in action. He was awarded the Victory and the British Medal.

Before his death he had been registered to vote with an address in Parker Street on 1918-19 Spen Valley Electoral Roll.

He was killed on 25 April 1918 and is buried at Ypres (Leper), Arrondissement Leper, West Flanders (West-Vlaanderen), Belgium. His body was initially marked as an unknown British Soldier but he was identified by "Titles and clothing" and his memorial indicates he was reburied near the Memorial in Sanctuary Wood Cemetery in plot 3 row D. His reburial was part of a process of moving bodies to cemeteries to "concentrate" graves to allow for more efficient maintenance.{KW-031}

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