George Crane

Name George Crane
Corps Leicestershire Regiment, 9th Battalion,
Rank Private
Service No. 22386
Date/Place of entry 28 October 1915 at Leicester
Date of death 30 July 1916  Killed in Action
Memorial/Grave Bay 5, Arras Memorial

George Crane was born in Wavertree, Liverpool in 1896, elder son of William Crane and his wife Elisabeth. William was one of the several children of Henry and Mary Crane of Cottingham (more information on the Crane family at or and left the village for Liverpool in 1891, marrying there in the following year.

He was employed as a lamplighter for Liverpool Corporation in 1901 by which time his wife had died, leaving George and his younger brother Ernest. William had come back to Cottingham by 1911 and was living on Rockingham Road with his two sons. He was a farmworker and George a pageboy; he wasn’t the only local boy thus employed, as Thomas William Chambers had been a pageboy in East Carlton ten years before.

George enlisted on 28 October 1915 aged twenty, giving his occupation as waiter, and was placed in the 10th (Reserve) Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment. At the time of his death he was in the 9th Battalion but his full military record has not survived so the date he transferred is not yet known. It’s likely it happened shortly after he enlisted.

The 9th Battalion, Leicester Regiment was raised in Leicester in September 1914, part of Kitchener’s Third New Army. The Battalion initially joined the 23rd Division but was transferred into 110 Brigade, 39th Division.

The 39th crossed to Le Havre in early March 1916 and went to the Somme, remaining on the Western Front for the rest of the war. The Battalion transferred again into the 21st Division of the 4th Army on 9 July 1916 which fought on the Somme at the Battle of Bazentin Ridge from 14 - 17 of that month. This was the start of what became classified as the 2nd Phase of the 1916 Battle of the Somme. It was the first time the Kitchener New Armies had engaged the enemy and many of the new soldiers were inexperienced and patchily trained.

The battle began with a night attack on 14 July which got the Allies through the line of the second German defensive complex, but they then faced determined counter attacks at Guillemont, Delville Wood and Longueval, High Wood and Pozieres. In the heavy fighting, 9194 British soldiers died, 2894 of them from the 21st. By comparison the German infantry lost 2,300.

George was listed as killed in action on 30 July. His name is inscribed on the Arras Memorial where just under 35,000 Allied soldiers who died in the Arras sector between the spring of 1916 and 7 August 1918 and who have no known grave are commemorated.

George’s younger brother Ernest was in the 2nd Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment and was himself killed in action the following March. Their father William, who had no other children, died aged ninety in 1953.

There were several Cranes in the military in 1911 but only one, George and Ernest’s cousin John Crane, can be clearly identified in World War One records. John’s two brothers Charles Walter and William, sons of John Crane and Alice nee West, served in the Royal Field Artillery in India, and the Northamptonshire Regiment respectively in 1911.  Their second cousin Thomas Crane, son of Charles Crane and Alice nee Beadsworth, served in the Leicestershire Regiment in 1911 in India alongside Edwin Towndrow and William James Tansley.