george leonard crane

Name George Leonard Crane
Corps Labour Corps, formerly Leicestershire Regiment
Rank Private
Service No. 616128, 11/22725
Date/Place of entry 15 November 1915, Leicester
Date of death 1961
Memorial/Grave Leicester

George Leonard Crane was born in 1894, the eldest of nine children of George Crane and his wife Florence nee Orpen. George senior initially worked as a clicker in the Leicester shoe trade but later turned to labouring. His father was John Crane, a bricklayer’s labourer from Cottingham who moved to Leicester around 1870 like many other members of the Crane family.

In 1911 George Leonard was still living with his parents and was employed as a butcher. He enlisted in the Leicestershire Regiment in November 1915, giving his occupation as draper’s assistant and was serving in the regiment’s Labour Corps the following year. The 13th (Labour) Battalion of the Leicestershire regiment was formed in the autumn of 1916 and went to France in October where it was assigned to the Third Army. In April 1917 it was transferred to the newly formed Labour Corps as 20th and 21st Labour Companies.

The Labour Corps was manned by officers and men judged as unfit (i.e. rated less than A1) for front line service. Nevertheless, Labour Corps units were frequently deployed for support work within range of enemy guns, often for lengthy periods, and in 1918 were sometimes used as emergency infantry. Whether George Leonard was among these units we don’t know but his medals show he served in France at some point.

As his service record has not survived, we do not know his exact whereabouts during this time, but his application for a pension shows he became ill early in his war career. At enlistment his medical examination declared him fit, but on 29th August 1916 he was said to be suffering from neurasthenia.

According to the Leicestershire Regiment website he landed at Boulogne on 17th August 1918, was posted to Etaples the following day, and then to 183 POW. He was discharged on 15th May 1919.

In February 1921 he was examined by a Special Neurological Board which found him to be shaky, giddy, anxious, worried, having pains on the left side of his body, tremors in both hands, palpitations and a lack of self-confidence. A further examination on 18 May 1922 showed no change, and added that ‘no special treatment is indicated.’
In the summer of 1919 he married Eliza Potter, a Leicester born hosiery worker. They had two children. George Leonard died in 1961.

His younger brother Lewis Charles, usually called Charles, also served in the Leicestershire Regiment before being transferred. In all, he was related to fifteen servicemen named Crane belonging to Cottingham, and a further fifteen descended from the village’s Crane families. Their surnames were Coles, Wade, Martin, Sculthorpe, Blount, Groocock, Timson, Crook and Scott.