Lewis Crane

Name Lewis Crane
Corps Leicestershire Regiment
Rank Colour Sergeant
Service No.
Date/Place of entry
Date of death 1955

Lewis Crane was born in 1876 in Leicester, the fifth child and second son of eight children of John Crane and his wife Catherine nee Burford. John, a brick setter, was originally from Cottingham but worked in Kent before settling in the St. Margaret’s district of Leicester by 1871. Ten years later the family had relocated to Knighton and were still there in 1891, by which time Lewis was earning a living making boxes.

He cannot be traced in the 1901 census but in 1911 he and his wife of two years were listed living with his sister Mary Ann and her husband William Cox in Knighton. Lewis’s occupation was soldier, so it is possible he was serving in 1901. A soldier listed as Lance Corporal G.L Crane was serving in the 1st Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment during the 1899 - 1902 Boer War. This is very possibly irrelevant as Lewis’s birth registration does not include any name other than Lewis. However, in the 1939 census he is listed as George Lewis Crane and other known family members living at the same address prove it is Lewis himself.

If he was the G L Crane of the 1st Battalion – it was exasperatingly commonplace for newly enlisted servicemen to use a name other than or in addition to the one they were registered under - he could have been in the 1st Battalion when it fought to relieve the Siege of Ladysmith. (If anyone knows either way, I’d be grateful for clarification.)

Lewis must have had a substantial service record before World War One as the Leicestershire Regiment website lists him as Colour Sergeant Major in the 5th Battalion. The rank of Colour sergeant was a non - commissioned title above sergeant and below warrant officer class 2. It was originally introduced into British Army infantry regiments to reward long serving sergeants, and was considered a very prestigious achievement, normally given only to those who had shown exceptional courage in battle.

From October 1913, British infantry battalions were reorganised into four companies of four, each with two colour sergeants. The senior of the pair was appointed to the new rank of company sergeant major and the junior to that of company quartermaster sergeant, after which the rank of colour sergeant was abolished.
The 1/5th Battalion Leicestershires landed at Le Havre in February 1915 and the 2/5th in February 1917 after a tour of duty in Ireland. There’s no service record for Lewis, just a statement on the Leicestershire Regiment website that he fought in the War.  He could have been in either of these units.

Lewis married Alice Kirk in 1909 and in 1939 was employed as a Colliery Weigh Clerk at Ashby Woulds near Ashby de la Zouche.  The younger of their five children were living with them. Lewis’s late nephew Charles Lewis and his family had also settled in the district after the war. Lewis died in 1955 in the Coalville district.

He was related to over thirty servicemen descended from the Crane families of Cottingham. Their surnames were Crane, Coles, Wade, Martin, Sculthorpe, Blount, Groocock, Timson, Crook, Allett and Scott.