[Skip to content]



  • Commonwealth War Grave Commission headstone marking his grave at Dartmore Cemetery, Becordel-Becourt, Somme. Photograph courtesy of Murray Biddle.
Person Details
He was the second son of James Crofts and Elizabeth Crofts (nee Beighton). James (b. March 1851) and Elizabeth (b. June 1849) were married in 1874 (marriage registered A/M/J Radford) and had five children of whom only four were still living at the time of the 1911 Census. Four children were named on the census between 1881 and 1911: Arthur James (birth registered 1877, J/F/M Radford), Alice Beighton (b. 10 November 1878), Frederic Wilkinson (b. 1883, O/N/D Nottingham), Beatrice Helen (b. 14 June 1890). All the children were born in Sneinton. In 1881 James (30) a solicitor's general clerk and hosier, and Elizabeth (31) were living with their two children, Arthur (4) and Alice (2) at 10 Sneinton Road, Sneinton, together with a female general servant. By 1891 they had moved to 326 Alfreton Road, Radford. James was now a solicitor's clerk and he and his wife had four children, Arthur (14), Alice (12) Frederic (7) and Beatrice (9 months). The family was living at 339 Alfreton Road by the time of the 1901 Census, although only three children were still living at home; Alice (22) an assistant teacher, Frederic (17) and Beatrice (10). The eldest son, Arthur (24), was living in lodgings in Blackburn, Lancashire, where he was employed as an assistant master in a science school. Arthur James married Ethel Elizabeth Hancocks on 10 June 1905 at St James, Handsworth. In 1911 they were living at 2 Bedford Villas, Southbury Road, Enfield, with their two children, Hilda Ethel (4) and Eileen (1), and Ethel's widowed mother, Annie Hancocks (56). Arthur was a science master employed by Middlesex Education Committee. They later lived at 113 Southbury Road, Enfield, which is where Ethel died on 28 July 1953; Administration of her Will was awarded to Arthur, a retired headmaster. Frederic's eldest sister, Alice, married Arthur Hugh Middleton in 1907 (marriage registered A/M/J Nottingham). In 1911 Alice and Arthur were living at 29 St Dunstan's Crescent, Worcester, with their two year old daughter, Enid Mary (2). Arthur (31) was a bank clerk for the Capitol and Counties Bank Ltd. By 1919 they were living at Walcot College Road, Epsom, Surrey, and were still living at this address when Arthur died on 11 January 1927. Alice remained in the family home until her death at the age of 96 on 8 April 1975. Frederic married Mary Elizabeth Adams in 1910 (marriage registered J/F/M Nottingham). In 1911 Frederic (27) was an assistant master at a secondary school in Enfield, Middlesex, and living at 25 Gardenia Road, Bush Hill Park, Enfield. He was alone in the home on the night of the census as his wife Mary (25) and their two month old daughter, Margaret Elizabeth, were at her parents' home at 7 Albany Road, New Basford. In 1913 they had another child, John FA (birth registered J/F/M Edmonton, Middlesex). When probate was awarded in 1916 (Administration London) Frederic's home address was given at 200 Mansfield Road, Nottingham, although Ethel later lived at 34 Owthorpe Grove, Sherwood. Frederic's parents and his youngest sister, Beatrice, were living at 2 Albany Road, in 1911; this was still his parents address when he died in 1916. Beatrice, the youngest sibling, married William Wheatley, a school master, at Epson St Martin on 7 August 1919; her brother Arthur was one of the witnesses. Her address at the time of her marriage was Walcot College Road, Epsom, the home of her married sister, Alice Middleton. Beatrice died aged 79 in 1969 (death registered December Richmond-on-Thames). At some point after Frederic's death, his parents appear to have moved to Epsom, Surrey, to live with their daughter Alice Middleton as hers was the address given for James Crofts on the Probate record when he died on 19 December 1934 (buried Epsom Cemetery). James' widow, Elizabeth, died in 1936 at the age of 85 (buried Epsom Cemetery).
Educated at the Nottingham High School. Awarded BSc. in 1908. Science master at the Foundation School, Whitechapel.
15 Sep 1916
32
38752 - CWGC Website
Captain
  • MC MC Military Cross
17th Bn London Regiment
Frederic served in France from 9 March 1915. He was awarded the Military Cross in May 1916. He was wounded in action on 15 September 1916 and died at a dressing station the same day. He qualified for the 1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. 15th September 1916: High Wood finally taken The attack on the wider front was preceded by a three day artillery bombardment, but at High Wood the opposing front lines were considered too close together for this to be done. Four tanks were to lead the infantry advance at High Wood, and the principal attacking force was to be the 47th (London) Division, part of III Corps. On their right were the New Zealand Division, and on their left the 50th Division. The 47th had only recently come down to the Somme and were commanded by Major-General Charles Barter. They relieved the 1st Division in front of High Wood on the 10th of September. Barter and his brigade commanders were unhappy with the plan of attack proposed, and wanted to change it. They felt (and proved to be right) that tanks would not be able to operate in the mass of tree stumps and craters that High Wood had become, and they also wanted to withdraw their troops temporarily from the front line to allow a bombardment of the German positions before the attack. However III Corps Headquarters refused these changes, and so Barter had to go ahead with the original plan. All four tanks to be used at High Wood had problems, and were late in getting to their start points for the attack. Because of their slow speed, they needed to be well ahead of the infantry to be effective, but in the event when the infantry advanced at 6.20 a.m., they soon left the tanks behind. None of the four tanks made great progress, although in one case their gun did harass the enemy. Two tanks ditched, one was set on fire and the last (Clan Ruthven) got stuck on a tree stump. A success elsewhere, the tanks were not able at that stage to deal with land as damaged as that in High Wood. The infantry attack on the wood was made by the London Irish (18th Londons), Poplar & Stepney Rifles (17th Londons) and two companys of the 15th Londons (Civil Service Rifles). They suffered from enemy machine-gun fire as, just before zero, they lay in No Mans Land ahead of their trenches. The German artillery also opened up. After the assault commenced, 80% of the Civil Service Rifles became casualties, with two Company Commanders killed, Captains Arthur Roberts and Leslie Davies. Roberts had crawled close to the German trenches and was shot dead as he gave the order to charge. His body was found only after the War and he is now buried in Cerisy-Gailly French National Cemetery south-west of Albert. The survivors from the London troops got back to their trenches, and two more battalions, the 19th and 20th Londons were sent up in support. On the left of High Wood, troops trying to advance were caught by machine gun fire from the west of High Wood. The 7th Londons on the right, however, advanced to and took the Switch Line. In the Wood, the Post Office Rifles (8th Londons) followed up the attack of their fellow Londoners, and suffered losses from withering machine gun fire. They did however manage to reach the German trenches. The 6th Londons followed on at 8.20 a.m. By mid-morning there were five battalions desperately fighting for possession of High Wood, and they called for an artillery barrage on the west and north-west part of the wood, and trench mortars to bombard the eastern portion. The Civil Service Rifles attacked once more after this, and the Germans started to surrender. By 1 p.m. on the 15th of September, the British finally held High Wood, and it had been taken, after all the attempts described above, by the 47th (London) Division. But success came at a price. The Poplar & Stepney Rifles (17th Londons) suffered 332 casualties, and the other battalions involved had suffered serious losses as well. Crofts was mortally wounded during this engagement and died at a dressing station close by on the same day. He was awarded his Military Cross in May 1916.
Nottingham Evening Post obituary (abridged) 29 September 1916: 'Crofts, died of wounds, September 15th 1916, Captain Frederic Wilkinson Crofts, London regiment, husband of Mary E Crofts (nee Adams) and son of Mr and Mrs James Crofts, Albans Road, Sherwood Rise, age 32.' Nottingham Evening Post, Roll of Honour, 29 September 1916: ‘Killed. Captain FW Crofts. Captain FW Crofts, aged 32, who died of wounds on September 15th, was the younger son of Mr and Mrs Jas Crofts, Albany-road, Sherwood-rise. On the outbreak of war he was a science master at the Foundation School, Whitechapel, having obtained his B.Sc. degree in 1908. Early in 1914 he received a commission in the London Regiment, and proceeded on active service in March last year. Four months ago he was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry. The deceased leaves a widow and two children.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Probate: Crofts Frederic Wilkinson of 200 Mansfield-road Nottingham died 15 September 1916 in France Administration (with Will) London 9 December to Mary Elizabeth Crofts widow. Effects £643 12s. 4d. Widow's address on Medal Roll and CWGC record: 34 Owthorpe Grove, Sherwood, Nottingham. Probate: Croft James of 67 College-road Epsom Surrey died 19 December 1934 Probate Nottingham 19 February to Elizabeth Crofts widow. Effects £623 2s, 11d.
Remembered on

Photos

  • Commonwealth War Grave Commission headstone marking his grave at Dartmore Cemetery, Becordel-Becourt, Somme. Photograph courtesy of Murray Biddle.
    Frederick Wilkinson Crofts - Commonwealth War Grave Commission headstone marking his grave at Dartmore Cemetery, Becordel-Becourt, Somme. Photograph courtesy of Murray Biddle.