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  • The Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone marking the grave of Leonard Crouch at Stapleford cemetery 
Nottingham. Courtesy of Peter Gillings
Person Details
Thorneywood Nottingham
Leonard was the second surviving son of James and Harriet Caroline Crouch née Hirst. His father James Crouch was born in 1869 in Chard, Somerset (bap. Chard 16 January 1874); the family had moved to Nottingham by 1871 when they were living in the St Ann's area. Leonard's mother Harriett Caroline Hirst was born in 1864 at Nottingham. James and Harriett were married in 1894 (A/M/J Nottingham) and went on to have six children, sadly three were to die in infancy or early childhood. Four children were named on the census of 1901 and 1911: Bernard b. Carlton 18 May 1895 (A/M/J Nottingham), Leonard b. Thorneywood 1898 (O/N/D Nottingham), Frank b. 1899 (O/N/D Nottingham) d. 1901 (J/A/S Sheffield) and Cyril b. Attercliffe, Sheffield, 10 October 1901 (O/N/D Sheffield). In 1901 James (31) a navvy, and Harriett (36) and their three sons Bernard (6), Leonard (2) and Frank (1) were living in Attercliffe, Sheffield, with William and Alice Humphries and their son Horace. James and Harriett's relationship to William Humphries, who was head of household, was given as brother-in-law and sister-in-law. By the time of the 1911 census James and Harriett were living at 'Ewe Lamb Lane Cottage', Nottingham Road, Stapleford, Nottinghamshire, and shown as James Crouch 42 yrs an iron foundry worker, who was living with his wife Harriett Caroline 47 yrs and their children Bernard 16 yrs an iron foundry worker, Leonard 11 yrs a scholar and Cyril whose age on the census was given as 6 yrs. Also in the household was James' widowed father, William Frederick Crouch (79). The family was still living at the same address at the time of Bernard's death in 1916. Both James and Harriet died in 1935 (J/A/S Nottingham), Harriett on 1 July and James on 12 July. At the time of their deaths they were living at 69a Nottingham Road, Stapleford. There is a record on the 1939 England & Wales Register of a Cyril Crouch (b. 10 October 1901), a textile worker, living at 42 Manor Avenue, Stapleford, in the household of George and Annie WIlson. He died following a road accident on 31 December 1976 (see 'extra information'); the probate record gave his address as 38 Manor Avenue, Stapleford.
01 Jan 1918
19
2750742 - CWGC Website
S/22919
Private
16th Bn (Princess Louise's) Argylle and Sutherland Highlanders
Leonard Crouch enlisted at Ilkeston on 25th September 1916 whilst living at Stapleford. He gave his age as 18 yrs and 6 months and his address as Ewe Lamb Cottages, Nottingham Road, Stapleford, his next of kin was his father James of the same address. He was posted to the 16th battalion Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders. Leonard was one of six men killed on 1st January 1918 at Pegwell Bay, Sandwich, Kent, between Deal and Ramsgate, when trying to recover a floating mine from the sea. A coroner's court held an inquiry into the event at the conclusion of which the jury found that the deaths were due to misadventure. A military court of enquiry was held on 3rd January 1918, the president of which was Lt Colonel R.P. Maclachlan 11th battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers,. Leonard's body was returned to his family who buried him at Stapleford Cemetery.
Dover Express, 4 January 1918: ‘Terrible Mine Explosion. Thirty Men Killed & Injured. On Tuesday a tremendous report was heard in many parts of Dover, the houses in the higher parts of the town being shaken, although in some of the low lying parts nothing was heard or felt. The explosion was that of a mine which had been washed up near Sandwich, and which exploded whilst being hauled out of the water. Six men were killed, and some twenty-four injured. 'The inquest was held at Stonar on Wednesday, on the six victims of the explosion of a mine which was washed ashore between Deal and Ramsgate. Five men definitely identified are William P Richardson, 31, of Hove Harry Ashbridge, 39,, Frederick Wain, 24, of Ramsgate; J Andus, 26, of Saltburn, and Leonard Crouch, 19. The sixth body is so badly mutilated that identification is impossible, but as a man named William Bentham, aged 26, of Southport, is missing it is assumed to be him. 'It appeared from the evidence that the men were unaware of the deadly nature of the object they saw floating in the sea. At first it was taken for a buoy or a float, and someone jocularly suggested it was a tub of margarine, and it seems that the men’s object in retrieving it was the hope of salvage. 'A witness named Wilkins said when first seen it was about 30 or 40 yards out. He was sent by Richardson to report to the to report to the coastguard, and while he was gone some of the men secured ropes to effect the salvage. When he returned he took the rope and waded out knee-deep to fix it to the object. He ran up to his hut to change his wet socks, and was returning when there was a violent explosion. He noticed that the other men were crowded round it as he walked back. He was thrown flat down by the explosion. 'Another witness named Glover said when he heard someone say the salved object was a mine he was naturally interested and ran down to see it. It was then partly out of the water. Some of the men were then tampering with a brass cap on the mine, and he remarked that it was a dangerous thing to do. When he last saw Richardson he was down on his knees examining it. The witness walked away, but had not gone 20 yards when the explosion occurred, and he was knocked down. He was struck by a fragment of the mine, but Wilkins escaped with only a slight cut. 'In returning a verdict of death by misadventure, the jury expressed the opinion that the coastguard who was called to the spot should have acquainted the men with the dangerous character of their find.’ Above report courtesy of www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk Leonard's brother Bernard William Crouch served as an Able Seaman in Howe battalion, Royal Naval Division, and was killed in France on 13th November 1916 (Thiepval Memorial). (See ROH) Long Eaton Advertiser, ‘Deaths’, 5 July 1935: ‘Crouch. On July 1, at 121, Highbury-road, Nottingham, Harriett Caroline Crouch, of 69a, Nottingham-road, Stapleford, aged 72 years..’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Long Eaton Advertiser, ‘Deaths’, 19 July 1935: ‘Crouch. On July 12, James Crouch of 69a Nottingham-road, Stapleford, aged 65 years.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Long Eaton Advertiser, 13 January 1977: ‘Police Appeal for Witnesses. An appeal by police for witnesses to come forward with information about an accident on New Year’s Eve in which a Stapleford man was fatally injured, has been unsuccessful so far. Mr Cyril Crouch (73), of Manor Avenue, Stapleford, was a pedestrian when in collision with a car at the junction of Pinfold Lane and Church Street, Stapleford. He was taken to Derbyshire Royal Infirmary but died soon after arrival there. The driver of the vehicle was not injured. A police spokesman said on Wednesday that it was important for anyone who saw the accident to contact them as quickly as possible. ‘The accident happened at about 5.15 on December 31 and I would have thought a lot of people would have been about at that time. However, we have had very little help to date’’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)
Remembered on

Photos

  • The Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone marking the grave of Leonard Crouch at Stapleford cemetery 
Nottingham. Courtesy of Peter Gillings
    Leonard Crouch - The Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone marking the grave of Leonard Crouch at Stapleford cemetery Nottingham. Courtesy of Peter Gillings