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20th May, 2022

Single sentence hides a world of pain for family of fallen Redditch soldier

Ross Crawford 21st Oct, 2018

THE diary entry for the 5th Princess of Wales (Royal Berkshire Regiment) for October 16, 1918, reads ‘11 other ranks rejoin, one other rank killed, seven wounded and three missing’.

It’s a one line entry that hides a world of pain because among those ‘other ranks missing’ was Thomas Albert Hunt, one of the youngest Redditch residents to lose his life in the First World War, and just three weeks from Armistice Day.

His unit, one of Lord Kitchener’s original battalions, although it is doubtful if any of the original soldiers were still there when Thomas enlisted, had fought its way across France, and was marching through Artois when Tom was killed.

He had been born in 1900, the son of Charles and Alice Hunt, who between them had six children.

In the 1911 census their address was at Forge Mills with Charles working as a needle scourer and Alice as a fly dresser.

Tom’s body was never found but he is remembered today on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial which lies between the towns of Cambrai and Arras in France and on the war memorials at St Stephen’s Church and the Bridge Church, St Luke’s.

Francis Edwin Crow had enlisted in the Army Reserve in Redditch in 1915 when he was living in Selly Park and working as a cartridge cleaner.

The son of William, a bicycle maker, and Laura Crow, he’d been born in 1890, one of their seven children.

By 1911 they were living in Summer Street, Redditch – later moving to 109 Bromsgrove Road – and Francis was a painter and decorator.

He married Isobel Gardiner in Redditch on July 8, 1916 and saw service from October 1917 with the Royal Berkshire Regiment.

Described as 5ft 1.5ins tall, he tipped the scales at just 106lbs.

He was transferred to the Sherwood Forresters Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment where, with the 15th Battalion, he joined their drive across northern Europe.

He was killed in action on October 20 and lies buried in the Harlebeke New British Cemetery on the outskirts of Kortrijk in Belgium and is remembered today on the Redditch War Memorial in Plymouth Road.

William Wright served as a gunner with the 135th Heavy Battery Royal Garrison Artillery.

The son of Joseph and Elizabeth Wright, of 111 Evesham Rd, Headless Cross, he was born in 1897 but little else is known of his life.

He was wounded during the conflict and was transferred away from the battlefield to be treated in the military hospital at Etaples on the Channel coast, but died on October 20, 1918.

He lies buried at the Etaples Military Cemetery in France and is remembered today on the War Memorials at St Luke’s C of E First School and at The Bridge Church formerly St Luke’s.

With thanks to:

Remembering Redditch’s Fallen Heroes

http://www.thewardrobe.org.uk/

https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/

http://www.rememberthefallen.co.uk/

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