Oldham Historical Research Group


George Arthur Sutton

Private Henry Cragg - 38050, Royal Army Medical Corps (R.A.M.C.)
Post WW1 - 7261635 (R.A.M.C.)
of Oldham

Henry Cragg was born in Oldham in early 1896. His father was John Edmund Cragg, born in Stockport around 1860. His mother was Mary Ellen (née Leishman). who was from Cardiff, in Wales. Their marriage was registered in Oldham in Spring 1880 and on the 1881 census they are shown living on Spring Street, Waterhead Mill, Oldham. With them is Ellen's widowed mother and also 4 of her siblings. All of them are shown as working in the cotton industry.

On the 1901 census Henry is recorded as age 5 and living on Leamington Street, Waterhead, with his parents, three elder brothers (James, George and John) his elder sister, Ellen and younger brother, Frank.

On the 1911 census Henry is with the family on Spring Street and there is another younger sibling, Bertha age 8.

Henry's Military Service record doesn't appear to have survived although his medal roll index card, his discharge/transfer documents and the Roll of Individuals Entitled to the General Service Medal, for 1923, are still in existence.

From these documents, we can learn that, up to his enlisting in the army he worked as a piecer at the Equitable Spinning Company in Oldham. He enlisted in Shaw, on the 26th September 1914, claiming to be 19 years of age although still only 18. His qualifications and status were described as General Duties.

He was in France with the B.E.F. from the 26th September 1915 to the 8th January 1919.

On the 29th August 1918 he was awarded the Military Medal for Bravery in the Field. His family believe that he was awarded the medal whilst serving on the Somme (2nd Battle of the Somme), and his daughter stated in a newspaper interview, "During heavy shelling, some of his comrades became trapped under rubble near enemy lines ... despite the gun shots, and without thinking of his own safety, he dug them out with his bare hands. He dragged them out one by one, going back each time until he rescued them all"

He was admitted to hospital after having been gassed in an attack just before the 1918 November armistice. His application for a pension on these grounds was considered but rejected as he was considered not to have been left with a permanent disability.

He was transferred to the Reserve on the 15th March 1919; his home address being recorded as 35 Conduct Street, Oldham. His next of kin was named as his mother, Ellen.

His discharge papers seem to indicate that he enlisted in the regular army and this is borne out by the fact that he again served with the R.A.M.C. as a private, number 7261635, and was awarded the General Service Medal with Bar for 'N.W. Persia', a campaign in 1920.

He served in this capacity until the 18th January 1924. His address at this time, on his medal card, was shown as 50, Rap[p]er Street, Oldham.

In the last quarter of 1922, he had married Ethel L. Tither, in Oldham.

When he left the army he returned to his home town, and to work in the town's mills, again.

Henry and his wife had eight children of which 3 died in infancy and a 4th child was stillborn. His remaining 4 children went on to present Henry and Ellen with several children and then grandchildren before his death age 73.

In an interview for a newspaper his daughter, Mrs. Fleming, recalled, " My father used to talk about the horrific sights he had seen and said there were things he would never forget. The first time he killed a person he was sick afterwards, it had such an effect on him. He was the best father anyone could have had and he is sadly missed. He taught us all good values - a truly wonderful man."

Information and photo contributed by Mrs. Fleming through Martin Fleming

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