William Crack

25568 Sergeant William Cuthbert Crack, 1st Royal Montreal Regiment

Born 11th February 1888 in Aldershot
Died 10th June 1951 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Family and Home 1, 2, 3, 4

William Cuthbert Crack was born in Aldershot, Hampshire, the eldest son of Frederick Edward Crack and Eliza Catherine née Cuthbert.

William had two younger brothers: Frederick Arthur, born on 4th August 1891 and Cecil Edward George, born on 29th December 1901.

In the 1891 Census, William’s family lived at 7 Swiss Cottages, Elms Road, Aldershot, where his father was a Sergeant in the Royal Engineers.

However, William’s family moved to Little Gaddesden in July 1899 after his father left the Royal Engineers and became Farm Bailiff on the Ashridge Estate. Their address was then 50 Little Gaddesden.

Education 5

William attended No. 5 Government School, Aldershot and was in Standard 5 when he moved to Little Gaddesden aged 11. On 4th July 1899 he started in Standard 5 at Little Gaddesden School.

In January 1901, he distinguished himself in the Religious Knowledge Examination during the annual Diocesan Inspection. Then, on September 20th that year, he left from Standard 7 to go to Berkhamsted Grammar School.

Employment 3

In the 1911 Census, William was a 23 year old Bank Clerk. He then lived at 184 Iffley Road, Oxford where he was boarding in the household of David and Annie Jarvis.

Emigrating to Canada 6

However, William left England for Canada in 1913; his Canadian Military Personnel Record shows that he worked for the Royal Bank of Montreal.

Military Service – a Canadian Volunteer 7

Private W.C. Crack is named among the members of the 1st Regiment Canadian Grenadier Guards serving with the 14th Overseas Battalion (the 1st Royal Montreal Regiment). He attested at Valcartier on 21st September 1914 and left for Europe at the start of October, in the first contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Then, after four months in England, he went to France in February 1915 and served on the Western Front until wounded on 3rd June 1916.

Wounded in Action at Ypres 6

On 3rd June 1916, William received gunshot/ shrapnel wounds to his right shoulder and right leg during an attack at Ypres. His Canadian Military Personnel Record contains many pages of information, some of which are hard to read. The dates are not always consistent but it is clear that his shoulder wound was serious, as it required nine months of hospital and convalescent treatment. Initial treatment took place in No 2 Canadian Stationary Hospital, Outreau, Boulogne.

Then, from 10th June 1916 to 15th February 1917 William’s wound was treated in the UK. A report from Bushey Park Hospital of 13th September 1916 informs us:

Rt inner leg lower third no bone involvement & Rt shoulder through outer border & underneath scapula… (at Boulogne) Operation genl. anaesthetic, shrapnel removed from leg, a tube inserted Rt. shoulder underneath scapula….

The report adds:

“Xray findings (26th June, 1st Scottish Genl, Aberdeen) dead bone in shoulder & comminuted frac. R Scapula, dead bone has not been removed… local wound in shoulder still discharging.

Recommended for Discharge 6

Further treatment of William’s shoulder removed shrapnel and dead bone and the wound healed. However, he was left with pain, weakness and slight limitation of movement in his right arm and shoulder. Therefore, on November 18th 1916, the Medical Board recommended his discharge.

Service in England 6

However, in January 1917 an entry in his personnel record reads “Good Clerk for Pay Office” and by February: “Would be fit for Bi or Ciii as Pay Office Clerk as he was Bank Clerk.” Following that assessment, from 23rd February 1917, William served in the UK at the Canadian Discharge Depot in Buxton, Derbyshire and with the Canadian Army Pay Corps.

Permission to Marry 6, 8

William’s Military Personnel Record notes that, on 11th April 1917, he was “Granted permission to marry without expense to the Public“. Therefore three days later, on 14th April 1917, the wedding took place at St John the Baptist’s Church, Buxton. 28 year old William, a Canadian Soldier was living at the Empire Hotel, C.D.D, Buxton. His bride was Andrina Isabel Victoria Forbes, 21, a Spinster of 26 Bridge Street, Buxton and daughter of William Samuel Forbes, Electrical Engineer.

The following year, on 29th June 1918, William was promoted to Acting Sergeant in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, Canadian Army Pay Corps. He served the remainder of his time in that unit and was promoted to Sergeant on 9th September 1919.

Birth of a Son 1

William and Andrina’s first son Frederick John Crack was born in Derbyshire in 1919 (3rd Quarter)

Return to Canada 6

Shortly after that, on 17th October 1919, William embarked from Liverpool to return to Canada aboard R.M.S. Melita. He disembarked at Quebec on 24th October. Two days later he was struck off the strength at the Quebec Depot, Clearing Services Command, “Medically unfit for General Service.”

Men who have answered their country’s call in defence of a “Scrap of Paper” 9

William Crack, is named on the Roll of Honour, which hangs in St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden and lists 119 men from Little Gaddesden, Ringshall and Hudnall who served in the 1914 – 1918 War. On the original Roll his unit is abbreviated to “1st Royal Montreal”; on the Centenary Revision of the Roll this has been recorded more formally as “1st Royal Montreal Regt.” Although William spent the rest of his life in Canada, his parents and his brother Cecil remained in Little Gaddesden; his father died there in 1919 and his mother in 1920.

Rolls of Honour photos: Jane Dickson, Michael Carver

Post-War Life in Canada 6, 10

On their return to Canada, William’s family lived at 59 Old Orchard Avenue, Montreal. Their second son, Ian Cecil Crack was born in 1928.

Canada Voters’ Lists show William and Andrina had moved to Vancouver, British Columbia by 1935, when they lived at 3486 30th Avenue W, Vancouver South. In 1949 their address was 3879 Dunbar Street, Vancouver.

Death 11

63 year old William died in Vancouver, British Columbia on 10th June 1951. He is buried in Mountain View Cemetery, Fraser Street, Vancouver and his grave stone bears the following inscription:

10 JUNE 1951 AGE 63


1. https://www.findmypast.co.uk England & Wales births 1837-2006 Transcriptions

2. https://www.ancestry.co.uk The 1939 Register

3. https://www.findmypast.co.uk 1891 – 1911 England, Wales & Scotland Census Transcriptions

4. https://www.findmypast.co.uk British Army Service Records 1760-1915 Frederick Edward Crack

5. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1887 – 1906

6. Canadian Govt. First World War Military Personnel Record https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/military-heritage/first-world-war/personnel-records/Pages/item.aspx?IdNumber=122994https://www.findmypast.co.uk

7. https://www.british-immigrants-in-montreal.com/grenadier_guards.html  

8. https://www.ancestry.co.uk Derbyshire, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1932

9. https://www.findmypast.co.uk Electoral Registers 1832 – 1932

10. https://www.ancestry.co.uk Canada Voters’ Lists 1935, 1949, 1953

11. https://covapp.vancouver.ca/BurialIndex/ CRACK, William Cuthbert, June 1951

Do you have any questions about the information recorded here? Or do you have any further information that you can share with us about those from Little Gaddesden who died or fought for their country? In either case, please contact Jane Dickson at war-remembrance@littlegaddesdenchurch.org.uk.

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Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson