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Cransford: Remembrance

Today is the 11th of November. It is only right, then, that today’s post lists the names on a War Memorial at Cransford, and attempts to add a little more information about each individual remembered. A similar post for Badingham will arrive at a later date.

Are you connected to any of the men mentioned? I can see from popular online family history sites that there are modern-day descendants, nieces and nephews. Please leave a comment below with additional information, or contact me if you would be willing to share images to illustrate the rest of the information.

Cransford’s First World War Memorial is a white marble tablet inside the church. It reads as follows:

“To the Glory of God and to the grateful memory of our fellow parishioners who fell in the Great War.

John Ronald Buckmaster
Australian Infantry

William Chilvers
Royal Fusiliers

James Fisher Mann
Suffolk Yeomanry

Father in thy gracious keeping
Leave we now thy servants sleeping”

John Ronald Buckmaster was born in Framlingham on 13 September 1894, but by the time of the 1911 census was living at Church Farm in Cransford with his parents and two younger brothers.

In November 1913, aged 19, he set out for Fremantle, Australia; certainly not the only local farmer’s son to seek a future abroad. In fact, his brother Bertie had sailed for Canada only months earlier. By 1916, he was apparently settled in York, Western Australia, 60 miles east of Perth, but his war career had already begun (details from electoral register).

John, known to his family as Ronald, had signed up to the Australian 11th Infantry Battalion on 18 August 1914 – almost immediately following the outbreak of war. At the time his occupation was ‘clearer’ – preparing land for buildings, farmland etc. He embarked for Gallipoli and was later sent to hospital there with influenza. After a spell of a few days, he embarked for England where he was admitted to University College Hospital on 9 September 1915 and afterwards, the 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital at Harefield House.

Ronald recovered and rejoined his unit in Egypt in January 1916. In the first draft of this blog, I wrote that ‘we can hope he was able to see his family while in England’. The Framlingham Weekly News confirms that this was indeed the case: “Ronald Buckmaster, who had to be brought home from the Dardanelles, where he was engaged with the Australian troops, owing to a physical breakdown, has made excellent progress under hospital treatment and is now spending a few days with his parents at Cransford. He now shows little ill effects of his strenuous and trying experiences at the peninsular and from all appearances will ere long be quite fit again.”

A couple of months after he rejoined, his Batallion moved to Marseilles. Sadly, Ronald was reported missing on 25 July 1916 and later recorded Killed In Action at the Battle of Pozieres. He was just 21 years old.

Back home in Cransford, his parents endured the agony of the unknown while waiting to hear about his whereabouts. A note in the Framlingham Weekly News on 12 August that year states that “Mr and Mrs Buckmaster of Cransford continue to feel very anxious regarding their son Ronald, from whom they have not heard for more than a month. It is believed that he was engaged with the Australians in the attack on Pozieres in July.”

He is commemorated on the Australian National Memorial within Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery.

Ronald’s youngest brother Richard was reported to be the youngest of the local territorials and one of the last to receive leave back from the front. His other brother, Herbert Arthur (Bertie, mentioned earlier), was of the 6th Suffolks was wounded at least three times. In August 1915 we know that he spent some time at home before leaving for service abroad. The Framlingham Weekly News stated that “In physique he is a splendid type of British soldier, being little short of 6 ft in height, and correspondingly well-proportioned in girth, and from all appearances he is in possession of abundant stamina and intelligence – acquisitions which will go a long way in repelling the enemy hordes and ultimately carry our beloved flag to victory.” (14 August 1915, P4).

Despite everything, Bertie survived and settled in Australia. Richard (‘Dick’), also came through the war and although he travelled, settled in Suffolk. The brothers also had a sister, Katie, who married into the Carley family who appear elsewhere on this blog.

William Chilvers, of the 3rd Battalion Royal Fusiliers (London Regiment), died on 4 November 1918. He is remembered at Cross Roads Cemetery, Fontaine-au-Bois, a cemetery only begun in the first week of November 1918.

In 1911, the census captured William, aged 30, in a multi-generational household near Cransford Chapel. He was a farm labourer like his father and was born in neighbouring Badingham.

At this stage, I know little about William’s service, but do know that his battalion joined the 149th Brigade in July 1918. The Brigade took part in the Final Advance in Picardy, which ended on 11 November 1918. The 4 November 1918, the day that William died, coincided with the Battle of the Sambre, but more research is yet needed to understand the circumstances of his death. He would have been about 37.

James Fisher Mann died in hospital in Egypt on 23 January 1918. He was a private in the 15th Battalion Suffolk Regiment (and formerly the Suffolk Yeomanry). James was the son of George and Ellen Mann (nee Fisher), who lived at Snow’s Hall, Peasenhall in 1901. The family later moved to West Farm, Cransford, close to Fiddlers Hall where more members of the family lived. Three of the extended Chilvers family lived-in and worked on the farm.

The 15th was formed in Egypt on 5 January 1917 and came under the command of 230th Brigade in 74th (Yeomanry) Division. They were part of the Egypt and Palestine Campaign in 1917 and 1918.

James is buried at Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery, his headstone carrying the personal inscription “youngest beloved son of George and Ellen Mann of Cransford, Suffolk.” He was 25.

Cransford was a close-knit community where everybody knew each other. Even researching these three men alone reveals obvious cross-overs between families and households. A further memorial in the church remembers Lieut-Commander of the HMS Invincible, John Cyril Fitzrobert Borrett, youngest son of Major-General H C Borrett at Cransford Hall. He was killed in action at the Battle of Jutland and will be featured at a later date.

Other men from the village returned, and they too should be remembered, along with the part the rest of the parish played in both World Wars and other conflicts since. This blog will aim to record further stories in the future, along with those from neighbouring Badingham.

We will remember them.

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