Stephen Crump (d. 3rd September 1916)

WWI & II Commemorative Calendar (2018)
WWI & II Commemorative Calendar (2018)

Stephen was one of twelve children (although two died very young) of Solomon and Julia Crump.  Solomon was born in Droitwich, the son of John, a general labourer.  Working for the railways, Solomon moved to Derby where he worked as a pointsman, and then to Southwell, Widmerpool and Hickling, at which time he was working as a signalman.  The family first lived at Lincoln Lodge on Bridegate Lane, then a couple of doors away at Sunny Bank, a house which they had built.

Solomon and Julia’s surviving children were:

  • Frederick JW, born 1892
  • Beatrice Adelaide, born 1894
  • Stephen George Arthur, born 1896
  • Percy Thomas, born about 1898
  • Albert Henry, born 1899
  • Julia Adeline, born 1902
  • Claude Stanley, born 1907
  • Francis Charles, born 1907
  • Wilfred Sidney, born 1911
  • Walter Leslie, born 1921

Stephen was born in Widmerpool but the family moved to Hickling shortly afterwards and he attended the village school.  In August 1906 the Grantham Journal reported that Stephen, Beatrice and Percy, along with seven others, had not missed a day’s school in the past year. When he left school Stephen became a farm labourer, still living at home. 

On 25th November 1915 he joined the 17th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters.  The battalion had been formed in June of that year.  On 6 March 1916 they landed in France and, after finishing his training in England, Stephen joined them on 15 April.  He was involved in an attack on the village of Beaumont-Hamel in the Somme on 3 September 1916 and killed in action aged 20. His grave is at the Ancre British Cemetery at Beaumont-Hamel, grave VI. A. 24

Stephen’s death was reported in the Grantham Journal on 30 September 1916: “We regret to record that another of our brave Hickling lads has fallen in action.  The sad intelligence reached the family of Mr and Mrs Solomon Crump, of Sunny Bank, Hickling Pastures, Notts., from the Infantry Recording Office at Lichfield, that their son, Stephen George Arthur, was killed in action, at a place not stated, on September 3rd.  A message of sympathy from HM King George has also been received.  Pte. Stephen GA Crump, of the Notts and Derby Regiment, was 20 years of age.  Of a cheerful disposition, and ever ready to oblige, he voluntarily responded to his country’s call on November 25th 1915.  He was in training at Nottingham for a short period, and subsequently at Ripon and Harrogate.  From the latter place, he was drafted abroad on April 15th, and took part in the recent heavy fighting.  As a token of respect for an old scholar, the flag at the Council School was flown at half-mast.  The greatest sympathy is expressed for the bereaved family in their great loss.  The eldest son is in the Signalling Corps of the Dorset Regiment.”

The Deanery Magazine of October 1916 also recorded his death: “We must needs add to the list of our brave heroes who have fallen in the war the name of Stephen Crump, killed in action on September 3rd.  Our sincere sympathy goes forth to his parents and his brothers and sisters in their sorrow.  He has given his life in this cause of righteousness and his sacrifice is precious with God.  On joining the army the quiet boy sprang forth into the keen enthusiastic soldier, and in all his zealous fighting for the right, his life has reached its earthly close.  We thank God for his devotion to duty, and commend him to His mercy and redeeming love.”

Solomon and Julia gave instructions for the words “Thy Will be Done” to be included on Stephen’s headstone.

The other members of Stephen’s family

Stephen’s father Solomon retired from the railways in 1934, having worked for the LMS Railway Company for forty three years.  He had joined the Widmerpool South Box on 21 August 1894, just three years into his service, and remained there for the whole of the rest of the time, except from January to June 1900 when he was in the Grenadiers on war service.  As a retirement gift the station staff gave him an armchair, tobacco pouch, two pipes and a tin of tobacco, as well as their wishes for a long life to enjoy the gifts!  In all of his time with the railways he had had only eight days off work sick.  In her book “Maggie’s Memories”, Margaret Wadkin, born in 1908, recalled Solomon’s wife Julia: “a small thin hardworking woman, a wonderful knitter and rugmaker”.  Solomon and Julia lived in Sunny Bank, the house that they had built, until they died, Julia in 1958 aged 86 and Solomon two weeks later aged 89.

Eldest son Frederick (Fred) served in the Signalling Corps of the Dorset Regiment, joining the army in 1914.  In August of 1917 he was home on leave “looking fit and well” but in the November of that year he was wounded, suffering severe bruising in his right leg and left arm, resulting in a stay in hospital in Newcastle.  In 1919 he was demobilised from Austria.  He followed his father and worked for the railways.  In 1939 he was living in Oakham with his wife Beatrice. 

Stephen’s sister Beatrice had a watercolour entered by her school into the annual Syston and District Horticultural and Industrial Society exhibition in 1907 and was awarded a 1s prize for excellent work.  It is believed that she married Thomas J Groom in Basford in 1916.  Margaret Wadkin tells us that she was still alive in 1976.

Percy joined the Foresters in 1917, just eight months after Stephen had been killed.  After the war he joined the railways as a sub-ganger at Widmerpool station and he continued to live in Hickling.  On 14 April 1923 the Grantham Journal reported, “After a very successful and pleasant winter session, the Hickling Institute closed for the summer months last weekend.  The games tournaments were won as follows.  Billiards, Harold Mersen; dominoes, Edward Willett; draughts, Percy Crump”.  On 2 November 1927 he was riding his motorbike between Kinoulton and Hickling when he was thrown off, though he could not explain why it had happened.  He injured his knee, face and body but was believed to be “progressing favourably”.  The following February he returned to work but then caught a cold which turned to bronchial pneumonia.  Recovering from that in April he went to stay with his brother Fred, who was living in Wigston Fields in Leicester.  There he caught another cold which turned to consumption.  He went into Creeton Sanatorium in Northampton, coming out in the November and hoping to restart work in the new year.  He then caught another cold at Christmas and died at the end of January 1929 at Fred’s home, aged 30.  He was buried in the old Wigston Cemetery, members of the Hickling Institute and the ex-Service men sending wreaths. 

Albert joined the army in June 1917 on reaching the age of 18, the fourth of the brothers to enlist.  In September 1917 he and Percy returned home on short leave.  Albert was then sent home from the war on sick leave in December 1918.  He was living at Sunny Bank at the time of his demobilisation in February 1919 and started work as a shoeing smith.  In the 1920s Albert played billiards for the Institute team.  In November 1926, still living at Sunny Bank, he was riding his motorbike, with a blacksmith from Plumtree riding pillion.  He turned out into the Melton road and was hit by a car.  Albert was thrown onto the road and his passenger through the windscreen.  Both were taken to hospital suffering from concussion but, unlike Percy whose accident was a year later, no lasting injuries were sustained.  In 1939, a single man, he was living in Wantage, Berkshire still working as a shoeing smith and agricultural implement repairer.  He died there in early 1968, aged 68.

Julia, known as Addie, took part in entertainments when she was at school, singing duets and acting.  She married Reginald Stapleton in 1926.  The wedding was reported in the Grantham Journal of 16 October: “On Monday week, a wedding of considerable interest was solemnised at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, between Julia Adeline Crump, youngest daughter of Mr and Mrs Solomon Crump, of Sunny Bank, Hickling Pastures, and Reginald George William Stapleton, only son of Mr and Mrs GE Stapleton, of Elsecar, near Barnsley, Yorkshire…  After the wedding feast, at Sunny Bank, Mr and Mrs Stapleton left for their future home at Weldon and Corby, near Kettering.”   In 1939 they were living in Birmingham, Reginald working as a clerk on the LMS railway.  Addie died in 1976 aged 73.

Claude became a dairy farmer.  In 1939 he was living at Correlea, near to Sunny Bank on Bridegate Lane, with his wife Edna May (nee Munton), whom he had married the previous year.  He was no longer alive in 1976.

Francis followed his father and worked for the railways.  In 1939 he was living at Sunny Bank with his parents and working as a railway porter, though he was also trained as a shunter.  By this time his father was retired.  Francis was no longer alive in 1976.

Wilfred also performed in school entertainments and seems to have been a musical person.  On 22 December 1923 the Grantham Journal reported on a concert in the school which included the operetta “The Isle of Pearl” in which Wilfred played one of the starfish (attendants on the White Queen, they helpfully explain). The article also tells us that he was awarded a handwork prize. The same newspaper reported on 25 November 1933 on a meeting of the Wesley Guild at which Wilfred played a violin solo.  In 1933 he married Sybil Warren.  In 1939 the couple  were living a couple of doors from Claude at the former family home, Lincoln Lodge, Wilfred earning his living as a dairy farmer.  There were no children with them in the household.  Wilfred was still alive in 1976.

Some surprise may be felt about the Crumps having a child in 1921, Julia being almost fifty then.  She was, however, registered as the mother when Walter Leslie (known as Leslie) was born.  In May 1926, when he was just five, Leslie was the first of his family to have a motorbike accident.  One of his brothers was taking him to the May Day Pageant at the school when he fell off and broke his right leg, necessitating a stay in Nottingham Hospital.  He seems to have been a good student, because he won a prize for his performance in the exams in both 1928 and 1929.  Leslie was living with Solomon and Julia in 1939, his occupation being making parts of telephones at Griessons in Beeston.  He was still alive in 1976 and working as an electrician.

Since Stephen had started his working life as a farm labourer it seems quite likely that he, like two of his brothers, would have become a farmer.