The following account was written by Geoff CRAWFORD of Bowral in New South Wales Australia. These men were his ‘Great Uncles’ and their Memorial Plaques (also known as ‘Death Plaques’ and ‘Dead Man’s Penny’ are missing. Do you know where they are? Or can you help in any way? If so, please contact the Medals Gone Missing Administrator.
NORMAN LACHLAN CRESWICK:
Norman was born in 1896 at Lake Cargelligo, NSW. He grew up on the family’s rural property, Goolring Station, near Bourke, though he was sent to Albury, on the NSW/Victoria border, for his basic education.
At the time of the outbreak of the First World War, Norman was the station overseer at Goolring. He enlisted on the 19th January 1916 (Service Number 399), and departed Sydney on active service as a Private in B Company, 36th Battalion, on the 13th May 1916 on board the HMAT A72 Beltana.
The 36th Battalion became part of the 9th Brigade of the 3rd Australian Division. The troop ship bearing Norman CRESWICK and his fellow soldiers arrived at Devonport, UK on the 9th July 1916. After four months’ training, they were transferred to France on the 22nd November 1916, and subsequently moved into the trenches on the Western Front in Belgium for the first time – just in time for the onset of the terrible winter of 1916-17.
The 36th Infantry Battalion though, had to wait until the emphasis of Allied operations switched to the Ypres Sector of Belgium in June 1917 to take part in it’s first major battle. This was the battle of Messines, launched on the 7th June 1917.
It was in this battle that, on the 11th June, that Norman CRESWICK lost his life. He was just 21 years old. Even more sadly for his family, 399 Private Norman Lachlan CRESWICK has no known grave, such was the carnage and mayhem on the Messines battlefield. His name however, is recorded on the Menin Gate at Ypres.
IMAGE RIGHT: The Menin Gate, situated at the entrance to the city of Ypres in Belgium as depicted in the artwork titled “Menin Gate At Midnight”. Painted by reknown artist – Will Longstaff in 1927, this evocative painting depicts the ‘ghost’s of the Allied dead, rising up from the surrounding field for their final parade.
THOMAS SEFTON CRESWICK
Thomas CRESWICK was a younger brother of Corporal Norman Lachlan CRESWICK (see above – Service Number 399, 36th Battalion), having been born in 1898. During 1916, his parents had moved from Goolring to Arthursleigh Station, near Marulan, NSW. After a period of schooling in Victoria, Thomas returned to Arthursleigh, to become station overseer.
With the war in full swing and recruitment requirements seemingly insatiable, Thomas enlisted on the 21st September 1916 (Service Number 2536), and departed Sydney on active service as a Private in B Company, 37th Battalion, on the 9th November 1916, on board the HMAT A24 Benalla.
These troops (the 5th such reinforcement contingent) were disembarked from the vessel on 9th/10th January 1917 at Devonport, UK, and shortly afterwards commenced training. May of 1917 saw the unit joining the rest of the 37th Battalion on the Western Front, as part of the 10th Brigade of the 3rd Australian Division.
The 37th Battalion fought in its first major battle at Messines, Belgium, which began on the 7th June 1917. It was in this fight that Thomas CRESWICK (some time between the 7th and 9th) lost his life, at the young age of 19. It is not known if the brothers met up before the battle began, but – given the different sectors of the front line where they were deployed…. it seems perhaps unlikely. Thomas was killed just a few days before his brother Norman. Like his brother, Thomas CRESWICK has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Menin Gate, at Ypres.
IMAGE LEFT: The Will Longstaff painting titled “Immortal Shrine” which was a follow up to his successful “Menin Gate At Midnight”. This depiction of ghostly soldiers marching past the Cenotaph in London on Remembrance Day, 1928 is a haunting reminder of the countless lives, cut short in their prime – during the Great War.