Photograph with kind permission from the Uttoxeter Advertiser






Uttoxeter Advertiser



Mr. & Mrs. Crutchley



7f, 7h


Where born






When born

About 1893 or 1894






Smithfield Road (parents)



7e, 7f


Parents: 4 Chapel Garden, Uttoxeter, Staffordshire

















Employment Before Joining up

Painter at the Leighton Ironworks





Leighton Ironworks, Uttoxeter





Where enlisted







North Staffordshire (Prince of Wales’s)




1, 6


1/6th Bn.





1/6th (T.F.) Bn





6th Bn





‘B’ Company









7e, 7f, 7g, 7h

1, 6

Service Number






Date of Death

26 September 1916



7g, 7h


Age at time of death











Where Killed or died

France/Flanders - Ransart










How he died

Killed in action





Died of wounds





Died of wounds – wound in the stomach





Location of Grave or Memorial

De Cusine Ravine British Cemetery – Grave C.6.





Uttoxeter Town War Memorial













William was, with John, one of two brothers7c, 7e, 7f who joined up together, served together and died together on the same day. The news must have been devastating for their parents. They were (and still are) buried side-by-side in the same grave7f.

Unfortunately, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission did not get their names right, and they appear on their database as Critchley. Presumably, their headstones also carry the wrong name?

As was the case with his brother, Bill Crutchley was a well-known local footballer7c, 7f before the war. He was a member of the old Town Football Club.

Both brothers were employed as painters at the Leighton Ironworks in Uttoxeter7f.

Some of the original buildings of the Leighton Ironworks. These will have been familiar to the Crutchley brothers.

They were also both among the first group of men to march out of the town in August 1914, immediately after the outbreak of war6. They are therefore counted amongst the special ranks of men known as the “Old Contemptibles.

Alongside his brother, he took part in the great charge on the Hohenzollern Redoubt on 13th October 1915, when they were both wounded1, 7f..

At the end of October the Uttoxeter Advertiser7b published extracts from a letter from Private Yates from the battlefield. This mentioned the Crutchley brothers:

I am a native of the Potteries, and got mixed up with several lads from Uttoxeter who were wounded after the great charge they made. I noticed one or two footballers who used to play for the Territorials Football Club. I saw poor Stubbs, J. Ince, Dan Hayes, Clem and Jack Crutchley (brothers), W. Holmes, Sergt. Hodson, Sergt. Shirley, Sergt. Kelly, Bert Richardson (who got killed), and a referee I know well by sight – I think his name is Price. He had got his hand bandaged up, and was helping a wounded comrade, as cheerful as could be.

Sergt. Kenny and Sergt. Henshall also were wounded. There was a goalkeeper named Bloor (I think his father was a store-dealer). Poor old Uttoxeter lads – they did the charge well, and paid the penalty. I have lost all my comrades from Goldenhill . . . I picked up the ‘Uttoxeter Advertiser’ on the field of battle, and I thought you would like to know.”

They both had a period of convalescence in England and when they had recovered from their wounds they returned to the front7f.

The following summer, in July 1916, John wrote home saying that he and William had been in the fighting in the early part of the push in the battle of the Somme'. He reported that they were quite alright, but had had an ‘exciting time’. This was something of an understatement, as he was referring to the attack on Gommecourt Wood, in which Uttoxeter lost a lot of men when they charged into machine-gun fire. It was a diversionary attack which, by its nature, was designed to draw fire and the results were horrific.

William also he wrote a letter to their mother, part of which was quoted in the Uttoxeter Advertiser7e:

We had to stop in a shell-hole till it was dark and we could get back to our trenches. We were right against their wire, but we didn't know it. We were in the shell-hole for 15 hours before we could get back.

Almost three months later the two brothers were killed. John was killed outright by a machine-gun bullet through the heart7f, whilst William received a fatal wound from a machine-gun bullet in the stomach7f.

His chaplain wrote to his parents, telling them that he was in much pain, which he bore with heroic patience.

According to Uttoxeter Advertiser Roll of honour they were killed in action at Ransart.

News of their deaths was brought to their parents by Private Harrison, a local lad who was on short leave from the front7f. Until they received official confirmation, Mr. And Mrs. Crutchley had the very human reaction of hoping against hope that it was not true, but in due course they received letters from their Commanding Officer and Chaplain7f. These told them that the two brothers had both fallen in a night raid on the enemy trenches7f.

Chaplain G.A. Studdert Kennedy wrote the following letter (dated 28th September 1916) to their father. It was quoted in the Uttoxeter Advertiser7f:

I am sorry to give you the bad news that both your sons, J. and W. Crutchley, were killed in a raid on the night of September 26. It will, I am afraid, be a sad blow to you. I was up in the trenches with them on the night they were killed and had a short service at which both your boys attended just before they went out. They died gallantly in doing particularly difficult and dangerous work, and you are to be congratulated on being the father of two such splendid men. One, J. Crutchley, was killed at once, out in ‘No Man’s Land’, being shot by a machine gun straight through the heart; the other, William, I helped to carry out of the trenches to the dressing-station. Poor lad, he was wounded in the stomach, and was in much pain, which he bore with heroic patience. He died after I left him.

I buried them side-by-side in one grave yesterday afternoon. The grave is in a pretty little cemetery just behind the line, and the graves are carefully looked after. Their comrades all attended the funeral, and on all sides you could hear and see the grief they felt at the loss of two fine men and good comrades.

It would be impertinence on my part to attempt to console you for such a loss. The knowledge that your two sons did a man’s work out here, and died a true man’s death, and that their spirits are with God, will be your chief comfort.

I pass their grave every day as I ride up to the trenches, and if you would like to send out some small token of remembrance to put on it I would gladly fix it there for you. I am applying to the Graves Registration Commission to send you a photograph of the grave as soon as possible. I wish there were more I could do.

Your son William called out for me while I was in the dressing-station, and I sat with him for some time and it seemed to comfort him. He and all his comrades were great friends of mine, and I feel that I have lost a good pal and am sorry. Please let me know if there is anything further I can do. God bless you.”

We do not know whether or not their parents took him up on his offer by sending a token of remembrance for their grave, but we suspect that they will have done. As can be seen from the memorial notices that they placed in the Uttoxeter Advertiser (see later), acts of remembrance were important to them.

The Commanding Officer also sent a letter of sympathy, part of which was quoted in the Uttoxeter Advertiser7f:

In it he said that they had lost their lives “while engaged in one of those gallant enterprises which are continually happening on the British Front. Your two sons belonged to a chosen body of men – composed of the best and bravest soldiers in the battalion – to which it is considered an honour to belong....Please accept my most sincere sympathy for the loss of your two gallant sons, whose job it was to take risks above the ordinary, and who went to their death cheerfully and willingly. They were good soldiers.”

Private A. Merrick also wrote a letter to express the sympathy of their comrades, and an extract was published in the Uttoxeter Advertiser7f. We do not know for sure whether or not this was the Private Alfred Merrick who later fell in the Spring Offensives of 1917, but we believe that it was:

All the boys send their deepest sympathy and regret your loss, for Jack and Bill were well liked wherever they went, and I am sure they will not only be missed by you, but by all who know them”.

William and John are buried in adjacent graves (C6 and C7) in the tiny De Cusine Ravine British Cemetery at Basseux.


As one would expect after such a devastating loss for their parents, they mourned for William and John for a long time. Their grief is very evident from the heartrending memorial notices that they posted in the Uttoxeter Advertiser to mark the anniversaries of their deaths:


This marked the first anniversary of their death7g.

CRUTCHLEY. – In Loving Memory of Pte. W.H. Crutchley, of the North Staffords, who was killed in action on September 26, 1916, aged 22; and also his brother, Pte. J. C. Crutchley, who died of wounds on September 26, 1916, aged 20 (sons of Mr. And Mrs. F. Crutchley, 4, Chapel-gardens, Uttoxeter).

Sleep on dear sons and take your rest,

For God takes those He loves the best.

On earth there’s strife, in heaven there’s rest –

Those miss them most who loved them best.

I mourn for you, dear sons,

No eyes can see me weep,

But many a silent tear I shed

While others are asleep.

From their sorrowing Mother, Father, Brother and Sisters.



This marked the first anniversary of their death7g.

CRUTCHLEY. – In Ever Loving Memory of Pte. W.H. Crutchley, also his brother, Pte. J. C. Crutchley, the beloved sons of Mr. And Mrs. Crutchley, 4, Chapel-gardens, Uttoxeter, who were killed in action on September 26, 1916.

Do not grieve, my dearest parents,

When your sons are no more:

God will bless you for your kindness

When we meet on Canaan’s shore.

Farewell mother, dearest mother,

We only go a while before;

Farewell father, sisters and brother

Till we meet to part no more.

Dry your eyes my weeping mother,

See the crowns your sons have won;

Try to say, amid your sorrow,

“God knows best, Thy will be done.”

Fondly remembered by Father, Mother, Sisters and Brother Frank.