The Crocker family
I am Albert Ernest Crocker. I was born down at Paul near Penzance although my family roots were around Feock parish. Father, Samuel was born in Feock parish in 1866 and mother, Catherine Jane, formerly Williams, was also born here. My younger brother, Richard Henry, known as Harry, was also born in Paul but we came back to live at Penpol before my other siblings were born. They were Samuel, Edward, Gordon, Eva and Reginald.
Father worked as a farm hand.
When the war came, Harry and me both joined up. I was in the 7th Battalion DCLI and we went to France in the middle of 1915. We saw a lot of action but somehow I managed to survive it all right up to near the end of the war.
In March 1918, the Germans began their Spring Offensive, a last ditch attempt to break through the Allied lines and advance through France. They made a lot of progress in a very short time, pushing us back across the old battlefields of the Somme. Parts of our lines were in full retreat and we thought for a while the game was up.
We were fighting just a couple of miles north of the town of Albert and on 2nd April, I was lost in action. My body was never recovered and my name is etched along with over 14,000 others who have no known grave on the Poziers Memorial to the Missing.
My younger brother, Harry was luckier than me. He survived the war and came home to Cornwall where he got married and I believe moved to Redruth and had a coal merchant business.
I had two cousins also killed in the war, George Francis Crocker and Richard Stephens.
George Francis Crocker joined the Merchant Navy. Before the war he lived down near Trelissick and worked with his father, also George as a gardener. I am not sure if they were gardeners at the big house at Trelissick, but they might have been. On 2nd October 1915, he was sailing back from Cyprus to Leith in Scotland but they were spotted by a German submarine, U-39 and sunk by shelling from the U-boat. Most of the crew survived but sadly George was one of two men aboard who were killed. Like me, he has no known grave and lies somewhere beneath the Mediterranean Sea a few miles north of the island of Crete.
The sad thing is that they weren’t involved in carrying supplies for the war as far as I know. They were carrying a cargo of Locust Beans, but I don’t suppose that made any difference to the submarine captain, he just saw them as an enemy ship.
My other cousin, Richard Stephens survived the war but died in February 1919 as a result of war related injuries.
He lived at Point with his wife, Ottilia, always known as Tilly. Richard was the son of James and Eliza who lived over at Trolver Croft for many years, he followed his father in a maritime career. He married Ottilia Siebert in 1897 and they lived at Point. She was from Stepney in London originally where her father worked as a Tailor before coming to Cornwall. Her grandfather and many more like him were German Jews who came to London in the middle of the 19th century because of religious persecution.
Richard had a long naval career and rose to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. When he died in 1919 he was serving with HMS Terrible.
His name is not with the other Great War victims on the Devoran War Memorial. It is around the back, on the panel with the World War Two casualties. Some say this is because he died after the war and after the names of the others had already been put on the memorial, but others think that he is separate because his wife’s family had German origins.
We may never know the real reason.
His widow Ottilia lived on at Glenavon, Point with her son, John and daughter in law, Margaret until she died in 1950.
Written by Bob Richards for the 1st July 2016 centenary talk at Devoran Village Hall.
Read more about these men at