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John was baptised on the 29th January 1893 at St. Michael`s Church in Kirkham, his parents Thomas and Sarah Crane (nee Quinn) married in the same church on the 1st July 1892. John was the eldest of ten children born to his parents, the others being; Mary (1894-1900), Edith (1895), Alfred (1897-1899), Thomas (1899), Annie (1901), Walter (1903), Wilfred (1906), Richard (1909) and Emily (1914).

Thomas Crane was a housepainter and after he married Sarah they set up home at 4 Billington Street in Wesham which is where they remained for a number of years. In 1911, still at the same address in Wesham, John and his eldest sister Edith were both working as cotton weavers in one of the local mills and the younger siblings were all attending school.

On the 8th October 1914 at the age of 21 years and 10 months John signed up for four years’ service with the 4th (Reserve) Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, he was allocated the number 2829. His medical inspection report notes that he was 5`4” tall and had a 34 inch chest, he was unmarried and had no previous military experience. Prior to his enlistment he had been working as a weaver and was still living with his parents in Billington Street in Wesham.

John sailed to France with the 1/4th Battalion on the 4th May 1915. On the 10th June 1915 he was admitted to a field ambulance with a shrapnel wound to his left hand. His injury kept him out of action until the 24th June 1915 which meant that he wasn`t with the Battalion in their first major action at Festubert on the 15th June.

In March 1916 he spent another week out of action, this time suffering with a septic foot. John must have impressed his superiors because on the 2nd September 1916 he was appointed Lance Corporal (paid).

On the 9th September 1916 just seven days after his promotion to Lance Corporal he was reported wounded and missing in action. His mother, anxious for news of her son placed the following article in the Preston Guardian.

Battalion History: At 16:45hrs on the 9th September 1916 the 1/4th Battalion was part of an attack launched by XIV Corps 164th Bde (including B and C Companies of 1/4th LNL) were to attack and take a line of trenches that ran between Ginchy and Delville Wood. The plan was “to go over the top” and take Hop Alley and then Ale Alley. Hop Alley was taken but Ale Alley wasn`t reached due to the intensity of the enemy machine-gun fire. The attackers fell back to their original line.

The casualties were heavy; 24 men killed including Second Lieutenants W. E. Pyke and E.F. Falby. There were also 125 men wounded, and a further 79 men missing, many were also later identified as having being killed.

John was still recorded as missing in 1917 and so he was allocated his new style TF number of 200762. It wasn`t until the 14th August 1917 that for official purposes it was finally confirmed that he had died on the 9th September 1916.

After the war John`s mother Sarah took receipt of her son`s 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals.

John Crane has no known grave and so his name is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing on the Somme. His name is also recorded on the War Memorial that stands in the centre of Wesham where he and his family lived.

Janet Davis
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