19-year-old Christopher Henry Cranmer died of wounds in Salonika on 19th August 1916 whilst serving as a Corporal with the 7th Battalion Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry. On the same day, Lance Corporal Arthur Busby died of wounds in France whilst serving with the 1st/5th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
Christopher Henry Cranmer – known as Harry – was born in Lapworth, Warwickshire on 24th August 1896 and died less than a week before his 20th birthday. He was the sixth son and the ninth of ten children (seven sons, three daughters) born to parents, William and Jane (née Morgan), who farmed at Drawbridge Farm, Lapworth. His younger brother, Oliver, also lost his life in the war aged 20, dying of wounds in France in 1918, less than a month before the war ended.
Two of the five other brothers are also known to have served in the war: eldest son Frank (1884-1964), a farm bailiff, enlisted on 7th September 1914 and served as a Lance Corporal (later Acting Corporal) in the Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry until he was demobbed in 1919; Herbert (1895-1975), known as Bert, was a Private in the Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry and a Corporal with the Labour Corps, first serving overseas in September 1915.
Christopher Henry Cranmer died of wounds in Salonika on 18th August 1916 and is buried at Karasouli Military Cemetery, Greece. He is also commemorated locally on war memorials at Hampton-in-Arden, Hockley Heath and Lapworth. His father, William, died in 1943 and his mother, Jane, in 1945. They are buried in Lapworth churchyard and their grave includes the names of their two youngest sons, Christopher Henry and Oliver, who died in the war. In 1939, twenty-one years after Oliver’s death, they also published a classified announcement in the local paper:
Birmingham Daily Post 23 October 1939
ROLL OF HONOUR
CRANMER – in ever loving memory of Oliver, died from wounds in France, October 21 1918 ; also Harry, died in Salonika, August 20.
Arthur Busby was born in Aston, Birmingham in 1884 and was the fifth child and second son of the ten children (four sons, six daughters) known to have been born to parents Thomas, a gun engraver, and Alice Annie Maria (née Perkins) who had married in Aston in 1877. There appear to have been two other children who died in infancy.
Arthur’s connection with the Solihull area is that between June 1897 and August 1898 he was an inmate in Marston Green Cottage Homes whilst his mother was in the infirmary. By 1901, the family was back together in Upper Webster Street, Aston, and Arthur was working as a machinist at a rubber works.
He had also enlisted in the militia in January 1901, and then joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment as a regular soldier in 1902. His Army service record shows that he didn’t see any active service and was transferred to the Army reserves in 1905, leaving him free to return his work as a brass turner. Prior to enlistment he was employed by gunmakers Webley and Scott, Slaney Street, Birmingham, which made revolvers and automatic pistols.
Arthur married Amelia Froggatt at St Mary’s Church, Aston Brook in October 1906 and the couple’s daughter, Gladys, was born on 15th July 1907. A second child, Arthur, was born on 16th May 1913. Gladys never married and died in Birmingham in 1975. Her brother, Arthur, died in Birmingham in 1998. Their mother, Amelia, never remarried and died, aged 60, in 1947.
Arthur (senior) rejoined the Army on the outbreak of war, his original service of 12 years having expired on 22nd July 1914. His two younger brothers, Harold and Alfred, also enlisted. Harold joined the Royal Field Artillery on 24th August 1914 and served as a Driver until the end of the war.
Arthur died of wounds on 18th August 1916, and is buried in France at the Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension. He is also commemorated locally on the war memorial at the former Marston Green Cottage Homes.
If you have any further information about either of these men, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
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