Crofts, Harold



1896 - 1916
Rank Private
Service no.12807
DiedJuly 15, 1916



Harold was born in 1896 in Leicester to Thomas Crofts, a foreman in the boot and shoe factory, and Sarah Ann ( nee Salmon ). He was one of four children –
Harold’s photograph is in
Leicester Daily Post 26.8.1916 Pg 1.
Leicester Mercury 26.8.1916 Pg 6.
Illustrated Chronicle 2.9.1916 Pg 12.

In the 1901 census the family lived at 66 Cork St. Leicester and in the
1911 census they were at the same address but there is no mention of Thomas and Sarah is not listed as a widow. Harold was a boot maker before he joined the army.
He became Private 12807 8th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment and was killed in action on 15.7.1916. He is on the Thiepval Memorial,
Somme, France (Pier and Face 2C and 3A).

The War Diary for 14th & 15th July 1916.
14th July 1916 at 3.00 am. Dispositions as follows, Battalion HQ. Same place as above, D Company in 2 lines of 2 platoons with its right on the railway 200 yards in front of north edge of wood. C Company moved up to the north edge, B Company supporting 7th LEICESTERSHIRE REGIMENT lying in the north east corner of the wood, A Company supported the 6th LEICESTERSHIRE REGIMENT lying out in the open on the eastern side of the wood. Battalion raiders and D Company bombers were lying out in front of D Company 1st wave.
During our intense bombardment from 3.00 am., enemy subjected the north edge of the wood and the wood itself to very heavy bombardment and machine gun fire. 3.25 am. D Company advanced preceded by the raiders and bombers to their objective which was about 100 yards of VIILA TRENCH to the left of the railway LEFT TRENCH and ASTON TRENCH. During intense bombardment they crept up as close as possible. In the actual attack this Company suffered considerably from hostile machine gun fire, not a single officer reaching VILLA TRENCH. The Company was led by its N.C.Os. Very little opposition was encountered once VILLA TRENCH was reached, dug outs were immediately bombed and the Lewis guns which followed up closely took up a position in VILLA TRENCH and caused a considerable number of casualties amongst the retreating army. Although the majority of the raiders had been knocked out, the remainder did excellent workin bombing towards the left flank and blocking VILLA and ASTON TRENCHES. D Company consolidated these trenches as quickly as possible. At 4.25 am C Company and 1st waves of A and B Companies advanced over the 450 yards of no mans land and arrived at BAZENTIN LE PETIT WOOD, C Company going up the west side of the wood as far as FOREST TRENCH support, eventually advancing with r11 LEICESTERSHIRE REGIMENT as far as the north edge of the wood on the way bombing two enemy dug outs in the wood.This Companies final position was from ASTON TRENCH to within about 100 yards of north west corner of wood. B Company and A Company on arrival at the wood pushed forward in support of r11 and 6th LEICESTERSHIRE REGIMENT the whole three advancing to the north edge of the wood and BAZENTIN LE PETIT village. The enemy put up a strong resistance in FOREST TRENCH but withdrew to the outskirts of the village and the extreme north east corner of the wood, the time was about 8.00am. During the advance over no mans land a number of casualties received due to enemy machine gun situated in the middle of the wood on platforms up large trees. About 5.00am Commanding Officer and Adjutant came over to south west corner of wood where Battalion HQ was established. 5.25am last wave of A and B Companies came over and passed right through the wood to the north edge.
5.00am enemy counter attacked up ASTON and VILLA TRENCHES with bombs and rifle grenades. C Company under 2nd Lt.
ALEXANDER formed bombing parties and drove them back, the latter and the Colonel losing their lives about this time. The left flank was continually rifle grenaded till about 2.30pm. 10.00am enemy counter attacked the north edge of the wood but were repulsed by rifle and Lewis gun fire after 3 hours of fighting. About this time 50 men were sent up from FOREST TRENCH where they were consolidating to support C Company’s right.Every effort was now made to consolidate positions gained. From 3.00 to 4.15pm enemy bombarded BAZENTIN LE PETIT WOOD and no mans land very heavily, using tear shells, when the 1st EAST YORKSIDRE REGIMENT came up with reinforcements. Night of 14th/15th north edge of wood was much troubled by a party of enemy entrenched outside, who caused several casualties with rifle grenades and sniping. This party was eventually driven out by stokes gunon night of 16th/17th instant. 15th July 1916 at 6.00amBattalion had orders to withdraw to a spot in rear of MAMETZ WOOD together with the 7th and 9th LEICESTERSHIRE REGIMENTS . On its arrival it was ordered to resume its position in BAZENTIN LE PETIT WOOD as soon as possible, which it did.
Nothing of importance happened after this till the Battalion was relieved except continual sniping from the enemy.Rations and water and small arms ammunition came up each evening and were successfully distributed except in the case of an isolated party of B Company in BAZENTIN village on evening of 14th•