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Born: 1895, Manningham
Address: Blakehill Cottage, Bradford Road, Idle
Parents: Albert & Annie Jane
Siblings: Norman, Harry, Winifred George, Frederick, May
Occupation: Mgr Haycliffe Rubber Coy
Rank: Lieut
Medals/awards: DCM, MC
Rolls of Honour:
Regiment: Bradford Pals
Ernest Crowther
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When Ernest Crowther signed up to fight for King and Country, his abilities as a soldier were quickly recognised and he rose quickly through the ranks in a remarkable career. Within a short time of him enlisting, the Shipley Times & Express published this story on 26 March 1915. ‘Mr Ernest Crowther, second son of Mr A C Crowther of Blakehill Cottages, Idle, who a short time ago joined the Green Howards, has been promoted to the rank of full corporal. At present his regiment is stationed at Folkestone. ‘Cpl Crowther’s brother, Harry, who used to be a worker at the Parish Church Sunday School, is in the 2nd West Riding Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery, now stationed at Bawtry, near Doncaster.’ On 19 November 1915, the local paper carried a story of Ernest’s bravery in dangerous situations: ‘Mr and Mrs Crowther of Blakehill Cottage, Idle, have two sons at the front – L Sgt Ernest Crowther and Gunner Harry Crowther. ‘Before the outbreak of the war, the former was the manager of the Haycliffe Rubber Company, Bradford. ‘He joined the Green Howards and was early recognised as a very promising recruit. By dint of really hard work he soon won promotion. In the thick of the fray ‘For about three months he has been at the front and on many occasions has been in the thick of the fray. ‘Recently while on patrol at midnight, he got within a few yards of the German trenches and could hear every word they said. ‘He must have been heard by the Huns for they began firing on the very place where he was lying. He was not hit, however, but the bullets passed very close to him
and as he himself says, he had a very narrow shave. ‘When firing ceased, he heard one German shout “There are some currants for your Christmas pudding.” ‘He would have liked to reply but feared that if he did it might be a serious matter for him. He regarded discretion as a better part of valour and wisely lay perfectly still until the time came for making good his escape. ‘His brother, Gunner Harry Crowther, of the Royal Field Artillery, has been in France since April and he has seen a good deal of fighting.’ Gallantry Ernest was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for gallantry as a result of that action and in a letter to his parents, published on 28 January 1916, Sgt Close of Eccleshill wrote: ‘I must congratulate you upon having such a fine son as Ernest. He is the pride of his comrades and officers but so modest. ‘On the night of 29th December and early the following morning he went out and gained valuable information regarding the enemy’s ground and wires and again on the night of December 21st and early January 1st he took out a party to secure information and again rendered valuable services.’ Ernest’s courage was also recognised closer to home and on 29 December 1916, there was a report of him visiting the Sunday School he used to attend. By this time he had been promoted to Lieutenant: ‘A large gathering of teachers and scholars assembled at the Parish
Church Sunday School on Sunday afternoon to do honour to Lieutenant Ernest Crowther of Blakehill Cottage, Idle, who recently won the D.C.M. for conspicuous bravery. ‘On entering the school the gallant soldier was received with great enthusiasm. ‘Mr Herbert Smith, vicar’s warden, presented to the hero a solid silver cigarette case which was suitably inscribed as a mark of esteem from the teachers and scholars of the school. ‘Mr Smith said he was proud to be able to take part in those proceedings and on behalf of the donors he wished the recipient even greater distinction in the future. ‘Mr F C Sewell, people’s warden, remarked that as the lieutenant was an old scholar both of the day and the Sunday School, his name would always remind them of what could be attained by doing one’s duty. Silver cigarette case ‘The lieutenant had joined the army as a private and had gained his recent rank by sheer merit. It was an honour to the school to have his name on the Honour’s Board and Mr Sewell was convinced that their friend would bring still further honour both to himself and the school. ‘In responding, Lieut Crowther very modestly said he had not deserved all the kind things that had been said about him but he would be pleased to accept the cigarette case which would remind him of the kind friends he had in connection with the Sunday School.’ Another award was reported on 27 April 1917: ‘Lieut Ernest Crowther, son of Mr
Albert Crowther, of Blakehill Cottage, Springfield, Idle, proprietor of the Northern Flexible Metallic Tubing Co, Bradford, has been awarded the Military Cross for distinguished service in the field. ‘Though but 22 years of age, Lieut Crowther has had a unique record of service. He joined the Green Howards as a private in September 1914 and won the DCM in January 1916. ‘He was granted a commission with the 1st Bradford Pals in June last year and was promoted to the rank of first-lieutenant in December last. ‘He was educated at Belle Vue Secondary School.’ Reported missing But a month later Ernest’s family received a letter from Lieut-Col A C Croydon that everyone who had sons at war dreaded: ‘I very much regret having to inform you that your son, Lieut E Crowther, of this unit, is reported missing. ‘He took part with the regiment in an action on the 3rd May and when last seen was gallantly attacking an enemy strong point with a number of his men. ‘I should like to inform you that your son was one of my best officers, always keen, energetic and fearless in his work, and was one of the true type of British officer. ‘I sincerely hope that he is a prisoner in the hands of the enemy as he was believed to have been wounded, and that he will return safely to you at the end of hostilities.; Ernest’s captivity in Germany was confirmed in June of 1917 and sadly we have no more reports of him in the local paper but as his name doesn’t appear on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission list of the dead, we can presume that he did indeed return home at the end of the war.
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