Hugh Crawford

Co. Antrim

the call to duty

According to Hugh's sister Mary Crawford , Hugh found that 'sitting on an office to be a solicitor's clerk far too frustrating'. Hugh then decided to leave Ballybrakes and enlisted in Scotland in early 1912  where he stayed with James and  Jessie Crowe at Livingston Station, Mid Calder, near Bathgate.

He worked at Dean's Wines in Bathgate from march 1912 to august 1914. However Hugh was killed in April 1918 . Hugh had only been promoted to Sergeant a few days before he was killed and in charge of two machine guns. It was also at this time that he was awarded the military medal.

'the way bridge'

'The Way Bridge' is a book written by  Mary Crawford and Maureen Mc.Gauran, Hugh's niece. Mary describes him as,

 'the most likeable and unbiddable of the whole family. All his life he was in danger of being shot instead of the crows or drowned in the ladye or the Bann for that matter. He had many friends both catholic and protestant. He played football finding sitting on an office stool in Boyle's office training to be a solicitor's clerk was far too frustrating he took off to Scotland to join Jamie and from there enlisted in the first world war. He died in France on the 4th of April 1918 aged 24. My mother never really recovered from the shock and it marked all our lives.'

Hugh was killed at the little village of Corbie and buried on the battlefield. It was after the war was finished that his grave was moved to Villers- Brettoneux

Being Brave

Hugh was home on leave in May 1917. Hugh had been offered a commission which would have taken him back to a safer position. He refused, preferring to stay with his men where they could be together. This was typical of a very brave young man.

His chum being killed

One of the soldiers serving with Hugh, Jim Crowe from Scotland wrote to his mother and father telling them about his chum being killed. Hugh Crawford had almost certainly lodged with the Crowe family when he was working in Scotland before the war. The letter he wrote goes as follows,

''Dear father and Mother, you'll be pained to hear that I have lost my dear chum, Hugh, it happened on the night of the 4th of April. He was killed by a shell falling right into the gun emplacement, killing two and wounding three severely. I was only about 20 yards off him at the time having just left him about three minutes before to go to my own gun when this shell came. Being dark at the time, I crawled back to see who was hurt. I saw there was two dead but could not discern who they were. The wounded ones must have crawled away to some dressing station, one of them I know, lost a hand. We had to wait until the daylight came until we could see who the two dead were and I got a shock I can tell you when I saw one was my old chum, Hugh. I asked leave of the officer to bury him for the fear we would be forced to leave him lying where he fell but the officer said it would be to dangerous to go out as Fritz was making things hum with machine gun fire. Several times I  begged to be allowed to bury him and at last he consented in the afternoon. Another of Hugh's favourite chums and I took him out and laid him to his last long rest as best we could. We made a cross and went out when it was dark and placed it on his grave. This is the saddest task that has fallen to my lot since I came out here.

For three years him and I have chummed it together, sharing everything, sleeping under the same blanket under all sorts of conditions, sometimes under cover, very often in the open, in sunshine and in storm and many a tight corner we've been in and now this is the end of our comradeship. Nothing but a memory now, but a sweet memory that will live with me as long as life itself shall last. How long God alone knows.''

The Crawford's and the Crowe's

For many years after the war Jim Crowes family kept in touch with the Crawford's at Ballymoney. Over the years as the older family members died contact was eventually lost. A photograph of Hugh along with an appeal for information was placed in the West Lothian Courier in October 1997 once again found the Crowe family. Jim Crowe had survived the war and emigrated to Canada where he dies many years later. Hugh's niece the author of 'The Way Bridge' then had a chance to keep the friendship between families going.

My Story

My Story is currently under construction..

Please visit this page again soon to read more about my experience during the project and to learn about our trip to the Somme.