Cree C.

CHRISTOPHER CREE (1878-1916)

21/1568 Private Christopher Cree, 21st (Tyneside Scottish) Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers died of wounds 2 February 1916 and is buried at Sailly-sur-la-Lys Canadian Cemetery, France[1] and is commemorated on Cockfield War Memorial.  He was 38 years old, married to Elizabeth and they had 5 children.

Family Details:

Christopher was born 1878[2] the son of John and Elizabeth Cree.  There were at least 5 children:

  • John W. bc.1868
  • Henry bc.1870
  • Christopher born 1878
  • Adam bc.1882
  • Towers bc.1890 [3]

Christopher married Elizabeth Ann Alderson in 1899 and they had 5 children, all but Lydia were born at Cockfield:

  • Patricia bc. 1900 died in childhood
  • Lydia bc. 1902
  • Laura bc. 1905
  • Edna bc. 1908
  • Ronald bc. 1908. [4]

In 1901, the family lived at Oaks House, Evenwood and 23 year old Christopher worked as a coal miner (hewer).[5]  By 1911, the family lived at Esperley Lane, Cockfield and worked as a coal miner (hewer).[6]

Service Details:

 Christopher Cree enlisted 8 March 1915 [7] at Newcastle upon Tyne and joined the Northumberland Fusiliers, 21st Battalion 2nd Tyneside Scottish being allocated the regimental number 21/1568. [8]

The 21st (Service) Battalion (2nd Tyneside Scottish) was formed at Newcastle 26 October 1914.  In June 1915, it was attached to the 102nd Brigade, 34th Division. [9]   The 102nd Brigade was made up of the following units:

  • 20th (Service) Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers
  • 21st (Service) Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers
  • 22nd (Service) Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers
  • 23rd (Service) Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers
  • 102nd Brigade Machine Gun Company joined 27 April 1916
  • 102nd Trench Mortar Battery joined 18 February 1916 [10]

The NF battalions were known as the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Tyneside Scottish and collectively as the 102nd Tyneside Scottish Brigade.  The Brigade went to Salisbury Plain in August 1915 then embarked for France in January 1916.

10 January: The Division arrived in France with the 20th, 21st and 22nd NF sailing to Le Havre.  The 21st Battalion went to Campaigne and started training in earnest before moving forward to the Steenbecque area in preparation for instruction in trench warfare.  The 21st came under the command of the 25th Brigade for its instruction by the 2/Royal Berkshire Regt. and 2/Royal Irish Rifles.

25 January: evening, half of the officers and NCO’s went into the trenches followed by the other half 27 January.

28 January: 5.30pm, the battalion proceeded by half companies into the line.

29 January: noon, the enemy shelled Battalion HQ and the Officers’ Mess Cook.  21/1080 Private Johnson had his leg broken by shrapnel to become the battalion’s first casualty, not in the trenches but behind the line.

31 January:  a very foggy night, the companies of the 21st Battalion rotated with B and D going into the line.

1 February:  the battalion soon suffered its first fatality when 21/1568 Private Cree was wounded by a machine gun bullet whilst on a working party.

2 February:  Private C. Cree died of wounds having been in France for only 21 days. [11]

Private C. Cree was awarded the British War and Victory medals.[12]

Burial:

Sailly-sur-la-Lys Canadian Cemetery:  Private Christopher Cree is buried at grave reference II.G.159. [13]  The village of Sailly-sur-la-Lys lies approx. 7km west of Armentieres, Pas de Calais, France.  The cemetery was begun by Canadian units in March 1915 and used as a front line cemetery until July 1916.  It contains 313 Commonwealth burials of the First World War.

St. Cuthbert’s Church, Bedlington, Northumberland

20 July 1920: The colours of the 2nd Battalion, Tyneside Scottish 21st Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers was “laid up.”  The Morpeth Herald 7 October 1921 reported that the porch had been converted to a Chapel of Remembrance.

5 July 2009:  The Chapel and the recently refurbished Colour were re-dedicated.

Esperley Lane Residents’ Commemoration

The commemoration was commissioned by the residents of Esperley Lane and presented to the family of Christopher Cree.  The montage was hand painted by George Hickey.  The Esperley Lane commemoration states that:

  • He enlisted 8 March 1915 aged 34:  According to the 1901 census, he would have been older, 36 or 37 years old.
  • He went to France 20 October 1915:  The Medal Roll indicates that he was awarded the Victory and the British Medal and not the 1914-15 Star.  The Star was awarded to those who saw service in any theatre of war between 5 August 1914 and 31 December 1915.  It must be assumed that he did not enter France until after 31 December 1915.

 References:

[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Auckland 1878 Q1 Vol.10 p.254

[3] 1871, 1881 & 1891 census

[4] 1901 & 1911 census

[5] 1901 census

[6] 1911 census

[7] Esperley Lane War Memorial (Residents of Esperley Lane)

[8] Soldiers Died in the Great War

[9] http://www.1914-1918.net/northfus.htm

[10] http://www.1914-1918.net/34div.htm

[11] “Tyneside Scottish” Graham Stewart & John Steen

[12] Medal Roll

[13] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Photographs:

Christopher Cree, Elizabeth & Patricia

Christopher Cree, Elizabeth & Patricia

CREE Christopher

CREE Christopher

Esperley Lane  War Memorial for Christopher Cree

Esperley Lane
War Memorial for Christopher Cree

CREE C.  Headstone

CREE C.
Headstone

One thought on “Cree C.

  1. Pingback: COCKFIELD | The Fallen Servicemen of Southwest County Durham

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