681023 GNR. J.M. CRABTREE. R.F.A.
John Morgan Crabtree was born on 6 January 1893 in Blackpool and baptised on 1 February. His father was James Crabtree (b. 1866 in Burnley), a coach painter. His mother was Harriet Morgan (b. 1865 in Manchester). James and Harriet were married on Christmas Day 1890 and they had 3 children: their first, Herbert (1891-1895) died in infancy, then came John, and then Hannah (b. 1894). In 1911, the family was living at 23 Handsworth Road, Blackpool, and John was working as a shop assistant in a tobacconist’s.
John enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery probably in May 1915 and was assigned service number 681023 and posted to “B” Battery. Later that year, while the Brigade was still in training in England, John was married to Eva Rowson (b. 1893 in Bolton). Eva was pregnant when John left for the War and gave birth to their son, John jnr, in the spring or early summer of 1917, but he died within a few months, exceptionally tragic as this is the time when John snr also met his death.
In June 1917, 286 Brigade were defending Armentières and the War Diary reports regular enemy bombardment of the town and the artillery batteries. On June 8, they reported that 2nd Lt. B. E. C. Lamport of B/286 and one other rank had been wounded, and 1 other rank was killed; that man was John Crabtree. He was 24 years old.
Service No: 681023
Date of Death: 08/06/1917
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, “B” Bty, 286 Bde.
Cemetery/memorial reference: VII. B. 24.
Cemetery/Memorial: CITE BONJEAN MILITARY CEMETERY, ARMENTIERES
After the War, Eva remarried. In 1919, she married George Gibson (b. 1885 in Bolton), the couple had four children and later lived in Manchester. Eva died in 1973.