Capt Colville Eyre Crabbe M.C

Photo circa Boer War

1878 Mar 20 Born in St George Hanover Sq, Victoria Square, London - Colville Cornwallis Albert Eyre Crabbe . His father, Eyre Macdonnell Stewart Crabbe, CB, b. 1852 d. 1905 was a Grenadier Guards officer, son of Colonel Eyre John Crabbe b. 1791 d. 1859 who as a teenager joined the 74th regiment, fought all through the Peninsular war, eventually rose to be the CO of the Regiment, and restored it to being a highland regiment just before he retired in 1845 and married. EMSC was his only child, son of a second marriage. EJC’s father was Colonel Joseph Crabb b. 1742 d. 1791 who was in the East India Company’s army at the time of Warren Hastings.

EMSC married into the Dublin distilling and banking family of Jameson. He served in the Alexandria expedition of 1882 and in the Guards Camel Corps of 1885 which tried to rescue General Gordon. By the outbreak of war in 1899 he was CO of the 3rd Battalion, the Grenadier Guards. He commanded the regiment during the first year of the war, and in 1901-2 commanded a mobile column. He had written to one of his eldest twin daughters in December 1900: “It was fortunate in a way that Colville did not get out to the 71st [he meant HLI] I fear there are very few officers left alive but I have not heard the details yet. I do trust he will keep well it really would be too hard on you all at home if anything serious overtook him.” He heard more before finishing the letter – very few officers of the 71st had in fact been killed. But Colville had got mixed up with “Spiritualism i.e. Tableturning.” The Boer war had revived an interest in spiritualism.

For Crabbe personally, a pleasant feature from the end of March 1901 until the middle of July was that his eldest son Colville acted as extra A.D.C. to him instead of joining his regiment, the H.L.I. Near the end of June he “was of great assistance” to EMSC’s staff officer the Hon. A. F. V. Russell who was endeavouring to move a large transport column “through a country something like Switzerland”. “We marched from 8 till 12, and from 2 till 6, and from 7 to 2 a.m. I had a baddish time… the wagons upsetting; mules sticking and refusing to go on; carts banging into each other and blocking the road…” (This comes from letters home from Russell which were privately published).

1881 census at Ash Lodge, Ash, Surrey, England

1891 census at 43, Guildford House, Castle St, Farnham, Surrey, England

1895 Oct 9. Militia. 4th Battalion, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, Colville Cornwallis Albert Eyre Crabbe, Gent., to be Second Lieutenant.

1902 Oct 22. Married to Mary Elizabeth Butler at St Peter's, Cranley Gardens, Kensington, London

1902 Lt in Highland Light Infantry

1903 Claim for damage to a horse

1905 May 1. Sussex Yeomanry. The undermentioned gentlemen to be Second Lieutenants,:—Colville Cornwallis Albert. Eyre Crabbe (formerly Lieutenant, The Highland Light Infantry).

1910 Jan 29 Arrives UK from Buenos Aires . Travels alone, 1st class

1912 Sep 29 Arrives from UK in Canada as tourist going to Vernon BC.

1914 Aug 1. Enlisted in Ottawa. His next of kin was L.E. Crabbe (brother), c/o Admiralty, Royal Navy & of Seaford, England. His attestation shows 10 years service in HLI, Sussex Yeomanry, Warwick Militia.

1915 Feb 14. Gordon Carling, a dispatch rider in the same regiment wrote home. We have lost pretty heavy the last two days, when over 100 men went down. We charged the German trenches and took them afterwards blowing them up, and on the way back to our own trenches the Germans got a machine gun into us, cutting a lot of our bunch down. Major Gault was shot in the arm; Major Ward is dying, was shot through the back of the head, and Lieut. Crabbe was shot through the hand. It seems terrible to have wounded men on the field, who will have to lie there until dark, as the Germans shoot every man that tries to rescue them, Red Cross or others. The weather has been very cold and wet, and after 48 hours in the trenches many of the men have to be carried out.

1915 Feb 28. Canadian records tell of the MC action. Twenty-five men selected from Colquhoun's snipers and Lieutenant Colville Eyre Crabbe's 13th Platoon, were to wriggle their way through the mud until within striking distance of the enemy position and then rush it at the bayonet point....Immediately night set in, the regiment paraded in the main street of the little village of Dickebusch and proceeded to its appointed place via Voormezeele.Lieutenant Crabbe and thirteen men of the 13th Platoon lay in third line dugouts while the snipers under Corporal Ross occupied their own cellar rendezvous at the inn at St. Eloi. Promptly on schedule time, the two officers, accompanied part of the way by Corporal Ross, set out upon their dangerous mission. As long as possible in fact it was after five o'clock before Col. Farquhar gave the word to Corporal Ross to lead the attack the handful of snipers, then three bomb experts borrowed for the occasion from the 1st Royal Scots, then Lieutenant Crabbe and his thirteen men left the comparative shelter of Shelley Farm and proceeded with fixed bayonets in Indian file to squelch their way through the malodorous mud of a disused communication trench whose construction dated back to October, 1914, and in which still lay the half-submerged bodies of Poilu and Boche. The moon was at the full and threw her beams across the right shoulders of the attacking party so that the wonder is that the usually alert German sentries failed to detect the glitter of her beams on the naked bayonets. The men struggled forward, crouching low over the stinking mud. Ever and anon the nervous Huns sent up Verey lights and the attacking party would submerge itself and remain motionless until the danger passed. An angle of the trench to the left brought the entire party into a position parallel to that held by the 23rd Bavarians and from which the sap had been driven which was the primary cause of the whole attack. A few minutes breathing-time was given here, as, although in light marching order, the men were carrying extra ammunition and the trail from Shelley Farm had been laborious. At the moment of attack, they were just fifteen paces from the enemy parapet and yet the enemy seemed entirely unsuspicious of the impending assault. A whispered command, a cheer that sounded not unlike the savage snarl of a tiger about to leap on its prey, an impetuous dash on the part of the Patricia's, and in five seconds they were through the barbed wire in a mad rush, while the Huns dashed in a panic to the rear through their communication trenches. Pandemonium then broke loose from the entire German line for miles to the right and left search-lights, Verey lights, machine guns, rifles, trench mortars the moonlight paled before the stream of fire and a veritable hailstorm of lead swept the British parapets. Corporal Donald Ross was the first man into the German trench and, although he paid for his heroism with his life, his example inspired his followers and did much towards winning this short, sharp trench battle. The Canadians were vastly out- numbered, but the element of surprise demoralized a bewildered enemy, many of whom were too unnerved even to put up their hands and were killed where they stood or crouched and left where they fell, to be buried in the subsequent ruin of their own handiwork. Only three German prisoners came out alive and two of them were subsequently killed by the fire of their own machine guns before they could be rushed to a place of safety. The three explosive experts, borrowed from the Royal Scots, with the pick-end shovel men, made very short work of the trench and sap, and in a few moments demolished the labour of months. The destruction completed, the invaders immediately retired to their own lines and by sunrise comparative quiet again reigned over the sector.

"Letters of Agar Adamson" another PPCLI officer are available. Adamson, in his letter dated 3rd March 1915, says "The King's Royal Rifle Corps report having found him [Crabbe] in the German sap in front of the trenches with 6 bullets in his head". Adamson also mentioned, in the same letter, Crabbe lost three fingers in an attack made that day.

1915 Feb 28, "On February 28th a successful minor attack was made on the enemy's trenches near St. Eloi by small parties of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. The attack was divided into three small groups, the whole under the command of Lieutenant Crabbe: No. 1 Group under Lieutenant Papineau, No. 2 Group under Serjeant Patterson, and No. 3 Group under Company Serjeant-Major Lloyd. The head of the party got within fifteen or twenty yards of the German trench and charged; it was dark at the time (about 5:15 a.m.). Lieutenant Crabbe, who showed the greatest dash and élan, took his party over everything in the trench until they had gone down it about eighty yards, when they were stopped by a barricade of sandbags and timber. This party, as well as the others, then pulled down the front face of the German parapet. A number of Germans were killed and wounded, and a few prisoners were taken." (Supplement to The London Gazette, 14 April, 1915)

Adamson, in his letter dated 3rd March 1915, mentioned, Crabbe lost three fingers in an attack made that day.

1915 Jun 22. Gazetted MC. Lieutenant C. E. Crabbe, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry

1916 May 12. Struck off strength Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

1917 Jul 23. Can. Inf. Bns. Temp. Lt. C. E. Crabbe, M.C., to be temp. Capt.

1918 Jan 16. Eastern Ontario Regt. Temp. Capt. C. E. Crabbe, M.C., relinquishes his commn. on account of ill-health.

CAMPBELL TEMPEST EYRE CRABBE, Deceased. All persons having claims against the estate of Campbell Tempest Eyre Crabbe, late of Glen Eyre, Bassett, in the county of Hants, Lieutenant, 3rd Grenadier Guards (who died on the 27th day of September, 1915, intestate, and to whose estate letters of administration were granted by the Principal Probate. Registry, on the 4th day of October, 1917, to Colville Eyre Crabbe), are required to send particulars thereof to the undersigned, on or before the 23rd day of February, 1918...Dated this 30th day of January, 1918

1918 Oct 10. Admin Branch of RAF. The undermentioned are granted temp, commns. as Lts.: C. E. Crabbe, M.C. (late Capt., E. Ont. R., C.E.F.), and to be temp. Capt. whilst specially empld. RAF service is online


1919 May 22. To unemployed list RAF

1920 Oct 5 Joined ADRIC with service no 672. Posted to F Coy

1921 Feb 3. Sarah Fitzgpatrick died. He was called as a witness

1921 Feb 13. Called as a witness to inquiry into death of Kennedy & Murphy

1921 Apr 16 "Not Guilty" verdict reached at end of WL King's Trial

1921 Apr 23 Posted to Z Coy

1921 May 16. Died in Dublin - suicide. The Military Inquest concluded that it was suicide and that he "appeared very depressed last month"

Notice is hereby given, that all creditors and other persons having any debts, claims or demands against the estate of Colville Eyre Crabbe, late of Beggars Bush Barracks, Dublin, Ireland, a Cadet in the Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary (who died on the 16th day of May, 1921, and letters of administration of whose estate were granted in the Principal Registry of the Probate Division of His Majesty's High Court of Justice, on the 31st day of August, 1921, to Mary Elizabeth Eyre Crabbe, of Vane Cottage, Billingshurst, Sussex, Widow, the administratrix), are hereby required to send particulars, in writing, of their debts, claims or demands to us, the undersigned, as Solicitors to the said administratrix, on or before the 15th day of December, 1921, after which date the said administratrix will proceed to distribute 'the assets of fine said deceased amongst the persons entitled thereto, having regard only to the debts, claims and demands of which we shall then have had notice; and that we will not be liable for the assets, or any part thereof, so distributed, to any person or persons of whose debt, claim or demand we shall not then have had notice.—Dated this 8th day of November, 1921