Monday, 19 November 2018

Your King and Country Need You!

On the 11th August 1914, the now famous ‘Your King and Country Need You’ slogan was published, calling for 100,000 men to join Lord Kitchener’s new army. The call was answered within two weeks. Amongst them was Brian Crossley. 

Your King and Country Needs You © IWM (Art.IWM PST 0581)
Brian was a Committee Member of the Manchester Refuges having joined the charity after the death of his father William, in October 1911. William had previously been Chairman of the Refuges. At the age of 25, the 1911 census records him living at the family home still, despite being a director at Crossley Brothers Limited. Two years later however, on the 1 July 1913, he married Miss Margaret Lilian Sidebotham in Bucklow, Cheshire.

As well as his support for the Manchester Refuges, Brian was also a member of the board of the Royal Infirmary and the YMCA Executive, along with having Chief Executive and Chairman responsibilities for the Openshaw Lad’s Club. Like his Father, Brian continued to put his wealth and time into philanthropic ventures and was well liked and respected within the Manchester Community.

Brian Crossley in uniform
When Lord Kitchener put out his plea for men to enlist, Brian responded to the call. He was granted a commission in the Highland Light Infantry as a Lieutenant. This battalion was deployed to the Western Front where Brian would have seen action at the Battle of the Aisne and the First Battle of Ypres amongst others. In 1915 the regiment was involved in a lesser known World War One battle at Festubert.

The Battle of Festubert was fought 15th- 25th May in the Artois region of France and was part of the larger French Second Battle of Artois. However hampered by the shortage of artillery ammunition and guns, and not helped by poor weather, the British Army achieved only a small-scale tactical success at Festubert by capturing enemy positions. The British lost 16,648 casualties in the battle including Lieutenant Brian Crossley who was reported ‘killed in action’ on 17th May 1915.

He is commemorated at Le Touret Memorial in France and also on Trinity College, Cambridge’s War memorial where he was previously a Fellow. He was heavily mourned by the Manchester Refuge who recorded his death in the Children's Haven with 'profound sorrow'.

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