No.3/3433, Private, Frank CRESSWELL
Aged 25

1st Battalion, Essex Regiment
Killed in Action presumed on Saturday, 14th April 1917

Frank Crysell was born in Sturmer (Risbridge Q1-1892 4A:7 10 ) son of Walter and Eliza CRESSWELL (née BALLS). (married as CRYSELL) The family names seemingly changes with every census, Crysell, Cressell, Creswell to Cresswell but they are definitely the same family group.

1901 census...All as CRESSELL, he was at Old Workhouse Chase, Steeple Bumpstead with his father Walter CRESSELL (sic) [45]; his mother Eliza [44]; brothers Albert [18], William [15] and Bob [13] all farm labourers; sister Agnes L [11]. These all born in Stansfield. Brothers Sidney [7] and Charles [5] were born in Steeple Bumpstead.
For the 1891 census they had just moved to Hall Field, Sturmer and were CRYSELL. There was an elder sister, Ellen [1880]

1911 census...Now CRESWELL they were at Shepherd's Cottage, Steeple Bumpstead, Frank [19] his parents and brother Sidney and Charlie. All the men were farm labourers. Mother's address on pension card was Mrs CRESSWELL, Broad Green, Steeple Bumpstead.

Brother Charles was mobilised into the Norfolk Regiment in 1917 and in April 1919 transferred to the Royal Berkshire Regiment and sent to India. he was demobbed in December 1919. On his Army service records the family address was Broad Green Farm, Sturmer. Franks CWGC entry has Church Street, Steeple Bumpstead

Frank enlisted in Chelmsford.

The war diary:-
Thu, Apr 12, 1917 The Bn. marched from billets at FOSSEUX to ARRAS (abt 10 miles) and on arrival was at once ordered to proceed with the remainder of the 88th Bde to relieve the 37th Bde near MONCHY-LE-PREUX. The Bn arrived at ARRAS at 3pm and left to carry out the relief 4 miles off at 6.30 pm. Owing to intense congestion on the road and other delays the relief was not completed until 3am on 13th.
Prior to leaving ARRAS orders had been issued for an attack on the German line in company with the 1st NFLD to be made on the 13th at an hour to be notified later. The attack was to be made from an Assembly trench which was to be dug on the night of the 12/13 by 2nd Hants, 4th Worcs were in support to the attack. Owing to the late hour at which the Brigade relief was completed and consequent impossibility of making adequate preparation for the attack the operation was postponed.
At daylight therefore on the 13th the Brigade was situated as shown in the attached map.(not found) At 11am orders were received to make the attack at 2pm. These orders also were cancelled a few minutes before Zero.
During the night 13/14 the 2nd Hants dug the required assembly trench and operation orders were issued to the Bn. by Lt. Col. Halaham. App. B.
At 5.30am on 14th the barrage fell and the battalion left the trench and carried out the assault. In spite of a certain weakness of the barrage the objective was gained and by 6.30am all companies had reported that they were busy digging in. In the mean time "X" Coy detailed to form a flank guard to the then attacking Coys had at once come in contact with the enemy. Therefore acting under Capt. Foster's orders No. 5 Platoon got into shell holes at about O.1.b 8.1 and opened fire. No. 8 Platoon being checked by machine gun fire from ARROW COPSE No 7 was directed to outflank this copse with the result that No 8 could again get forward, capturing the 2 machine guns & driving the enemy out of the copse. The small wood at O.2.a.7.5 was also in hostile occupation but was cleared by Lewis Guns & Rifle Grenades. The Company then moved forward to the N. end of the copses where all platoons came under fire from a line of hidden machine guns. The company now began to form the chain of strong points as detailed in operation orders.
From this point no further definitive news could be gathered as to the fate of this company. A few men eventually rejoined the battalion & from their statements it is certain that all Platoons were in their proper positions where they were at once attacked by very superior German forces & were finally overwhelmed in these positions at a time between 6.30 and 7.30 am.
The main attack by the remaining 3 Coys having reached their objective by 6.30 am started to dig in and reports were sent back to Bn. Hqrs that large forces of the enemy could be seen in the BOIS du SART & the BOIS des AUBE PINES and that all covering parties were sent forward were at once coming under heavy machine gun & rifle fire. It became apparent rapidly to the Coy commanders that an immediate counter attack was being prepared and this also was reported to Bn. Hqrs. These reports were confirmed by two Coy commanders in person returning wounded from the main attack. [Capt Tomlinson, Capt Caroline] Steps had already been taken to get the Artillery on to the points where the enemy was reported to be massing but owing to the destruction of the wires by shell fire it was an hour before the guns opened fire. By 7.30 am the counter attack had fully developed in all its strength of at least 9 battalions. The weight of the attack seams to have come from the N. East & thus fell on "X" Coy. This Coy in spite of a stout resistance was gradually overwhelmed. Vide app. C.
From 7.30 onwards no reports, messages or wounded men arrived at Bn Hqrs or the Aid Post it is therefore apparent that "X" Coy having been overrun the hostile forces got between MONCHY & the attacking Companies of the Essex & NLFD. No men have returned from these Companies.
As soon as it became clear that MONCHY itself was being attacked patrols were put out from Hqr party to hold street barricades in MONCHY. No German succeeded in entering MONCHY. It must be remembered that during all this time the town was under an intense enemy barrage thus rendering it almost impossible to reinforce or support the two Battalions & making the work of the respective Hqrs parties extremely arduous. Except for a certain amount of support from the 4th Worcester & 2nd Hants they fought on alone and these two battalions broke up a German attack designed not to drive them back but to retake MONCHY itself.
Casualties were 17 officers and 644 other ranks

The remnants went into the CAVES at ARRAS at 8 pm.

The final total recorded by CWGC was 187 killed, of which only 6 have a known grave.

scene of the action, the wood mentioned is circled

photo; Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Frank Cresswell is commemorated on the Arras memorial, Faubourg d'Amiens, bay 7

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details

BACK to Steeple Bumpstead home page