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Albert Craggs (1885-1977)

Haswell born son of colliery blacksmith served in France with Canadian Forestry Corps

The youngest son of the colliery blacksmith John Craggs and his Cumberland born wife Hannah, Albert was born in Haswell on 28th January 1885. By 1901 Albert was an apprentice greengrocer and he and his three younger siblings were still living in Haswell with their parents. With both parents having died by 1911, Albert was lodging with his sister Jennie and her husband in Haswell and was working for an aerated water manufacturer.

On 27th September 1912 Albert arrived in Montreal having sailed from Liverpool aboard the SS Empress of Ireland and headed west to Kelowna, British Columbia. Four years later having worked as a teamster Albert enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). He named his brother Roland in Wallsend-on-Tyne as his next of kin. He became Private 1048380 of the 242nd Battalion, Canadian Forestry Corps (CFC).

Back in Liverpool at the end of November 1916, the Battalion made its way to Witley Camp, Surrey. From there Albert was posted to the 22nd Company, CFC and proceeded to France at the start of the new year. Assigned to CFC District 5, Jura Group, Private Craggs found himself in the forest of La Joux on the Swiss border. In mid February they built a mill there which was completed in four weeks which allowed forestry operations to commence.

Attached to the CFC School of Farming for two months over the summer of 1917 in April 1918 Albert spent a week attached to CFC District 5 in Boulogne. He was admitted to hospital with influenza on his return to La Joux and was then appointed Acting Lance Corporal, a rank in which he was confirmed in December. The 22nd Company CFC returned to England in January 1919 and was posted to Seaford. They returned to Canada aboard the SS Royal George, and arrived in Halifax on 20th February.

Albert was granted permission to marry in July 1917 and again in December 1918, but as he married a Swiss girl, Esther Remond, there is no trace of the date of the wedding.

Within a month of being demobilised in Canada, Albert was back in England. Then he and his new wife Esther arrived together in New Brunswick on 28th December 1919 aboard the SS Scandinavian.

By 1921 Albert and Esther, along with her sister Rose, were living on a farm in Rutland, British Columbia (BC), where they lived until his retirement in the mid 1960s. They remained in Kelowna where Albert died at home from pneumonia and emphysema on 10th February 1977. He was cremated four days later and has no known grave. Esther, his wife, died less than a year later.

Civil Parish: Haswell

Birth date: 28-Jan-1885

Death date: 10-Feb-1977

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: Haswell Lane, Haswell (1891 census)
Front Street, Haswell (1901 census)
Rutland, Kelowna, British Columbia (1921 Canadian census)
1469 Lambert Avenue, Kelowna, British Columbia (death certificate)

Religion: Church of England

Employment: Apprentice green grocer (1901 census)
Mineral water worker (1911 census)
Teamster (enlistment papers)
Farmer (1921 Canadian census)

Family: Parents: John Craggs, Hannah Craggs
Siblings: Mary H Craggs, John Stephen Craggs, William Roland Craggs, Jane A (Jenny) Craggs, Norah Craggs
Wife: Esther Eliza Craggs (nee Remond)

Military service:

Lance Corporal
Canadian Forestry Corps

Medal(s): British War Medal
Victory Medal

Gender: Male

Contributed by Jean Longstaff, Durham | Jim Busby, Canada

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