Harold Charles Crossman

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Harold Charles Crossman, 1914. Image courtesy State Library of Queensland.

CROSSMAN, Harold Charles

Service no: 3817 [1]

Place of birth: Orange, 1888

Address: Railway Avenue, Stanmore

Occupation: Labourer

Next of kin: Florence Crossman (wife), Railway Avenue, Stanmore, later 89 Cavendish Street, Stanmore

Date of enlistment: 26 August 1915

Place of enlistment: Orange

Age at enlistment: 27

Fate: Embarked HMAT A54 Runic, Sydney, 20 January 1916. Disembarked Alexandria 26 February 1916. Marched in to Zeitoun, 26 February 1916. Proceeded to join British Expeditionary Force, Alexandria, 27 March 1916. Disembarked Marseilles 3 April 1916. Taken on strength, 2nd Australian Divisional Base, Etaples, 4 April 1916. Taken on strength 18th Battalion, B Company, France, 1 June 1916. Received gunshot wounds to the right shoulder and scalp, 29 July 1916. Embarked HS Dieppe, Calais, for transfer to England, 20 July 1916. Admitted to Tunbridge Wells Hospital, England, 30 July 1916. Embarked Folkestone for return to France 28 November 1916. Rejoined battalion, France, 30 November 1916. Received a gunshot wound to the back 3 May 1917. Admitted to 2nd Australian General Hospital, Boulogne, 4 May 1917. Transferred to Tankerton Hospital, Whitstable, 9 May 1917. Transferred to 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Harefield, 26 June 1917. Discharged to furlough 28 June 1918. Marched in to No 2 Command, Weymouth, 12 July 1917. Rejoined unit, Havre, France, 15 October 1917. Admitted to 39th General Hospital, Havre, with boils, 16 October 1917. Rejoined unit 8 November 1917. Killed in action, Hangard Wood, France, 15 April 1918.

Date of death: 15 April 1918

Buried: Hangard Commnal Cemetery Extension, France, Plot I, Row E, Grave 5

In the early hours of 15 April 1918 Harold Charles Crossman became the unfortunate victim of friendly fire at Hangard Wood on the Western Front. Harold and three other soldiers of the 18th Battalion, B Company were digging in a machine gun post in no man’s land in front of the allied line in preparation for an advance.

Eyewitness Private Sydney Percival Cox disclosed:

I was on an outpost at Villers-Bretonneux at about 1am on 15 April 1918 and our machine gun accidently killed him.
He was sent with a party to dig in our flank and we mistook them for the Germans.
He was brought in and buried. He had been killed by a bullet in the stomach.

Harold Charles Crossman was born in Orange in 1888, the second of four children of Charles Crossman and his wife Teresa nee Gleeson. Shortly after Harold’s birth the family moved to Lithgow where Charles, a baker by trade, worked as a miner.

Harold was educated at Lithgow Public School. As a young man he joined the Eskbank Ironworks as a boilermaker. It was around this time that he also became known by the nickname “Peter”, or “Pete”.

In 1910 Harold married Florence Reilly in Bathurst. A daughter, Dulcie Agnes, was born the following year.

In August 1916 Harold renounced his position at the ironworks to enlist in WWI. In early January about twenty of Harold’s co-workers attended a farewell at the Fewins' Refreshment Rooms in Lithgow. “Peter” was presented with an initialled gold watch and speeches and songs were enjoyed.

Private Crossman embarked from Sydney on 20 January 1916; he disembarked in Alexandria on 26 February. In March he joined the British Expeditionary Force and proceeded to Marseilles. In late July Harold was wounded in action, receiving several gunshot wounds to the right shoulder and scalp. He was transferred to Tunbridge Wells Hospital in England and did not rejoin his unit until late November 1916.

In May 1917 he was wounded a second time and was admitted to the 2nd Australian General Hospital in Boulogne. Again he was transferred to England, this time to Tankerton Hospital in Whitstable. He rejoined the 18th Battalion in France on 15 October 1917.

Following her husband’s death Florence was granted a widow’s pension of £2 per fortnight; her daughter Dulcie, £1. Florence remarried in 1920.

Harold’s father Charles died in Lithgow in September 1918, a victim of the Spanish influenza.

Harold Charles Crossman is commemorated on Lithgow's Fallen Heroes memorial in Queen Elizabeth Park in Lithgow, on his father’s grave in Lithgow Cemetery and on panel number 85 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

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