Corporal Harry Cruse

Service Army Service No. 20705
Rank Corporal
Regiment:Devonshire Regiment, 1st Battalion
Date of Birth: 1889
Born Cofton
Date of Death: 20/10/1918
Memorial: Cofton Memorial Inscription Corp Harry Cruse, Devon Regt, 20 October 1918

Service History

In September and October 1918 the Devons suffered fewer casualties in successful attacks near Beauchamp and Ovillers, where despite a gas attack and terrible weather, they were the first battalion in their division to reach their final objective.

The War Diary shows that on 19 October ‘the Battalion moved forward and assembled east of river Selle by 23.30 hrs in readiness for the attack next morning.’

‘20th Oct. At 02.00 hrs the 13th Brigade attacked and captured part of the railway line running from SOLESMES to LE CATEAU. At zero plus 34 minutes the 95th Brigade passed through the 13th Brigade with the intention of capturing the Green Line (the 1st objective) 1000yds east of the railway. The Green Line was captured by 04.00hrs. The Battalion consolidated in depth and remained in this position according to orders for 3 hours. The 42nd Division was attacking on our left and 1st Bn. E Surrey Regt on our right. At zero plus 300 minutes the support Companies passed through the Green Line and continued the assault on the Brown Line (Final Objective) which was situated on the crest just west of SOLESMES – OVILLERS Road. Owing to heavy artillery and machine gun fire from front and flanks and heavy condition of ground this objective was not reached by all and advanced elements had to withdraw.’

‘Eventually the Battalion withdrew to a line just east of the Green Line and took up position by about 12.00 hrs. About 100 prisoners and machine guns were captured during these operations. Orders were received that the Corps would again attack the Brown Line at 16.00 hrs. At this hour Nos 4 and 3 Companies advanced under a creeping barrage and captured the Brown Line. Patrols were pushed forward to the SOLESMES – OVILLERS Road which was found to be held by the enemy. During these latter operations at least 100 prisoners and numerous machine guns were captured by the Battalion.’

One officer was killed and three wounded. 22 other ranks were killed, 7 were missing and 55 were wounded. Corporal Harry Cruse was among those killed that day.

On following days the Battalion held their position and remained near Bethencourt.

The 1st Devons’ last action was in the final week of the war beyond the Sambre Canal, when they advanced under heavy shell and machine gun fire, losing 19 killed and more than 60 wounded.

Except for their five months in Italy, the 1st Devons served continuously in France from August 1914 until November 1918 and earned them 26 battle honours. The war had cost the Battalion – whose total strength at any one time should have been 800 men – more than 1,150 killed and three times that number wounded.

Association with Dawlish

His grandfather, Robert Cruse, was born in Kenton on 7 January 1817 to Samuel and Mary Cruse. They appear in the 1861 census at Cockwood Hamlet:

Robert Cruse head 44 (1817-1898) blacksmith born Kenton

Sarah “ wife 45 (1816- 1897) born Dowland

Grace Ann Cross “ dau 14 (1847-1927) born Dawlish

John “ son 14 (1847-1924) Dawlish

By 1881 John Cruse had married Ellen Turner in 1875 and they were living in a nearby cottage at Cockwood to his father and sister, Grace, who was a seamstress. John was also a Master Blacksmith by this time, aged 37. Ellen shows her birth place on the census form as Witheridge.

John and Ellen Cruse had two children by 1891: Annie S Cruse, dau, 9 (1882-1979) born Cofton, and Harry Cruse, son, 1 ¾ yrs (1889-1918). Harry’s birth was registered in Newton Abbot district in 1889, July- Sept, vol 5b, p 108.

Robert Cruse’ death at the age of 81 was registered in Newton Abbot district in 1898. His wife Sarah died in 1897, aged 82.

Annie was not listed with the family in 1901, but the 1911 census shows that the only two children were still living at that time, and both had left home. There is a death record for Ellen Cruse, aged 67, in 1914 .

John Cruse died in 1924 aged 79 . He had moved from Starcross and the CWGC site shows that he had lived at Friars Walk, Exeter.

Harry Cruse was working as a grocer’s shop assistant in 1911, aged 21, and boarding with the Heath family at 9 Belgrave Terrace, Teignmouth. He was to join the Devonshire Regiment, 1st Battalion, but probably not until 1916 as his medal roll card does not award him the 1915 Star.

Devon Roll of Honour
Additional Information Commonwealth War Graves Site

Next of Kin: Father, John Cruse
Last Known Address: 9 Belgrave Terrace, Teignmouth

Bethencourt Cemetery, Commonwealth Graves plan

Free BMD refs

The Long, Long Trail for Battalion history

Refs via susbscription website:

Census data

Uk, Soldiers died in the Great War

UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects

British Army WW1 Medal Rolls Index Cards

Devonshire Regiment War Diary

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National Newspaper Archive