Albert Edward Cresswell


Albert Edward Cresswell, 1882-1916, was the fifth of ten children belonging to William Daniel and Elizabeth Fanny (née St. John) Cresswell of Stoke.  Albert’s father was a gardener and worked for the Marsden family at Isel House.  At one time the Cresswell family lived in Isel Lodge, on Main Road Stoke, somewhere near the gates to Isel Park.  Albert, like his father, was a gardener.

Cresswell1Albert Edward Cresswell
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With the outbreak of World War 1, Albert enlisted on 15 December 1914 and became 6/1500 Private Cresswell of the 1st Canterbury Regiment’s 12th (Nelson) Company.  His description on enlistment states his height as 5’ 5 ½”, weight 136 lb, chest-measurement 33-37” with dark hair and complexion, and blue eyes.  On 14 February 1915, he sailed from Wellington for Egypt with the NZEF’s 3rd Reinforcements aboard the Tahiti (HMNZT 18).

Albert disembarked at Suez on 26 March and joined the Canterbury Infantry Battalion in the Dardanelles on 4 May.  Four days later Albert was wounded in action and admitted to the 17th General Hospital in Alexandria on 12 May.  The gunshot wound to his thigh necessitated just over a month’s stay in hospital.

Cresswell2Albert (left) with his tent mates. On the reverse of a card sent to his brother
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When he was recovering in Egypt, Albert sent a postcard back to his older brother William (who was a veteran of the Boer War).  On the front of the postcard was this photo that he had taken with his tent mates.  Albert is standing on the left.

This is what Albert wrote:

July 4th 1915
Dear Bro Will
I am putting this in with the album to save envelopes. I had this taken with my tent mates here at the base. There is none of them Nelson boys – two of them are from Christchurch and the other is from Auckland. With best wishes from your old Bro Albert to Bessie & yourself & the kiddies.

By 16 June Albert was sufficiently recovered to be attached to the NZ Advance Base Depot at Mustapha where he remained for just under two months.  On 11 August, aboard the SS Alnwick Castle, he returned to the Dardanelles.  Unfortunately, he was soon sick again.  His condition deteriorated to such an extent that by 19 September he was admitted to the No.1 Canadian Stationary Hospital at Mudros on the Greek island of Lemnos.  Some six weeks later, on 28 October, Albert was transferred to London’s King George Hospital.  On recovery, 12 January 1916, Albert was attached to the NZ Base Depot at Hornchurch just outside London, before rejoining the Canterbury Infantry Regiment in Ismailia on 1 March.  Following a short stay in Egypt, Albert next found himself embarking on the Franconia for France on 6 April.

cresswell3The Cresswell family outside their home - Broadgreen Cottage, 277 Nayland Road, Stoke - c 1893: Gertrude, William, Daniel (father), Reginald, Albert (leaning on a chair), Lilian (seated), Edith and Fanny (mother). Albert’s younger brother, Reginald George (63114), also served in World War 1 from July 1917 to October 1919. Albert’s older brother, William (1159) was a trooper in the Boer War along with another man from Stoke, William Stud Bovey.
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From this point on Albert would have been very much in the front line of action on the Western Front with the 1st Battalion of the Canterbury Infantry Brigade. 

From chapter VII of The History of the Canterbury Regiment, N.Z.E.F. 1914 – 1919 we learn that:

“Meanwhile the 1st Brigade had been in Divisional reserve, and the 1st Canterbury Battalion had on the 14th (September) moved from Fricourt to bivouacs at Mametz Wood.  During the morning of the 15th, it provided parties for carrying to the forward dumps: but in the afternoon it moved forward to Carlton Trench, and in the evening still further forward to Worcester, Seaforth, and Rifle trenches, between the two Longueval-High Wood roads, where it was in support of the 2nd Brigade.  The following morning the battalion was ordered forward to the trenches north-west of Flers preparatory to making an attack on Goose Alley in the afternoon.  On arrival at Flers, however, these orders were cancelled and the battalion relieved the 3rd Battalion of the 3rd brigade and the 2nd Wellington battalion in the trenches north and north-west of Flers.”

This account of the action at Flers then goes on to say:

“The 1st Canterbury battalion spent the afternoon of the 16th in digging a trench from the right flank of the Wellingtons to its own right flank in the work known as “Box and Cox”, on the east of the Flers-Ligny Thilloy road.  The battalion remained on front of Flers throughout the 17th, being shelled during the afternoon and right up to the following dawn.”

Albert’s B.103 Casualty Form simply states that he was killed in action in the 3rd battle of the Somme at Flers on 17 September 1916, after being wounded the previous day and then returned to duty.


Updated May 12, 2020

Sources used in this story

  •  Family photo, postcard and family background information: courtesy of Helen Fitzsimons

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