Regiment or Ship: Royal Engineers
Occupation: Wholesale Ironmongers Vanman
Date of Birth: 1889
Place of Birth: Brighton, Sussex
Address: 84 Reginald Road, Bexhill on Sea
Photos and newspaper articles
Parents: Charles Crook (1866-) and Emily Crook, nee Gigg, (1867-).
Siblings: Ellen Mary, b. 1878, and Edith Florence, b. 1882.
In 1911 Charles senior, Emily, Ellen and Edith were living at 11 Station Road, Bexhill on Sea, and Charles senior was a Railway Porter.
In 1901 Charles junior was living at 41 Upper Station Road, Bexhill on Sea, and in 1910 he married Edith Pickett in the Battle Registration District after which they went to live in Hythe, Kent. By 1914 he and Edith had moved to 11 Station Road, Bexhill on Sea, and to 84 Reginald Road by July 1915.
First World War Experience
The only information we have on Charles’ war service is from the local newspapers – but they contain two very interesting articles which give us some intriguing details.
He had enlisted before 24th October 1914 – being among the first to sign up. In July 1915 the following appeared in a local Bexhill newspaper:
“To The Dardanelles
A short time ago Driver C. Crook, RE, of 84 Reginald-road, was invalided home from France, having been injured by some horses which head become frightened through a shell bursting among them. He has recovered from his injuries and has now proceeded to the Dardanelles.”
A much more interesting article, however, appeared on 9th February 1918 reading:-
Bexhill Man’s Exciting Experiences
Driver C. Crook, R.E., of 84, Reginald Road, has had the exciting experience of being twice torpedoed on his return to duty after spending six weeks’ leave at Bexhill.
Describing his experiences, he says: “I have landed at last, but had a struggle for it. Our journey went off pretty well until we were in sight of land. We were about twenty miles off, but could see land plainly. About 11 o’clock we were on deck thinking it would not be long before we were safe ashore, when all at once the ship shivered from end to end. We at once guessed what had happened, so made a rush for our boat stations. Everyone was cool and calm, not a sound from anyone. The torpedo had struck her at the extreme end, and my boat station was in the middle, so I saw a lot. The nurses were all got safely into the boats and were lowered, while we stood still. Then the ship began to sink, so we got the order, ‘Everyone for himself’, and we jumped into the water. I got picked up by a torpedo boat destroyer, and thought I was safe enough. The sights I saw when our boat went under I shall never forget. There were hundreds of men clinging to her, and the cries and moans were awful. The men were all crushed to death. This all happened in about ten minutes. We picked up a lot of men, and the destroyer was about to start for shore, when a torpedo struck our boat right in the middle. It was horrible. Into the water again I went, but could not get away from the side of the shop, so had to remain clinging to a rope. When she went down after about 15 minutes I went down with her. My feelings I cannot describe. Everything went through my head from when I first remember when quite a ‘kid’ and my last thoughts were of home. I rose up, smothered in black oil and grease, only to go down a second time, but came up again and drifted for about two hours, when I was picked up and put on a mine-sweeper, which took us into port. I lost everything I possess.”
Driver Crook was much shaken by his terrifying experiences, and at the time of writing was stiff and sore.”
Unfortunately, no definite details of Charles’ medals can be found but it is almost certain that he would have received the Victory Medal and the British War Medal – and more than likely that he would have received the 15 Star.