Albert Edwin Charles Crane - Cliffe History

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Albert Edwin Charles Crane (Ted)
1908 (Cliffe) – 1943 (Thailand)

Towards the end of the nineteenth century Cliffe was well   catered by means of local shops: draper, clothier, general   outfitter, boot provider, dress & mantle maker, milliner,   grocer, hardware dealer, oilman, tobacconist, glass, china   and earthenware merchant, a post office, fishmonger, harness  maker, doctor, builder, shoemakers, cycle maker, butcher, grazier, haberdashery, tobacconist, hairdresser, stables,   bookseller, newsagent, confectioner, baker, general stores   and tailor.

Along Church Street there was a butcher’s shop owned  and run by Thomas Charles Crane and family.

Thomas Charles Crane moved to Cliffe from Cooling in  1891 along with his wife, Emma, and their seven children one  of whom was a fourteen year old Thomas Charles Crane Jnr.   who worked alongside his father in the butcher’s shop.

The Crane family move into Allen’s Farm where Thomas  Charles Crane raised cattle – probably for use in his own   butcher’s shop where Elizabeth, the eldest daughter is   employed as a butcher’s clerk and sixteen year old Edwin   works on his father’s farm.

Thomas Crane’s eldest daughter, Emma Jane, marries a   greengrocer from Cliffe named Frank Thorndike as so the   family enter into the well-known and respected Thorndike   family of Cliffe. The Thorndike’s run the Six Bells and   Victoria Inn, greengrocers, coal merchants and, by marriage,   related to the Elford and Filmer familes of Cliffe.

Whether it is to seek out a new life or seek their   fortune there appears that a number of the villagers leave   England to travel to Australia. Between 1919 and early 1912   the whole of the Crane family migrate to Australia. Edwin,   his wife Lil and young son, Albert Edwin Charles (Ted) are   the first to leave (July 1910) and arrive at Nanango,   Queensland.

A second child was born, Hilda Mabel in 1912, and in   1917 a young son, John William (Jack) completed the family.

In June 1941 both Ted and Jack enlisted in the   Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and sailed off to Singapore   and Malaya early in 1942.
Ted and Jack arrived in Singapore at the end of January – just a few days before the   Japanese attack which saw over 100,000 prisoners taken.

On 16th February the Crane family heard that both Ted and Jack were reported as missing and then later as prisoners of  war. Their fate was to be used as forced labour on the   infamous Burma-Thailand railway (Bridge over the River   Kwai).

In May 1943 they heard that their youngest son, Jack, had died and, a couple of days before Christmas in the same year, that Ted had also died.

The boys had been buried   where they fell but, at the end of the war, the Army Graves   Service reburied many of the fallen. Jack was buried at Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery and Ted at Kanchanaburi War Cemetery.

One can only wonder how Edwin and Lil must have   suffered in the not knowing and then in the deaths and   non-return of their two sons. It is said that the   circumstances surrounding their deaths left their sister  heartbroken and it affected her all her life.

It was not until 2009 that a member of the family  managed to visit the grave of Ted Crane. After attending a   service of remembrance at Kanchanburi War Cemetery and given   ten minutes to ‘look around’, Peter Thorndike, stumbled upon   his great uncle Ted’s grave.

© December 2012, D. Green - Cliffe History
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