Ted Crane - Cliffe History

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Ted and Jack Crane

The Crane Family of Cliffe

When you walk along Reed Street today it may be difficult   to imagine that this area of Cliffe was once known as Cliffe   Market. At the turn of the last century Cliffe had many   shops and tradesman serving the community.

Travelling eastwards, passing North Road, there once   stood a number of stores which included: William Joyce, the   butcher and grocer, Walter Frayling, a draper, clothier,   general outfitter, boot provider, dress & mantle maker,   milliner, and mourning warehouseman; whose speciality was   bespoke tailoring, James Alston Collins, grocer, hardware   dealer, oilman, tobacconist, glass, china and earthenware   merchant, Charles Beaumont, confectioner and Walter Reeve,   builder, decorator & undertaker.

In the High Street, between the Bull Inn and the Six   Bells, there was also 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.

Further along Church Street there other shops to   cater for the everyday needs of the village which included a   butcher’s shop owned and run by Thomas Charles Crane and   family.
old photo of butchers shop belonging to the Cranes in Cliffe, Kent
T.C. Crane - Family Butchers (1st Prize at Rochester Show 1903)
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.
Thomas Charles Crane Senior at Allens Farm c. 1900
The Crane family move into Allen’s Farm where Thomas Charles Crane raises 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.
The Crane Family at Allens Farm.
From r. to l. (top) Nell, Ted, Bill.   (middle) Jack, Emma, Thomas Charles Snr. with Mabel on lap, Emma Snr., Tom, Lil.   (bottom) Flo, Rose, Jess
Emma Jane Crane
Thomas Charles Crane   
Three of the eleven   children of Thomas Charles and Emma Jane Crane:
Emma Jane Jnr., Florence   and Mabel.
The Move to Australia

We are not completely certain for the decision but the   Crane family, over a period of a couple of years, left   England to begin a new life on the other side of the world.
Certainly Thomas Charles Crane was a highly respected man   in the village - when he and family left he was a Parish   Councillor, a Schools’ Manager, Charity Trustee and People’s   Churchwarden, and was presented with an inscribed silver   watch, and a purse of gold (£35) subscribed for by his many   friends.

The Crane family (all except son Henry) migrated   to Australia between 1910 and early 1912.  Son Edwin   (Ted) was first to leave the UK in July 1910 with his wife   and young son Albert Edwin Charles: fondly known as Ted,   then Willie (March 1911), Tom and family (July 1911) and   Edith Rose (August 1911). Thomas Charles Crane (Snr) along   with his wife Emma Jane and daughters, Nellie, Jessie,   Florence and Mabel together left the UK in November 1911.    Last to leave was Emma Jane and husband Frank (Thorndike)   along with sister Elizabeth (Lil) and husband Bert Reade in   late December 1911. Tickets were purchased for 15 pounds   each and Frank, Emma, her sister Lil and husband Bert Reade   boarded the SS Geelong for a journey of 11,810 miles to   Brisbane, Australia.   Leaving Tilbury UK on 28th   December 1911 they arrived safely in Adelaide 8th February   1912 continuing on to Sydney.

After leaving Cliffe and the relative splendour of Allens Farm the Crane  family moved into what can only be described as a shack!
The   family home was now in Nanango, Queensland to the north-west   of Brisbane. Nanango Shire was originally inhabited by the   Aborigines. They used it (primarily) as a gateway into the   Bunya Mountains, where Bunya pine nut festivals had been   celebrated ever since the Dreamtime.
In 1866 gold was discovered and the following 'gold   rush' lasted from 1866 until 1888. Today, along the 7 mile diggings Traces of gold and gemstones including   red garnet and opaque sapphires can still be found.
Frank and Emma disembarked at Sydney making their way to   Dungog, a country town in mid NSW working there on a farm   for a time.  Lil and Bert continued to Brisbane on the   “Wyandra” arriving 24th February 1912 and then moved on to   Nanango in country Queensland where most of the family had   made their way to begin dairying in February 1912. The Crane   family had raised cattle in UK and owned a local butchery in   Cliffe UK so the industry was familiar to them however the   vastness of the area they now lived in must have taken a   huge adjustment.

Nanango is one of Queensland's oldest   towns and has a unique heritage and colourful past. Situated   approximately 131km (81 miles) north west of Brisbane the   journey takes around 2 hours comfortably by car.  It   would have been a far different story in the early 1900’s   though the area was opening up and growing considerably.    Nanango today is the home of the Tarong Power Station and   Coal Mine and has retained the tranquil and beautiful   setting of a country town with all businesses offering   genuine country hospitality.  
Lil’s husband Bert sadly passed away in Nanango in 1913   at the age of 33 yrs.  She remarried to Albert Strange   in Apr 1916 and they purchased property in Brisbane at 26   Thomas Street Greenslopes building a house there.  The   house was called “St Georges” named after “St Georges Row”   where the Crane family had lived in Cliffe, England.    “St Georges” was later to become the Thorndike family home.

Moving on from Dungog approx 1913 Frank and Emma joined   her family in Nanango where they lived and worked, Frank   continuing as a butcher (occupation recorded on his   enlistment papers) and farmer (listed on young Frank’s birth   certificate). After the sadness of losing their little   daughter in 1902 it was another 12 years before son Frank   (Frank Jnr) was born on 2nd August 1914. It was a joyful   time in their lives and young Frank was much loved.  He   was an only child and grew up hearing many stories of family   life back in Cliffe, Kent.  Emma had worked in the   Manor House and told stories of secret tunnels, some from   the Manor House to the church down the lane, lights   signalling in the windows to smugglers operating the area   and other scary things. There was much correspondence with   other siblings and relatives and friends, including Frank’s   mother Anne in the Victory Inn. Frank Jnr always had a   desire to go and visit Cliffe and see for himself the places   they had talked about so often.  It wasn’t until his   80th year in 1994 that his dream was realised and he visited   England in person with son and daughter in law, Roley and   Claire.  It was a great joy to meet some relatives and   to see for himself the old haunts of his parents.

Frank and Emma purchased a property to dairyfarm just   outside of Nanango named “Illawarra” where they milked a   herd of the Australian Illawarra Shorthorns.  Emma’s   father Thomas also farmed and milked this same breed.   Adjacent to their property was Mabel (Emma’s sister) and her   husband Ben’s farm, also dairy, named “Glan Devon”.
The Crane family in Australia
Ted & Lil Crane and family

Ted and Lil were soon to have a   daughter, Hilda Mabel (Kitty), born 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 made famous by the book and film '
Bridge   over the River Kwai
The horrors of how the Japanese   prisoners of war were treated, although now all to apparent,   was unknown at the time and it is supposed that Ted and Lil   were waiting for the end of the war to see the return of   their two sons.
The living and working conditions on the Burma Railway   were horrific. The estimated total number of civilian   labourers and POWs who died during construction varies   considerably, but the Australian Government figures suggest   that of the 330,000 people that worked on the line   (including 250,000 Asian labourers and 61,000 Allied POWs)   about 90,000 of the labourers and about 16,000 Allied   prisoners died.

In May 1943 they heard that their   youngest son, Jack, had died from cholera and, a couple of   days before Christmas on 23rd December in the same year,   that Ted had succumbed to  dysentery.
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 Cemetry.

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   Kitty 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.

Although, as a Cliffe born boy, Ted is not commemorated on the Cliffe War Memorial both he and his younger brother have their names inscribed upon the war memorial in Nanango.

We would like to express our sincere thanks to the Thorndike and Gilbert familes, both here and in Australia, who have allowed us to share their stories.
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