Harrison Thomas Crosby
1885 - 1915

Family Background

Harrison was born in 1885 in Haverton Hill / Port Clarence, Stockton on Tees, the youngest of 12 children.

His parents were Thomas and Elizabeth Crosby. Elizabeth died in 1890 when he was only five years old with Thomas dying in 1908 when Harrison was 23.

Census records show that by 1891 the Crosby family was living in Norton and Thomas was a publican in Norton. He had been the publican at the Station Hotel in Port Clarence. The 1901 census states that Harrison was an apprentice engineer living in Norton.

Ten years later and Harrison is living in Salisbury Street, Thornaby with his wife and their son Raymond Harrison Crosby, running a tobacconist shop ( a daughter, Olive was born in 1912). He had married Maud Elizabeth Brownlee on 22nd October 1908 at St Mary’s Church Norton.


Harrison joined the Durham Light Infantry Territorial Army. The advantage in this was that he was exempt from overseas service and could continue running his business, although in Harrison’s case he would have been asked to enlist as a member of the 5th battalion of the Durham Light Infantry and probably did so in 1915.

Harrison was in B Company, which before embarkation was on duty guarding the coast at Hartlepool. They then re-grouped with other battalions which made up the 50th Division at Newcastle and on 16th April 1915 marched to Newcastle Central Station. The train left for Folkestone at 1.30pm, cheered by crowds as it pulled away with the band playing Soldiers of the Queen.


They sailed out immediately on the InVincta to Boulogne on the night of the 16th/17th April, landing before dawn. They spent the day at St Martins Camp before marching to Pont-de-Briques and then on to Steenvoorde where they were billeted in farmhouses.

The men spent five days there before setting off on motor buses through Poperinghe to Vlamertinghe and then on to Brielen.

At 1am on the 24th they turned into a field near the west bank of Yser Canal where the battalion came under fire at dawn but fortunately suffered no casualties.

After moving to Potijze they occupied a line of reserve trenches where they came under shell fire and had their first casualties. The DLI were unfortunate in that normally units were broken in more gently over a few weeks, acclimatising themselves and learning about the conditions of warfare. However the Battalion had arrived just as the Germans were using gas for the first time.

Within a week of landing they were involved in heavy fighting. The first casualties happened on the 24th April. It is not certain when Harrison sustained an injured leg but having been taken to a local dressing station he was shipped back to England and admitted to the military hospital in Ilford, Essex. His older sister, Bertha May, who had helped to bring him up following their mother's death, travelled to the hospital to nurse him, but Harrison died of his wounds on 27th May 1915.

Harrison was posthumously awarded three medals, the 1914-1915 Star, the British War medal, and the Victory medal, each of which has Harrison’s name and rank inscribed.

His widow, Maud would have been sent a Remembrance Plaque accompanied by a scroll and a letter from the King.

  • There is a Memorial in the Parish church of St Mary’s in Norton with Harrison’s name on it. Both Harrison and his wife Maud are interred in the same grave in Durham Road Cemetery in Stockton-on Tees with a jointly inscribed grave stone in addition to a Commonwealth War Commission grave stone positioned at the base of the grave.