2nd Lt
Harry Crank

Information about birth

Year of birth:
Place of birth:
Bolton, Lancashire, England, United Kingdom

General information

Pastry cook

Army information

England, United Kingdom
British Expeditionary Force
Second Lieutenant
 —  Lancashire Fusiliers, 17th Bn. (1st South East Lancashire)  (Attached)

Information about death

Date of death:
Place of death:
Colombo House near Madonna, Langemark-Poelkapelle, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)


Tyne Cot Memorial
Panel: 54

Distinctions and medals 2

Points of interest 1

#1 Place of birth

My story

Harry Crank was born in 1890 in Bolton, East Riding of Yorkshire. He was the son of Kate and John Crank. Prior to the war Harry worked as a pastry chef, but was also an avid local swimmer and diver. In 1908, at the age of seventeen, he was selected for the aquatic team at the London Olympics. During the war Harry enlisted in the 17th Lancashire Fusiliers (1st South East Lancashire), part of the 104th Brigade, of the 35th Division.

At 4 p.m. on 20 October 1917 they moved to the front line at “Les 5 Chemins” a crossroads east of the village of Madonna. The “W” and “X” companies formed up on the front line, with the “Y” and “Z” companies in support on the north and southwest side of Egypt House respectively. The 15th Battalion (1st Birkenhead) of the Cheshire Regiment formed up on the left side of the 17th Lancashire Fusiliers, the 23rd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment on the right. The 17th Lancashire Fusiliers were tasked with taking the first objective, a 400 yard or 366 metre long line due east of Maréchal Farm.

The attack commenced at 5:35 a.m. on 22 October 1917. Supported by artillery, they were able to capture the objective and started consolidating the new front line. However, the division on the right failed to move up, leaving this flank unsupported. During the morning and afternoon actions were undertaken to reestablish a connection with the Manchester Regiment on the right. This was done under machine gun and rifle fire. In the afternoon the new positions were shelled.

At 4:31 p.m. an s.o.s. flare was sent up on the left flank, signaling a German counter attack. The Cheshires had lost most of their officers and were pushed back to Colombo House around 4:45 p.m. This rout was stopped by the officers of “Y” company and the 17th Lancashires were able to stop the German advance aided by artillery. After the German attack the position held by the 17th Lancashire Fusiliers formed a salient 1000 yards deep and 300 yards wide, unsupported on both sides. The officers decided to fall back, forming on the support positions of “Y” company, regaining contact with the neighbouring battalions. These positions were consolidated and held until 23 October 1917, when they were relieved.

Second Lieutenant Harry Crank was part of “Y” company and was killed while running across to the Cheshires in order to stop the retreat. He was one of 4 officers and 32 other ranks killed that day. This battle left 142 men wounded and five missing. The body of Second Lieutenant Harry Crank was not recovered or identified after the war. He is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, panel 54.

Sources 5

Sources used
Sources used
McCarthy, Chris. Passchendaele: The Day-By-Day Account (Londen: Unicorn Publishing Group, 2017), 140-141.
Sources used
Naval & Military Archive
Sources used
The Long Long Trail
Sources used