About this website

This website is dedicated to the men of the 1st Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment who, like my Great Great Uncle Alexander Frank Crawshaw, fought and died in the First World War.

Many of them were ordinary boys like Frank; working class lads escaping bad homes, poverty, unemployment or simply looking for adventure. Wherever they came from, they became a tight group of soldiers. They laughed and loved together, fought and got into trouble together. And, sadly, they died together.

Several years ago, my Great Uncle, Geoffrey Debnam, gave me a transcript of some letters from Frank to his sister, Mabel. They contain very little information about the events that were unfolding in France and Belgium but they do contain many interesting facts about being a young adult in 1914.

I am researching, writing and submitting a post everyday, using war diaries and contemporary accounts of the First World War, to tell the story of the Frank and the Dorsets, from August 1914 up until at least 11th February 1915. I will be interspersing these posts with Frank’s letters home at the appropriate time, along with other snippets of interest.

I started this project back in 2011, but life got in the way and I decided to shelve it for the Centenary, which is now upon us.

I hope you enjoy this website. Please excuse my many historical and grammatical mistakes, poor typing and ill thought-out leaps of faith.

Lest we forget.

Jonathan Elliman
Hampshire, August 2014

4 thoughts to “About this website”

  1. I to was at the cemetery where Frank is buried, on the very same day as you, to pay me respects to my GREAT uncle , Harry Christmas , who lies next to Frank, I found it very interesting that someone had the same thought as me , and even more so, because on the evening of the 12th, the day Harry died, I attended the service at the Mein gate, to lay a wreath, and a tribute was read out for my uncle and Frank’s name was also mentioned, as they had been mates together , it was very moving.
    One more uncanny thing happened after the service, a young man from a school party, who were also laying a wreath, came up to me to ask if he had heard correctly that the name Crawshaw was mentioned, as that was also his name, I explained that I had seen flowers and that lovely photo at his grave , I said I had taken the email address from the card, and he said his
    grandfather lived in Devon, so I don’t know if he was related,
    I have a cousin who lives in Kemel and he is an historian on WW 1, he has written an amazing peice about the Dorsets, giving me an insight as to the day to day movements the boys had to go through, before those fatal days of the 11th 12th Feb 2015, I would love to hear your reply
    Tricia. Myles. ( nee. : Christmas )

    1. Dear Tricia

      What a fabulous message and what a shame we didn’t bump into each other. I didn’t hear the names being read out at all even though I was there – I wasn’t feeling myself as Frank might have said. Man flu!

      I returned to Wulvergem the next day and walked the land around the trenches of Sector D and E. I’ve taken a load of photos and movies and will be posting them soon.

      With your blessing I would like to write a piece on Harry. Or perhaps you would like to post something on this website? If you have any information or stories about him I’d love to hear them. If he was a friend of Frank and there was any correspondence from Harry back home then I would love to see them if at all possible. My email is jon@ellimondo.com.

      Please do keep in touch and check back on this site as I will be writing more posts, just not every day.

  2. I’ve just seen that you were there on the 12th but I’d actually been to the grave on the 11th. I drove past a car outside the cemetery on the 12th and thought about stopping but time was against me. What a shame. I’ve written to your uncle – whom I assume was the gentleman reading out the cameos at the ceremony.

  3. Hi Jonathan, not specifically about Frank but would like to contact you to talk about Phoebe & other family members, we may be related, look forward to hearing from you.

I'd love to hear from you. Please leave a comment.