war memorial at dusk, photographed by Michelle Cooper




About the Project


“It took some sticking, I can tell you.” So said a survivor of a vessel torpedoed in the storm-tossed North Sea of autumn 1914.  Most people in the two world wars would have said the same, from the Tommy struggling through the sea of mud in World War I Ypres to the housewife on short rations rushing her children to dank underground shelters in World War II.   

It is to commemorate the bravery of everyone who lived through those times that the Dover War Memorial Project was created. By recording the histories of those Dovorians who lost their lives, the Project ensures that who they were and what they underwent is never forgotten.  

There are many stories. The project began, fittingly, last Remembrance Sunday during the two minutes’ silence, when I was thinking of two of them. Edward and Coulson Crascall are my great uncles. Both were lost in the Great War.  

Euston Road ceemtery, where Eddie Crascall is buried, by Simon ChambersEddie died in France. In April 1917 his battalion of the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment) attempted to relieve the town of Croisilles. The winter had been bitter, and the shivering troops huddled together, trying to warm themselves with cocoa. They had hoped for the cover of night, but the moon was clear and bright. As they marched to their attack positions by a sunken road they were bombarded with shells and bullets whistled down the valley.   

The battalion attacked at 5.15 am, on 2nd April. It went ill. Their initial barrage fell short, and enemy machine gunners were waiting for them as they went over the top. Two companies were forced to combine when their officers were killed, while a third company was unable to advance at all as gun fire raked across them.  The battalion struggled for eighteen hours before relief by the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Eddie had been relieved some time before – killed in action.  

Eddie was one of seven brothers who served in the Great War. His older brother Coulson, known as Harry, was also lost. He was aboard the Cressy, one of the three armoured cruisers so vulnerable to attack through old age and undergunning they were known as the “Live Bait Squadron”.  In September 1914, just seven weeks after the Great War began, the cruisers were torpedoed. The icy seas “took some sticking.” Harry was one of 1,459 men who died that morning.   

We are the tomorrows that Harry and Eddie and many more Dovorians never had. The Dover War Memorial Project ensures we will always remember. A first exhibition has already been held, profiling some of our casualties and displaying many artefacts from the World Wars. A website is under construction. So great is the interest that the Project has had contacts from around the globe, as well as across the country. Meanwhile, a staggering new discovery from original research has led to close collaboration with Ypres, the centre for Great War studies.  

Soon it will again be Remembrance Sunday. Thanks to overwhelming support we now have some information on most of our casualties. Dover can say with pride, “We did not forget”. During the two minutes’ silence at the Town War Memorial this year I shall be thinking not just of two but of many we lost, and of the families they left behind. A commemorative booklet, to be distributed with the November 2nd issue of the Mercury, will remember some of them. But there are many more yet to find and research will continue. For the Dover War Memorial Project every day is Remembrance Day.

This article first appeared in the Dover Mercury for 28th September 2006

Euston Road cemetery, France, where Eddie Crascall lies buried

Copyright 2006 © Marilyn Stephenson-Knight. All Rights Reserved