Surviving the Somme

Frederick Crammond
Frederick Crammond

Hard as it is to imagine – among the death, devastation, mud, smoke, shells and gas of the Somme there were those who found comfort in God.

Among her paternal grandfather’s belongings, Carol Barned found a Bible Frederick Crammond had carried during his time on the French Front – including during that bloodiest of battles which cost tens of thousands of lives.

“At some point in this offensive, my grandfather was gassed – I believe with mustard gas,” said Mrs Barned, of Scholes Park Road, Scarborough.

“As both the French and British, as well as the Germans, used chemical gas during World War One, it is conceivable he may have been gassed by his own side. There are many accounts of winds blowing gas that the British had released, back into the lines of their own men,” she said.

Mr Crammond was born in Hartlepool andlived above his father’s butcher shop in the high street with the family. He was butcher assistant to his master butcher father.

He would have been 19 at the outbreak of war. He volunteered and served in as a gunner with the Royal Garrison Artillery.

He survived the gassing and the war, dying in 1956.

After his death, a small bible of the New Testament was found among his possessions.

“I don’t know if it was his as his name is not written in it, but I understand military personnel were each issued with one of these bibles to carry with them throughout the war. It would easily have slipped into a breast pocket, measuring two-and-a-half-inches wide by three-and-a-half-inches long and a half inch deep. It must have given great comfort to many battle-weary troops,” said Mrs Barned.

Hartlepool, with Scarborough and Whitby, were bombarded by the Germans in December 1914.

Mrs Barned’s paternal grandmother Doris Holliday, living in Hartlepool at this time, though not yet married to her grandfather, remembered the bombardments of the town.

“The first was from the sea at the end of 1914 (she was 15) when Scarborough was also shelled,” said Mrs Barned. “The second was by Zeppelin air ships in 1916, and I can remember her telling me about seeing one above the harbour, the frightening size of it, and the damage the things could do,” she said.