WW1 2nd Lieut. Edward Arthur Craig 25988

2nd Lieut. Edward Arthur Craig [1]

Edward Arthur Craig (25988) was born on the 5 December 1882 in Christchurch, the younger son of David and Sarah Emma Craig of 71 Gillies Avenue, Epsom. (Edward’s brother was Alexander Leslie Craig.)

Edward attended Auckland Grammar School 1896-1899 and in 1912 Auckland University College (now the University of Auckland). [1] Edward was a keen sportsman and was an active member of the Auckland Athletics and Cycle Club, the Auckland Bowling Club, the Grafton District Rugby Football Club, foundation member of the Auckland Grammar Old Boys Rugby Football Club, and the Auckland Golf Club. [2, 3, 4, 5,] He attended St Luke’s Presbyterian Church, Remuera Road.

On his enlistment he stated his work was an Insurance officer with New Zealand Insurance Company but as reported by the New Zealand Herald, Lieutenant Craig held a responsible position at the Auckland office of the New Zealand Insurance Company and was very greatly esteemed both by the company’s clients, as well as by his superior officers and many people in Auckland, with a very ‘ promising future.’ [7] When Edward enlisted, he was 34 years of age, 5ft 10 inches tall, with brown eyes and brown hair. He sailed for Devonport, England on HMNZT ‘Devon’ arriving on 10 June 1917, as a Second Lieutenant with the 24th Reinforcements, Auckland Infantry Regiment, A Company of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.

St Luke's Roll of Honour [2]

He was sent to Sling, England and in July 1917 on to Etaples in France to the Western Front into the field of battle. The ‘bite and hold’ tactic that had been so successful at Messines was to be used. The first two bites were successful, with the next bite scheduled for 4 October 1917 amid rising optimism that a way through the German lines had at last been found. The New Zealand Division made its first attack on 4th October; its role was to cover an Australian assault on the Broodseinde Ridge to the south. The New Zealanders’ objective was Gravenstafel Spur, the first of two spurs from the main ridge at Passchendaele (the other was Bellevue Spur). Bombardment began at 6 a.m.; the Germans had decided to try to stop any new attack at the outset. Whereas previously the front-line trenches had been occupied by minimal forces, men were now packed into them. The result was heavy casualties Although the going was difficult — ‘The mud is a worse enemy than the German’, divisional commander Sir Andrew Russell complained — the New Zealand troops advanced 1000 m to secure the spur and consolidate their position. More than 1000 prisoners were taken, but the attack was costly. Among the New Zealand Division’s 1600 casualties, some 500 men had been killed or mortally wounded.

It was here on 5 October 1917 Edward died of gunshot wounds received in the field at Passchendaele Ridge in the 3rd Battle of Ypres, Belgium. Edward Craig is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Poperinge, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, Plot XX, Row H, Grave 14 There is an obituary to him in the Auckland Grammar School Chronicle. 1917. And memorials at:

  • St Luke’s Presbyterian Church, Remuera, Auckland Golf Club, [9]
  • Auckland Grammar School War Memorial
  • Family memorial at Waikaraka Cemetery, Auckland