Thursday, 22 January 2009

Tom Rutherford Cruwys

John Reis has also sent me some lovely photographs of Tom Rutherford Cruwys, the second son of Tom Cruwys (1853-1896) and Ruth Pearce (c. 1862-1901).Tom was born on 16 December 1888 at 14 Maygrove Road, Kilburn, London. He last appears in the English records in the 1891 census as a two-year-old boy. I've not been able to find him in the 1901 census, and had always wondered what became of him as there is no record of his death in the General Register Office indexes. John has now solved the mystery. He tells me:
Tom went out to Russia to work for the Anglo Maikop Corporation developing oilfields at Apsheronskaya as a 'petroleum mining engineer'. During the First World War he joined 'the British Military Forces in Mesopotamia' attached to Colonel Baltine's Military Mission at Krasnovodsk as an interpreter with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. He died from malaria at Krasnovodsk on 28 September 1918. His younger sister, Dorothy Rutherford Cruwys, used to tell me when I was a child how her brother Tom had risen from his sick bed and ridden off to carry some desperate warning to a town and that he got through in time but died soon afterwards and became quite a hero. There was even a very grainy photo of a memorial which had been raised to him. We have had no luck in finding any more details of this story but there might be something out there.
In 1918 Krasnovodsk was in Russia. Today it is known as T├╝rkmenbasy and is in Turkmenistan. The photograph below of Tom on horseback was probably taken in Russia. John still has some of the letters which Tom sent home to his family, including the last letter he ever wrote which is "complete with a perfect impression in lipstick where it was kissed by his mother". Rather oddly Tom is not listed on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's website, and there is no record of him in the WWI Army Deaths. Can anyone tell us more about Tom's heroic deeds? Where is his memorial?

See also the posting on the WW1 letters of Tom Rutherford Cruwys

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