It’s less than a month until our townwide event, Time to Remember: an event to mark the first two minute silence on Sun 01 May and we have received some really fascinating stories from local Farnham residents on their ancestors and what they did during the war. This week we look at the story of the incredibly brave and gallant Second Leieutenant Leslie Robert Croft, a young Farnham man who led his boys into battle in the early days of the war.
There’s still time to get involved with the remembrance event. Find out about our photography and poetry projects as well as the full day schedule on the event page.
Second Lieutenant Leslie Robert Croft
Second Lieutenant Leslie R. Croft was the son of Major G. Croft, Manor House, Upper Hale Road, Farnham.
Leslie attended Farnham Grammar School where he is remembered as being cheerful, patient and of sterling character who played cricket for the district. He joined the 2nd Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment and was present at the Battle of Gheluvelt (during the First Battle of Ypres), where Leslie was in command of No.10 platoon of ‘C’ company. On the 30th October 1914, the platoon was positioned outside of a pine wood, ready to engage the Germans on the other side. Leslie was shot in the head but refused to leave the men and get to safety. He was then shot through the neck and, most likely instantaneously, killed aged 22.
It is believed that Leslie was the only Farnham man serving in the Royal Sussex Regiment to die. His death was the first to be announced in the Farnham Grammar School magazine. A letter from a man that served with Leslie and saw him die was also printed in the magazine, ‘…Mr Croft, finding the enemy too strong for us, sent for assistance. A few minutes after…he was wounded in the head… I bandaged his wound…. Having done this, I selected the best way for him to get safely away. To my great surprise he refused to leave, his only answer to my suggestion was, “I must see this job finished first.” These happened to be the last words of our officer and hero, for he just raised his head to give some command when a bullet passed through his neck. In conclusion allow me to say that we all realised we had lost not only an officer and a leader, but a great friend. For Lieutenant Croft was as great a hero as anyone who has fallen or who will fall in this great campaign, he remained at his post when thousands would have left.’
Leslie is commemorated on the Farnham Grammar School ‘Roll of Honour’, as well as the Ypres memorial in Belgium.