5 1/4 Inches by 4 1/4 Inches
(13.5cm x 10.8cm)
18 Anylesbury Street
Born at Oakham, Rutlandshire, seventeen year old William Croft attested with the 1st Battalion, the 43rd Regiment of Foot on 13 December, 1870. He was one of two boys born to
George and Sarah (Shetley) Croft.
Croft remained at the regimental depot until shipping out to India with his battalion on 14 February, 1876. He remained there performing garrison duties with his battalion until 23
May, 1885. During this time the old 43rd became the Oxfordshire Light Infantry as a result of the Cardwell Reforms that went into effect in 1881. Croft also found the time and
opportunity to marry while in India with his wife being one Minnie Bourke with the nuptials taking place at Bangalore on 15 October, 1883.
Returning home on 24 May, 1885 Croft remained there until 9 March 1900 when he deployed to South Africa with the Volunteer Service Company of the Oxfordshire Light Infantry.
At the time Croft whose service number was 1272 had been promoted to Colour Sergeant. For his service during the Anglo-Boer War Croft was entitled to the Queen’s South Africa
Medal with the clasps: “Cape Colony”, “Orange Free State”, “Transvaal” and “South Africa – 1901”. Notably he also received a Mention in Despatches “…for further
consideration” from Lord Roberts on 10 September, 1901. His service papers also state that Croft was entitled to a Sergeant Major’s share war gratuity for “…acting in that
capacity while on board ship also enroute from East London to Bloemfontein…”
Unfortunately the statement of service sheet is missing from Croft’s service papers so the exact dates of his promotions up until his discharge on 15 January, 1902 are unknown. The
census of 1891 lists Croft as having been promoted Staff Sergeant by that time. He was awarded the Long Service & Good Conduct Medal in July, 1895.
Croft returned home from South Africa on 17 May, 1901 and remained with the colours for another 244 days until discharged on the above mentioned date. All told he served a total 21
years, 34 days in the Queen’s and King’s service.
The census of 1911 lists Croft and his wife (here her name is given as Mary) as living at 13 Osborne Street, Wolverton, Buckinghamshire. No children are listed and Croft’s
occupation is entered as army pensioner and railway clerk. During this time Croft seems to have served with a volunteer battalion of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light
Croft rejoined the colours with the outbreak of the Great War. He attested as a private with the Bucks Battalion of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry on 12 October,
1914 and was immediately promoted to his old rank of Colour Sergeant. Appointed Company Sergeant Major on 28 January, 1915 the old soldier was appointed Warrant Officer, 2nd
Class the very next day on 29 January, 1915. William Croft was discharged due to being over the age limit – 61 years, 6 months old – on 23 March, 1916. As a result of his age related
discharge, Croft was awarded the Silver War Badge (no. 102,311) for services rendered.
Pending his age related discharge a series of letters contained his is service papers reveal that the army was not quite ready to dispense with Croft’s services altogether. A letter for
the headquarters of the 2/1st Bucks Battalion dated 29 February, 1916 to the headquarters of the 184th Infantry Brigade recommended Croft’s appointment as Barrack Warden for
the Chlemsford District. A short time later Croft’s appointment was confirmed. Although no found documents confirm this one may assume that Croft held his appointment until the end
of the war.
For now all traces of Company Sergeant Major William Croft cease after the end of World War One.