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23/1023   Lance Corporal William John Crooks
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Dated added: 30/12/2015   Last updated: 07/07/2017
Personal Details
Regiment/Service: 1st Batt Trentham Regiment, 3rd New Zealand Infantry Brigade (New Zealand Army)
Date Of Birth: 05/11/1893
Died: 08/06/1917 (Killed in Action)
Age: 23
Summary      
William John Crooks was the eldest child of John and Mary Crooks. He was born in the Moneymore / Lissan area. He was one of at least eleven children. His father was a farm labourer. William immigrated to New Zealand and lived there with his aunt and uncle. He worked as a farm labourer. He enlisted in May 1915 and was promoted to Lance-Corporal in September. In April 1916 he arrived in France. Lance Corporal Crooks was serving with the 1st Battalion (Trentham Regiment) with the 3rd New Zealand Infantry Brigade when he was killed in action in Belgium on 8th June 1917.
Further Information
MOST OF THE INFORMATION REGARDING WILLIAMíS FAMILY AND EARLY LIFE IS CONTRADICTORY AND REQUIRES FURTHER SCRUTINY
William John Crooks was the eldest child of John and Mary Crooks. John Crooks married Mary Nelson on 11th July 1892 in the district of Cookstown.
William John Crooks was born on 23rd October 1893 in the Moneymore / Lissan area. He was one of at least eleven children. Three had died by the time of the 1911 census.
The 1901 census lists William as age 7, living with the family at house 3 in Lismoney, Moneyhaw, County Londonderry. His father was a farm labourer.
Family: John Crooks, Mary Crooks, William Crooks (born 23rd October 1893), Thomas Crooks (born 13th April 1895), Henry Crooks (born 19th September 1896), Jane Crooks (born 28th June 1898), John Crooks (born 20th November 1899, died 2nd July 1900), Sarah Crooks (born 20th July 1901, 27th February 1906, age 5), Francis Crooks (born 2nd April 1903), Robert Crooks (born 4th August 1905), Samuel Crooks (born 5th June 1907), Margaret Crooks (born 20th January 1911, died 17th May 1911), Martha Crooks (born 14th August 1913).
The 1911 census does not list William as living with the family at house 2 in Lismoney, Moneyhaw. His father was a scutcher.
William immigrated to New Zealand and lived there with his aunt and uncle.
William worked as a farm labourer.
William had served previously with D Company, 5th Regiment, New Zealand Expeditionary Force.
William Crooks enlisted at Trentham Camp on 29th May 1915 in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. He gave his next of kin as his aunt, Miss J G Mitchell, who was living at Northbrook Road, Rangiora, New Zealand.
He was promoted to Lance-Corporal on 8th September 1915.
On 21st December 1915, after training, Lance Corporal Crooks left with his unit for North Africa.
On 6th April 1916 they left for France.
On September 15th 1916 he was wounded in action, but remained on duty with his battalion.
For some months prior to Messines, William acted as a sniper and observer for his battalion.
On the 7th June 1917, the first day of the Battle of Messines, William Crooks was acting as an observer attached to his battalion headquarters. The day went well for the battalion, but the following day the enemy bombardment was fierce and persistent in the New Zealand sector of the line. At about 11.30 hours a shell burst in the trench that Williamís company were holding, he and three others were killed instantly.
Lance Corporal Crooks was serving with the 1st Battalion (Trentham Regiment) with the 3rd New Zealand Infantry Brigade when he was killed in action in Belgium on 8th June 1917.
Lance Corporal William Crooks was buried according to reports at the time but his grave is now lost and he is commemorated on Messines Ridge (NZ) Memorial in Belgium.
His memorial plaque went to his brother, James Crooks, who was living at 2 Waltons Row, Blackhill, County Durham, England.
Lance Corporal William Crooks is also commemorated on Cookstown Cenotaph and at Claggan Presbyterian Church.
Letter dated 25th October 2002 from Winifred Lees, who was living at 24 Ballybriest Road, Cookstown.
Dear Sir, My name is Winifred Lees, a former member of the Royal Observer Corps, 31 Group, Belfast, Northern Ireland. I am interested in obtaining information on my relative Lance Corporal W J Crooks N.Z.E.F., who served in the 1914/18 War, and lost his life in France. I have three medals belonging to John. I have three medals belonging to John, one is the V.C. and the other I cannot identify. His number was 23/1023. His parents were James and Louise (Shelton) Crooks, Barrow-in-Furness, England. John belonged to the 1st Battalion New Zealand Rifle Brigade. I contacted another relative in New Zealand, Air Marshall David Crooks to gather information for me, so he may be contacting you as well. Thanking you in anticipation of an early reply, respectfully, Winifred Lees. P.S. The Ministry of Defence, Droitwich, England, furbished me with your address.
The CWGC record Lance Corporal William John Crooks as the brother of James Crooks of 2 Waltons Row, Blairhill, County. Durham, England.
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Relevant Cookstown Area Locations
No Location Region Location Notes Longtitude Latitude
1 Ballybriest, Lough Fea Lissan Family lived in Ballybriest 54.723348 -6.809181
References and Links
No Link Reference Map Doc
1 1901 Census lists Crooks family 1901 census lists William as age 7, living with the family at house 3 in Lismoney, Moneyhaw, Londonderry
2 1911 Census lists Crooks family 1911 census does not list William as living with the family at house 2 in Lismoney, Moneyhaw, Londonderry
3 Archives New Zealand Military documents (25 no.) of Lance Corporal William John Crooks
4 Dolores Cross Project No picture of Lance Corporal William John Crooks' memorial
5 New Zealand Cenotaph Details of Private Thomas Heslop incluuding grave photo
6 NZ War Graves Project Details of Lance Corporal William John Crooks including memorial photo
7 Private David Crooks Mitchell Also lived at Northbrook Road, Rangiora, New Zealand
Cookstown District's War Dead Acknowledgements 2010-2021