Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sergeant Alexander Cruickshank - Maheno Memorial


Alexander Cruickshank (known as Sandy), was the eldest son of John and Isabella Cruickshank born in Maheno in 1893.  In 1914 the family relocated to the Marlborough region.  Sandy Cruickshank was a farm labourer at Waihaorunga, Waimate in Canterbury before enlisting in February 1915 and embarking on 13 June 1915 with the Canterbury Infantry Battalion (CIB).  After surviving the Gallipoli campaign unharmed, he was twice wounded in France.  Firstly on 16 August 1916 with a gun shot wound (GSW) to the knee.  Soon back in action in Belgium at the front he distinguished himself between 1 - 4 October 1917 and was awarded the Military Medal (Citation below).    

Operations Gravenstafel - 1st October to 5th October 1917. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. The non-commissioned officer did excellent work during the fighting of October 1st - 4th. His Platoon was ordered to construct and hold a line of small posts on the night of the 2nd and 3rd of October. He gallantly led his men to their position and under heavy shellfire supervised their work, and formed a strong line in an excellent position. His work was of high importance and of great value to the defence of the position assigned to his Company. L.G. 17 December 1917, p13201, Rec No 1331.

On 12 October 1917 at Passchendaele he was wounded for the second time together with  his brother David Cruickshank (CIB).  Both were admitted to hospital in Boulogne and convalesce at Hornchurch in England. 

By May 1918 both brothers were back in France with the CIB until on 26 May 1918 when Sandy was wounded for a third time.  Sadly it was not a case of 'third time lucky' he had received several fatal GSW's and died at the No.1 NZ Field Ambulance on 26 May 1918.  Sandy had served through almost the whole war and certainly saw his fair share of action but with only months of the war left his luck ran out.   He is buried at Louvencourt Military Cemetery, Somme, France he was 24 years old.  I hope his brother David was there to see him laid him to rest and say goodbye.  

As the last few months of the war raged on David Cruickshank was reported missing in September 1918 (a worrying time for his family back in New Zealand) they finally learnt his fate after the war was over later in November 1918 when it was confirmed by the Red Cross that he had been taken prisoner of war on 30 September 1918.  He was released from capitivity on 11 December 1918.  His family must have been overwhelmed with relief. 

Sandy Cruickshank's Military Medal was presented to his mother at a ceremony in December 1919.

Article image 

Oamaru Mail, Volume XLIX, Issue 13767, 26 May 1919
Papers Past

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